Philip's Reviews > The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2017-releases, fantasy, not-for-me, sci-fi, male-author

2ish stars.

D.O.D.O. is a tiny, shady government entity that introduces us to the awesome combination of time travel and witchcraft. The organization starts out small with a lot of promise but then becomes mired in bureaucracy, more or less undermining its original intent. In parallel, Stephenson’s and Galland’s novel starts out strong with an original premise but soon hits a brick wall and doesn’t go anywhere. For 500 pages.

As a satire of The System, the book is clever and often funny but it takes things entirely too far. It’s frustrating to have certain expectations foiled by rolls of red tape and this book does a good job playing on those frustrations. There are more acronyms than can be counted and even longer lists of potentially offensive terms to be avoided in a diverse workplace. But they’re thrown at us over and over again for hundreds and hundreds of pages like that one friend who sings the freakin’ Lamb Chop song because he knows it gets on your nerves so you roll your eyes and let him get it out of his system ha ha he’s such a dork but HE JUST GOES ON AND ON MY FRIENDS.

Within the middle, oh, 70% of the book there’s about one collective page in ten worth of relevant information. There’s another one page in ten worth of humorous content. Unless my math is off (likely) this book could have been cut by more than half (56% based on those numbers? Can anyone confirm?). It’s funny in concept, but I can’t help feeling I wasted so much of my life on a gag. It goes absolutely nowhere until the last 10 pages or so, when the promise is rekindled and the important questions finally get asked... and then the book ends all of a sudden.

I didn’t love most of the characters, they were really all caricatures used for comic effect except for Melisande’s straight man. And I didn’t ever feel the chemistry between her and Tristan despite us being assured that it’s there based on the tried-and-true principle of “if you say it enough it’s true.”

I guess the joke’s on me this time around.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
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Reading Progress

May 10, 2017 – Shelved
August 19, 2017 – Started Reading
August 19, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)

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message 1: by Maryam (new)

Maryam I had this on my TBR list, but after reading your review and rating, I'm nit sure I will get to it anytime soon.


Philip My friends are pretty split on this one. To be fair, here's a friend who really liked it: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....
But yeah not my cup of tea.


Denis Pedersen I just finished it and have the same feeling as you. It was winded and really far, far too repetitive. A fine review and 2 stars are what it deserves I think.


Philip Denis wrote: "I just finished it and have the same feeling as you. It was winded and really far, far too repetitive. A fine review and 2 stars are what it deserves I think."

Thanks Denis. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who felt that way.


Arye Lipman completely agree... really disappointed with this one.


Philip Arye wrote: "completely agree... really disappointed with this one."

I think Stephenson is one of those authors who is very hit-or-miss. Unfortunately this one was a miss despite my high hopes.


Chris Walker I just finished this and thought the same thing... I probably would have given it three stars if it'd been self contained and the end didn't try to set it up as a series... But after slogging through the first book and not really being impressed by any of the characters or their personalities, I wouldn't bother reading another book about them, even if it explains what happens next. It's a shame, because the ideas in the book are fun and have such potential, but I found the style of writing to be incredibly obtuse... Which I guess is the point if you're making fun of beaurocratic red tape... But there had to be a better way. I felt like Illuminae did this style of book better... And that is YA and aimed at a younger audience. This should have either played it totally straight... Like it's some kind of historical records for real, or been really funny... And yet it really was neither.


Phillip Carman Well said, Philip. Stephenson should avoid collaborations. They always seem inferior to his stand-alones.


Martin Brochhaus Unfortunately, I completely agree with this review. Lesson learned: Never touch a Stephenson-collaboration project again (actually, almost all collaboration projects I ever read had a really bad taste, i.e. from Terry Pratchett).


message 10: by Philip (last edited Sep 25, 2017 07:52PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Philip Martin wrote: "Unfortunately, I completely agree with this review. Lesson learned: Never touch a Stephenson-collaboration project again (actually, almost all collaboration projects I ever read had a really bad ta..."

Phillip wrote: "Well said, Philip. Stephenson should avoid collaborations. They always seem inferior to his stand-alones."

I agree. This is the first of his collaborations that I've read but it's not nears as good as any of his solo books I've read.


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Excellent & concise review Philip! I have only ever picked up one Stephenson book & it was Snow Crash, which I DNF'd so quick it made my head spin. Loads of tech speak, some hints of humor, not enough substance/forward plot motion. Granted I gave it only 5% before I gave up but damn it was so slow! Anyway, so sorry this one didn't work out for you!


message 12: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I read Seveneves, which was fine if a bit slow at times, but a lot of people with similar tastes to mine didn't like Snow Crash.


Philip Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ wrote: "Excellent & concise review Philip! I have only ever picked up one Stephenson book & it was Snow Crash, which I DNF'd so quick it made my head spin. Loads of tech speak, some hints of humor, not eno..."

Thanks Mary! :) Snow Crash has got to be one of the most polarizing books. There are lots of books people say are "love it or hate it" but that really seems to be the case with Snow Crash. Never read it myself, maybe I'll give it a try one day haha.


Philip Audrey wrote: "I read Seveneves, which was fine if a bit slow at times, but a lot of people with similar tastes to mine didn't like Snow Crash."

I agree about Seveneves. It was cool, but never became as good as I wanted to it to be. Like I mentioned in my last comment, lots of people I typically agree with are in such opposite camps when it comes to Snow Crash I don't know what to think haha.


Amanda Espinoza Great review. I totally agree. I had high hopes for DODO, but it felt like a waste. Seveneves was slow in places, but it was interesting. The further I've gotten away from Seveneves the more I think about it in my day to day life. I doubt I'll think about DODO ever again except to compare it to other time travel stories.


Philip Amanda wrote: "Great review. I totally agree. I had high hopes for DODO, but it felt like a waste. Seveneves was slow in places, but it was interesting. The further I've gotten away from Seveneves the more I thin..."

I totally agree. I like Seveneves a lot more in hindsight.


message 17: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I gave up reading Stephenson after 1999's Cryptonomicon. Tried Anathem, The Baroque Cycle and Readme. Found them all bloated and not worth finishing. Sad. He has some cool ideas, but seems unable to edit.


Stéphanie Amesse I am (or used to be) a huge Stephenson fan. I could not finish Seveneves, and I'm not sure I'll be able to even get started with this one. I barely have 50 pages read, and it already feels like dragging my feat through setting concrete.


message 19: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Beek Snowcrash, Cryptonomicon, and Diamond Age rock. The rest do not.


message 20: by Lana (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lana Thank Big Blue Buddha in a Bathtub! I have a friend who insists I’ll like this guy, but so far, this book is a dud. I mean, it’s better than The Big U, for certain values of better, but... I’m just glad I’m not the only one struggling. I was beginning to think I was too stupid to get “it,” whatever it was.


Connie Jennings This didn't read like a Stephenson book to me at all. I was disappointed, frustrated and bored. I put it down and came back to it several times, finally gave up for good. I stopped caring about any of the characters or the answers to the problems. I can read through Stephenson's dry scence for pages, as in Seveneves, no problem, but this was too cute, too coy for me.


Melinda Bailey I'm on page 308 and was ready for it to be finished on page 200. Must...keep...reading...


Kenneth Peel Philip, sorry for the late post, but thank you for your review. I just finished D.O.D.O. and understand your views on the book, though I liked it more than you. Many were expecting a Stephenson book, and we're disappointed they got a Connie Willis book instead. This book reminds me so much of her marvelous To Say Nothing About the Dog (also involving time travel). Similar themes, similar light-hearted tone, similar humor tone. But Willis is better.

As for Snow Crash, I say read it. Or at the very least, read the first chapter, which contains the best humerous action sequence this side of the opening scene of the first Indiana Jones movie.


message 24: by Toby (new) - rated it 1 star

Toby I'm just over the lame acronym jokes and still another 40% to go. I'm crying out for a good time travel book now. Accidental time machine was good, any other recommendations?


Thiago The book would be much better if it had half of the pages or twice the story.
The implications of the diachronic operations were interesting, but it was so second plane that its hard to tell what the book was really about.


message 26: by Arye (new) - rated it 2 stars

Arye Lipman Toby wrote: "I'm just over the lame acronym jokes and still another 40% to go. I'm crying out for a good time travel book now. Accidental time machine was good, any other recommendations?"

My rec: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 27: by Carl (new) - rated it 2 stars

Carl I totally agree about the middle 70% of the book. It's hard to write a boring, tedious multiverse time travel story but this book managed.


message 28: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard Benitez I’m on page 486, and I can see exactly where the book is going. While I intend to finish book, your assessment is very good. The novel is very well written but the joke of this bureaucratic structure squeezing the life out of every one is over done. The authors should have lightened up on the military manual, email, senate hearing documents style to tell this story. Neal Stephenson overplays his hand in writing sci fi. His books I feel dissolve into an obnoxious science elitism. There was one book , the first in the baroque cycle, where the story was this very tight science. I felt Stephenson was just messing with people in his attempt to intellectualize just because he could. I felt I’d been jerked around enough and threw the book in the trash. With DODO, I intend to finish although I am enjoying the story less as I move towards the end. I have a sense on how it will all end. I want to see how close I am to being correct. (I work for the Feds so I already understand a confluence of assholes)


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