We

We book coverWe by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

Summary

D-503 is a citizen of the One State, where efficiency, precision, and reason are prized above all else and people are numbers rather than individuals. D-503 is the chief architect on the Integral spaceship that will allow the One State to subjugate any alien life to its way of life.

By chance, D-503 meets a beautiful and enticing woman named I-330, who lures him into aiding her rebel agenda against the One State.

Review

We was original and audacious when it was written almost 100 years ago, shortly after the Russian Revolution. It heavily inspired books like 1984 and A Brave New World and it was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988.

While I appreciate the influence We has had on dystopian literature, I didn’t enjoy it. I found it weird and really hard to follow, though maybe that can be attributed to translation. I don’t know. Here’s an example of a paragraph from We:

All night strange wings were about. I walked and protected my head with my hands from those wings. And a chair, not like ours, but an ancient chair, came in with a horse-like gait; first the right foreleg and left hind leg, then the left foreleg and right hind leg. It rushed to my bed and crawled into it, and I liked that wooden chair, although it made me uncomfortable and caused me some pain.

I just can’t make sense of that.

You might like this book if you like…

  • Totalitarianism
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Political satire
  • The Russian Revolution
  • Banned books
  • Dystopian literature