Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: We

In We the world is a far different place.  Everyone is controlled by the One State, in place of names, everyone has an identifying number and daily life is one of unwavering precise routine.  People's passions and instincts have been mastered through the use of drugs and scheduling, and even that great untamed beast, nature, has been driven back and partitioned beyond the walls of the city.  Though it seems like mankind has mastered it all, they haven't been to space yet. 

That's about to change, thanks to D-503, the chief architect of the Integral, the vessel that will make mankind the masters of the universe.  To document his thoughts and moments of interest in the days leading up to the launch, D-503 decides to keep a journal which he hopes will one day benefit the less advanced societies that the crew of the Integral are sure to encounter.  However, D-503's life takes an unexpected twist when he meets the lovely I-330, and starts to discover that he is more than just a number.

It is with deep regret that I have to say that I did not like We.  I've had my eye on this book for about a year, and when I finally pulled the trigger on purchasing it, I knew it wouldn't be long before I gave it a read.  I've had this book recommended to me by those near and dear to me, and I've read promising accounts of others, who's opinion I trust, liking this book as well.  Unfortunately, it was all for naught.  I simply did not enjoy this book.  I want to say up front though that I believe it to be a matter of personal taste, and not due to any flaws of the book which is decent enough.

So what did I not like about the book?  Well, the biggest thing I can put my finger on is that I was completely unable to get lost in the narrative.  Instead of reading and seeing the events of the story unfold as seen through my mind's eye, I just read the words, and cataloged the story in my brain...the type of reading comprehension that I usually experience when reading a text book.  This was a pretty big hang up since I prefer my reading to be an escape from textual reading.  If this were to happen with any other book I would have just set it aside and moved on to something else, but I felt pressure to carry on and see if I could grasp what made the book so special to others.  Yes, the story itself was pretty good, but I never once got lost it.

Aside from that major hang up, I think We might have been a very bad case of wrong book at the wrong time.  The setting of We is one drab, dull place, much like Seattle in the winter.  So, the book, and the physical location were a bit too similar to be compatible with my tastes.

So, positives?  Well, even though the story didn't speak to me, I think there are some interesting themes that will be well liked by others.  If you are a fan of dystopian novels such as 1984, and Brave New World  then this novel is in that same vein, and worth checking out.  For those of you wondering, I've read 1984 before, but I have plans to read it again soon, and review it here.

I sort of feel like We really got a bum steer, so I think I'll file this one away on the shelf and try to give it another go sometime down the road.  Hopefully my gripes with the book are unique to me, and others will find some enjoyment if they chose to read it.  If you do, let me know what you think.

Grade: D

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