Louise's Reviews > The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
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Dec 06, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: steampunk, steampunk-month, adventure, epic, cyber-punk, favorites
Read from October 21 to November 09, 2010

Is it possible to feel nostalgia for a place in the future? The crowded, multi-factioned, multi-leveled city of Shanghai and nearby Pudong made me miss my hometown terribly. Stephenson's descriptions of brightly lit Nanjing Road and small, dim, alleys of hawkers was so spot on. The mix of high technology, the sophisticated neo-Victorians, and the Confuscians made a confusing but ultimately satisfying story.

I came to The Diamond Age with a vague idea of what the book was about. Like previous steampunk books I read, there was a combination of neo-Victorian sensibilities, technologies different than what we're used to, and a huge disparity between classes. While that may be what gets the book labeled as 'steampunk' by some people ,it surpasses that label and has so much more.

It has cyber-punk technologies. It has dystopian characteristics. It's part adventure story, part riddle, part allegory, part detective story, and best of all, it feels epic without losing its main characters in too wide of a scope.

Reading Stephenson is always hard for me but I always enjoy it. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that his books are not easy to skim through. Go too quickly in The Diamond Age and you end up in an underwater rave wondering what the heck just happened.

The book was definitely worth reading for any fan of the author. It certainly is my favorite book of his so far. My only complaint was that Nell was too perfect. While it could be said that it the Primer had something to do with that, if I take a step back and look at the character, her lack of faults is unbelievable.

Other than that one little complaint, I loved every part of the book from the heart-wrenching stories in the Primer to the action-packed lead up to the Mouse Army. I also liked all the mentions of tea.

Protip: Fountain pens were mentioned at least nine times in this book!
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Reading Progress

10/23/2010
3.0% "Oh Stephenson, I missed your dirty, little worlds."
10/25/2010
10.0% "The technical explanations make things so believable!"
10/25/2010
10.0% "The technical explanations make things so believable!"
10/26/2010
17.0% "This makes me nostalgia for my hometown. Ah Shanghai, I miss you."
10/28/2010
30.0% "The dinosaur story makes me sad."
11/05/2010
59.0% "Dreading the end of Nell's story."
11/08/2010
75.0% "This just gets weirder and weirder. Princess Nell's world is like a video game."
11/09/2010
90.0% "Oooh it's all coming together now. Brain melting."
04/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Terry I'm such a fan of this book! :)


Otis Chandler I might need to reread this - can't remember the tea!


Natalie Louise - I'm dating myself but when I first read this there were no ebooks except on CDROM and Go was going bust! . . now the kindle & the ipad make the Young Lady's Illustrated primer seem pre-figured and dare I say possible . . . did you want to write a book app or write a book specifically for the electronic market after reading this or imagine someone who would?


Louise Natalie, I definitely had some ideas of bringing The Primer to life now that we have iPads in the market. The hard part is to get the Primer to learn from its environment, I would imagine.


Natalie When I saw that you'd read the book recently I supposed it had likey fired your programmer's as well as your reader's imagination ! When I first saw Alice on the ipad I thought of the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer . . . and whether an electronic/illustrated version of Diamond Age would be worthwhile, or a whole other kind of book that took advantage of the new medium . . .

Louise wrote: "I definitely had some ideas of bringing The Primer to life now that we have iPads in the market."


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