Friday, 3 June 2011

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin

D-503 is a member of our society 1000 years from now. After two hundred years of war it was decided that living mathematically is the best way to achieve happiness. As a result everyones lives are governed by mathematics and nothing is hidden. In fact the city itself is made from glass so that everyone movements can be watched. D-503 believes that he is happy and that his entire life is dedicated to the One State. He is an engineer and is building a ship and which will tell the stars how they should live their lives by mathematics. Then I-330 enters his life which makes him question their world and the State's right to control him.

I liked the idea behind this book. A society that is so compartmentalised because of mathematics. Every hour is accounted for and every movement of every individual is precise. They even want to cure imagination. This would be my nightmare. Even worse, there is no privacy. Everything is made of glass so that you can even see what your neighbours are doing and so that the guardians can see what you are doing. Any odd behaviour is rewarded by a visit to the doctor or a visit to the Benefactor and the gas bell jar. Yet no one seems to mind this way of living. Even the narrator enjoys it. It was these descriptions of the way they lived I enjoyed.

Of course D-503 soon discovers that maybe this way of living isn't the best. He discovers he has an imagination and although it terrifies him he wants to keep it. This is where I have a problem with the book. It's his reason behind wanting to keep his imagination. He becomes completely obsessed with one woman I-330 and it's down to that he doesn't want his imagination taken away from him. He is scared of being caught only because he knows his obsession will disappear along with it. It's I-330 who believes that the Benefactor and the Guardians should be overthrown. It's her that's a member of a movement who are working towards that end. D-503's reason for joining them has nothing to do with the belief that this movement is in the right. It's actually only in the last few pages that the reason behind this is made clear. I can't mention why without spoiling it for you. Trust me though there is a reason that the book is focused more on his obsession than on the uprising. It hits home the control the state has.

I found the book itself a little tough going at times. Maybe because I wanted it more focused on the State and those trying to overthrow it. It's still a good read though. Whilst it certainly isn't my favourite dystopian it's certainly near the top.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! I love this kind of dystopian book :)

  2. It was. I just wasn't expecting it to be hard going since it is quite short.

  3. Oh, this is right up my street. Will look for this.