by Ayn Rand
3 of 5 stars
I didn't like this book NEARLY as much as I liked her first (The Fountainhead). I feel like I could compare the two to Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road vs American Beauty. American Beauty was incredible. Well written, concise, and subtly obvious; beautifully done and executed and a huge, HUGE hit. Then some years later Sam decides to recreate that glory and makes a second film mirroring the first. Except this time it's obnoxious and in your face, and annoying in that you're constantly thinking "Didn't you already make your point with this the first time? Why am I subjected to this again? Is that your only powerful thought?" And it's overall painful to get through.
Atlas Shrugged was wayyyy overdone. She hammers her point so loudly it's a struggle to continue on with the book. Of course I still think she's a brilliant writer, and there's something to be said for the story, and in that sense it's worth the read (she does make a interesting and strong arguments, not that I necessarily prescribe to them wholly), but I must warn: it's tiring. The first 250 pages are tough to push through and feel like you're getting somewhere, and then at points when the dialogue is just so.... "really??" it makes you push away from the heros instead of attract (like these parts: "You're so great" "I know" "No one in the world can match what we do." "I know" "We are the world's only chance." "I know." [literally they said I know:] "Why are you the only real man in the world?" "I don't know." "Why must we put up with so much idiocy?" "I don't know."), and then by the time you feel like you're almost at the end, you're hit with a 52 page speech by one of the main characters. And believe me, after getting through 950 pages and knowing I only had 100 left, that STILL made me almost want to put the book down, or just skip it all together. Aside from that, my other qualm with this one are her obnoxious characters. At least in The Fountainhead there was one lone hero and he pushed through all the injustice and held strong against his adversaries to the end. He stayed strong and he didn't *really* push his agenda on the world, only to those who asked. He just knew what he believed and he acted on it, letting the world observe. He was fairly humble. In this one though, the characters are so annoyingly heroistic (I know that's not a real word), they make you dislike them (as I briefly exampled above). They think/know/act so much holier than the whole word outside of their little circle. She pits mind and heart against each other and advocates they can't coexist, leaving you feeling like a jerk. And for me, although a capitalist, I don't believe we should leave the poor to rot and not 'give' (that's a whole other topic and can of worms I won't unleash here, but one to contend with while reading this book; it's a good challenge, and I agree with her principles in terms of our country's work ethic, but like I said, I don't believe in exclusivity with her ideology). So wrapping this up, I feel like she topped everything off by developing everyone so well except for one, which ended up being a big deal for me, because by the end I was suddenly supposed to care for this person, but I didn't. Why? Because she forced me to care for others for a gazillion pages until the end.
Overall, I just don't get why she chose to take away the brilliance of her first with the watered-down (or rather, amped-up) version of her second. Try it out though. My friend keeps telling me she's heard that you always like whichever book you read first, but I have yet to meet anyone yet who prefers this one over her first.
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