Friday, February 22, 2013

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Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

        As a lot of you who have read the book can assume, just the act of being in high school and reading it has prevented me from posting in this blog. So I'll be damned if I don't review it. To summarize, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is the story of Dagny Taggart and her witnessing of the world's decay. A better way of putting it is this; it will make you question a lot of what you think is moral and immoral. In essence, it's one of the best dystopian novels ever, and of course, for the gamers, it's the book Bioshock was partly based on. 

This is, more or less, what the story's about.
       First of all, let's start with the form. This novel has an omniscient narrator, which lets you expand a bit into each character's psychology. Every single one gets his share of the spotlight, some more than others of course, but it's crucial for the story to develop well. It follows a chronological timeline, and it was written in U.S.A. in 1957. 

      The impressive thing about the novel is that not a single word is wasted, and almost everything is a symbol. The most important aspect is the battle between two philosophies, that of John Galt and that of the looters. John Galt's philosophy in a basic sense says that the value of a man is the value of his work, and that nobody should get what he doesn't deserve. Need doesn't entitle anybody to anything. It may sound selfish, but in a sense, it's representative of true capitalism and does, in fact, make sense. The looters, on the other hand, want to exploit the virtuous under the barrel of a gun.

      The characters themselves are quite curious. Dagny Taggart, the main character, is a form of embodiment of Galt's philosophy. She's a hard worker, always figuring out how to solve problems, always striving to improve, and being indifferent as to what others think. Her brother is the opposite. He wants to make a good impression and is a master of manipulation, whereas Dagny always lives based on logic. 

This is a really good visualization. 
         A character which appears enough to be mentioned is called Eddie Willers, who represents the average Joe in a world full of more-than-human heroes and extremely petty thieves. His problem is usually realizing things when it's too late, and is one of the characters most people can relate to.

           There's also a few other issues about sacrificing your virtues to the people, dissecting what money is and if it really is the root of evil, if feeling pleasure should actually make you guilty, among a whole lot of other topics, and damn it, if you get into it you'll have your mind blown. 

Like so.
           I could go on about the characters, philosophies, and what they represent, but it would take me a whole day to go through it. I'll leave the rest of it for you to figure out, but keep in mind that this book is extremely deep and may be at times hard to read because you'll question a lot of things. If you're the impatient type, it's still worth the wait. The book has three volumes, or acts, if you will, and most of the questions are answered until the third volume. It's such a profoundly epic book that I might actually pick it up again someday, even though it's a monster of a book. 

Just remember this, take it as a mantra: 

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never life for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. 

Read the book and you shall understand.