Anathem

   17 December 2008, terribly early in the morning

I finished reading Anathem yesterday. I think i’m done with that cruel mistress that is Neal Stephensen. Cryptonomicon was so great. I can’t recommend the book enough, it’s so interesting and entertaining. The Baroque Cycle pissed me off to no end, but I feel strangely nostalgic for it now. I think it is one of those series that grows on you after you’ve finished reading it — mostly because you forget a lot of the tedium. Anathem just wasn’t that good.

To start with, all the made-up words get distracting and seem a bit silly. (If you are going to make up words for cars and cell phones, but not for shoes, what’s the point?) Eventually you figure out what everything means, and you can get back to enjoying the book. Or trying to anyway. The world the story takes place in is interesting. You could write a really good book set in this world: Anathem wasn’t that book. There are lots of interesting ideas in the book, but as is often the case with the Baroque Cycle, their presentation borders on tedious. And, I can’t believe i’m typing this, but the ending feels rushed. The book is 1000 pages long! All of this I could forgive if not for the most glaring issue with the book: it reads like teen fiction. Stephensen is writing for the audience he knows he already has in the bag. The book is all nerdy science geek guy gets the hot but also nerdy science girl chick, and is helped by his good at everything friend, his nerdy martial arts friend, his super nerd friend who obviously has Aspenger’s, his hot engineer sister, his nerdy… well you get the idea. If Twilight is Vampire fiction for Emo kids, then Anathem is a science fiction romp for the Slashdot crowd. (Actually, god damn, the book was panned by at least one dude at Slashdot. The comments are a bit of a mixed bag.) If you are looking for something to read this winter, pick up Cryptonomicon.

 

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