A group of teenagers break out of a psychiatric facility amid a global suicide pandemic to bring a monster of a man to justice and rescue his prisoner. But this book is also so much more and an essential read.
The first big novel of 2022: an epic literary thriller set where America is right now, in which a band of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest to save one innocent life—and might end up saving us all.
Something is happening to teenagers across America, spreading through memes only they can parse.
At the Float Anxiety Abatement Center, in a suburb of Chicago, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. He breaks out to join a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower.
Noah Hawley’s new novel is an adventure that finds unquenchable lights in dark corners. Unforgettably vivid characters and a plot as fast and bright as pop cinema blend in a Vonnegutian story that is as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale. It is a leap into the idiosyncratic pulse of the American heart, written with the bravado, literary power, and feverish foresight that have made Hawley one of our most essential writers.
“The future we dreaded was already here.”
Noah Hawley’s latest book, Anthem, transcends genres to take readers on a wild ride that will keep their heads spinning and stick with them long past the last page. Part speculative fiction, part thriller, part satire, and part literary fiction, Anthem is a quietly terrifying book that will force you to come to terms with our current reality and potentially horrifying future.
Anthem is a compelling, bold story that is eerily similar to our recent past, yet about a group of teenagers on a quest to save one of their own. Through this, Hawley provides honest, integral social commentary that is simply 🔥. I really enjoyed both the story and the commentary. There are short chapters interspersed among the story that build context. I found this to make the tale much more powerful, but I can see not everyone loving this style.
Being written by Noah Hawley means that pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the story. While I am generally out of touch with pop culture, I did some Googling, but those who enjoy film and television are sure to enjoy Hawley’s unique view of the world.
My only real critique of this book is that the teenage dialogue, particularly towards the beginning, is pretty unrealistic, especially for today’s teens. However, once I accepted this, I saw the vitality of having such dialogue.
While Anthem will likely be one of my favorite books of the year, I realize that not everyone will enjoy it. The writing definitely falls into the literary fiction genre. People of certain political persuasions may not love the commentary. Regardless, I feel like this should be required reading for adults. Forget teaching The Great Gatsby and replace it with Anthem.
Overall, Anthem is a reality check in book form. Some may call it bleak, but I see it as hopeful. I cannot recommend it enough. I think everyone needs to dive into this book and ponder its lessons.
January 4, 2022
Note: I received a gifted copy of this book from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.