First, let me just say this: I do not care for Objectivism. Despite that, when I review Ayn Rand's Anthem
, I rate it as a story and how one character essentially ruined the story for me. Politics can go take a hike.
itself. The story starts in an archtypical dystopia, dedicated to the extreme of collectivism. Progress is stunted because nobody is allowed to stand from the crowd, and scientists are picked not on merit, but randomly. The greatest achievement society has made is the candle. Nobody is rich, but everybody is poor. Names have been phased out of the English language. There is no hope of social betterment; your lot in life is set for you. Wow, what an interesting premise! And then we meet the main man.
The main character is Equality 7-2521, who I'll just call Equality. He is a tall, athletic, intelligent man who was tragically overlooked by a society that hates those who could excel. We see Equality learn about electricity and science in an underground subway station, until finally, after 2 years, he... Creates what is essentially a functional lightbulb. And all believability is chucked out the window. Equality's achievement is akin to a caveman inventing the printing press because he understands writing. Oh, but he's an incredibly intelligent
caveman, that makes sense!
And that's not all. Equality meets another person, Liberty <Insertnumberhere>
; And it's love at first sight! Literally, he loves her upon seeing her from some distance away. Oh, and Liberty loves him too! And then when Equality runs away from society, Liberty is there to comfort him! Liberty is literally nothing but
a love interest for Equality, which makes his plight even less relatable. The entire universe seems to bend over for Equality, outside of the Collectivist society itself, of course. When Equality is in the forest alone, he is able to build a ring
of fires around him to protect him while he sleeps, all in the space of a few hours and with no materials or wilderness knowledge; considering how difficult it is to build a single fire without a lighter, he seems "gifted."
And even though Equality is just one character, he is the main
POV character. He is the audience's portal into how awful Rand's vision of dystopia is. When the main character is hollow, the work rings hollow.