Scribal's Reviews > Anathem

Anathem by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Apr 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: good-syfy, favorites

I liked the beginning. I've had a medieval fetish since I was 12 so discussions of massive architecture and arcane gardening practices had me right at home. Although it is tedious, there are actually very few things in the book that are irrelevant to the plot--maybe some of the architecture and gardening.
The dialogs, the theoretical discussions, the pedantry--they can be tedious and too much "talking heads"--but in the context of an academic community that lives in "chalk halls" it works and a reader can skim when they've had enough. But don't skim too much or you'll miss the point. And there is one.

The alternate vocabulary, the schools of thought, the singing, the odd subjects of the Dialogs--they are all important. I was distracted at first by trying to identify all the near-analogs to our real history--like: "was that Abelard and Heloise" they were talking about? Then I decided to not worry about it. I did however enjoy the descriptions of the Procians since I've been reading way too much postmodernism lately.

As many reviewers have said, it has a working ending that is satisfactory to to plot. Go Neal!

Where I think it fails, of course, is the description of anything having to do with females. Oh well, he tried.

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Scribal Just an update on my review--my liking for most books spikes when I finish them and then fades rapidly. I like this book better now than when I finished it.

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