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Karen Maitland
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Daniel James Brown
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David Mitchell

We

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin, Евгений Замятин, Clarence Brown A classic dystopian novel, We is the one from which all others were descended. Without We there would be no 1984, no Brave New World. Based on the author's own experiences during the Russian Revolution and the founding of the Soviet Union, it was easier to find this book in an English translation than in his native language. Written in the form of a journal, We details the experiences of mathematician D-503, as he discovers that in a society in which emotions and nature are to be feared, while logic and sameness are glorified, that not only does he have a soul, an imagination, that he is capable of the most upsetting emotion of all: love. He is disturbed by this knowledge and his inability to reject it, yet he allows it to control him and draw him into a plot to overthrow all that he holds dear.

I read a recent translation by Natasha Randall and I found it immensly readable. Much of the book is written in a surreal and hallucinatory fashion, which I found intriguing, drawing me into the mind of the character. The author is clearly a master of anticipation, teasing the story out, and then rushing towards the climax, in much the same way Cipher D-503 was rushing headlong towards his own future. In other reviews I've read, I've seen a lot of criticism of the style in which the novel is written, saying that it was difficult to read, but for me that was the best part of the book, it is actually helped me through some of the more difficult passages detailing mathematical formulae and thought. It makes sense that the novel is so confused and emotional, because that is exactly the experiences of the protaganist. While 1984 is a very popular novel, I thought that We is a far better example of the classic dystopian novel. The futuristic society was clearly described, the characters relatable, and the more technical aspects highly readable. I get why it inspired so many future authors, like George Orwell, and will recommend it to anyone who is interested in the evolution of the novel, particularly dystopian novels.