The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson: To be perfectly frank, I don’t get it. The story begins with a man named Hackworth creating an interactive primer for his young daughter, but before he can give it to her he is mugged by a gang of boys. One of these boys grabs the book and brings it home for his little sister, Nell. The book itself is awesome: interactive, multifunctional, and just all around nifty. I wish I had one. Unfortunately, after this things start getting confusing. Hackworth lives with a group called the Drummers, who share a collective consciousness and have a lot of orgies. Then there’s this group called the Fists of Righteous Harmony who start making trouble, and then there are a quarter of a million little Chinese girls getting together, and then there’s this mysterious group called Cryptnet… Part of me feels what I’ve felt when reading other Stephenson books: that while he’s excellent at world-building, he’s not so hot at endings. There’s also a possibility that I’m simply not smart enough to appreciate his work. I’m fine with that. I was kind of surprised at how meh I felt about the latter half of this book, since I enjoyed Snow Crash and Zodiac so much, but perhaps this marks a turning point in his writing. The next book he wrote was Cryptonomicon, on which I gave up after 250 pages. I guess I should stick with Stephenson’s older works from now on.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

  1. I loved Diamond Age, AND I thought it had a lousy ending. I finished Cryptonomicon, and loved it too. it had a better, but still not great ending. Endings are clearly not Stephenson’s strong point. What I loved about Diamond Age was the focus on girls literature, and Nell’s evolution into a tough as nails heroine because of it, and how she and her dad and the narrator of the book all came together (however confusingly) in the end.

    Kidlit aside: the page in Al Perkin’s kids’ book Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb has a spread that says and shows “Millions of monkeys drumming on drums”. That always reminds me of Diamond Age. Heh.

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