Anthem is fatalistically entertaining; depressing as hell but a solid read. Anthem also firmly establishes Noah Hawley as an author and not merely screenwriter/author; although Before The Fall was rather terrific, too. Hawley uses Anthem – hopefully – as a cathartic piece in order to make sense out of those four years of outright nonsense. Anthem deals with mass suicide, families trying to hold fast, over-medicated kids, the second civil war, and the prayer that humanity has for achieving peace in the near future. Heavy stuff indeed.
And did I mention? Anthem is good.
Title: Anthem (2022) Author: Noah Hawley Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Book Jacket: 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. Joe says: Anthem is fatalistically entertaining, depressing as hell, and one incredibly good read.
Anthem occurs in the extremely-near future, one as close as tomorrow. Young adults, teens, start dying in scores. This, of course, brings the nation to a state of emergency as scientists scramble for a cause and cure. A lot of people though? They are not believing it for a second. Thinking this is a hoax; a conspiracy. But the numbers are there, man.
Anthem, you see, is also about math. Or at least, a host of numbers. Hawley divides his narrative with these wonderful, although sometimes grim, asides that calculates population growth, subtracts loss of sea ice, adds vaccinations, and multiples net worth. Math, after all (and, you know, spoiler alert!), does not lie. One plus one always equals two. A .01% of 100 billion is the same calculation as .01% of 68k. This is not false news – a fact Hawley is screaming out.
And thank you for that, Noah.
Anthem is Noah Hawley’s The Stand where the mass suicide of the young is the new Captain Trips. Hawley’s Mother Abigail is the young Prophet who plans to rebuild society in a new utopia and fights back against a witch, the Wizard, trolls, Orcs, and the God King himself. Unlike The Stand, some of these evil sunuvabitches have real life, really-vile comparisons, making the situations even scarier. The book gets totally meta when one of the Prophet’s dark riders takes on the name of the Walking Dude himself, Randall Flagg.
In a world where hope, prayer, and belief seem inconsequential, Hawley reminds us that those tenets are real, believable, and necessary.
Anthem is dark, disturbing, and one incredible book.