Allison Wonderland's Reviews > The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
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Jun 03, 2018

really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, science-fiction, tough-chicks, war

Reading The Diamond Age reminded me in many ways of reading Neuromancer, by William Gibson, though thankfully this one was easier to parse. Both books rely on immersing their reader in a new world - one so complete and detailed that the characters often see no reason to explain what, to them, is completely natural and normal. This can be a confusing ride, but I respect the ability of writers who can do this so much that I shove aside my initial discomfort with having literally no idea what is going on and keep moving forward until the story emerges.

As with Neuromancer, the story itself is, ultimately, a straightforward one. In the case of The Diamond Age, it's both a coming-of-age story and an ending-of-an-age story. The story of the Primer and it's relationship with Nell was definitely my favorite arc, especially as the Primer itself is so delightful. Nell is a great personality, and even when she isn't doing much talking, you always get a sense of who she is. Even side characters like Miranda and Carl Hollywood are carefully developed, which is something I think Neuromancer lacked. Each character Stephenson creates feels like a real person, with their own motivations and autonomy.

Apart from Nell's story, there is a "background" story of a cultural revolution. While it has its moments, the issue with the revolution is that it never really resolves. The build up is fascinating, with John Hackworth's adventures and the introductions of Judge Fang and Dr. X. I was intrigued to see where all of this was leading and how the revolution would end, but it just kind of... doesn't. The entire book ends with one those dramatic moments that ultimately answers none of the reader's questions, which I find a little frustrating. It feels kind of like the deadline was overdue and the book just needed to be finished somehow.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was often challenging, but usually the challenge paid off. The last 5% of the book feels rushed, but everything else fits so cleanly together that it's still a 4/5 star read.
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Reading Progress

July 3, 2010 – Shelved
May 4, 2018 – Started Reading
May 4, 2018 –
11.0%
May 12, 2018 –
25.0%
May 20, 2018 –
50.0%
May 23, 2018 –
65.0%
May 30, 2018 –
80.0%
June 3, 2018 – Shelved as: coming-of-age
June 3, 2018 – Shelved as: science-fiction
June 3, 2018 – Shelved as: tough-chicks
June 3, 2018 – Shelved as: war
June 3, 2018 – Finished Reading

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