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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2010-10 ANATHEM - first impressions and roll call *no spoilers please*

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Please let us know if you're reading, or planning to read, Anathem by Neal Stephenson, and any first impressions. No spoilers in this topic please!

message 2: by Hirondelle (new)

Hirondelle I finished it last night, just on time!

I liked it a lot, very very much, 4 stars like. But I have some bugs with almost all pieces of it.

I loved the setting, btw.

message 3: by Felina (new)

Felina I'm planning on reading this one. My only first impression when I got it in the mail was that it was HUGE.

message 4: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Currently reading it. The concepts are as huge as the book, so far.

message 5: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 873 comments I first read Anathem early last year. It was my introduction to Neal Stephenson and I really liked it.
Its one of the three books I've rated 5 stars (though I'd drop it to 4.5 it that were possible).

I just finished rereading it a few days ago. Looking forward to the discussion.

message 6: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2357 comments Mod
I'll read it eventually - we do have a copy - but its size is intimidating me at the moment...

message 7: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3321 comments Mod
It's on my list to read, but probably not until the far future...

message 8: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments I downloaded it to my Nook and have read 120 of the 765 pages. I'm still waiting for something to happen. I did see a really cool trailer for the book on YouTube that makes me excited about reading it. Sorry, I don't have the link.

message 9: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Read it about a year ago, and liked it a lot.

message 10: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Oct 02, 2010 12:34PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I'm about halfway through. I had several books in my queue at the library and 15 showed up all at once...I'm a bit backed up.

message 11: by Nick (last edited Oct 02, 2010 02:55PM) (new)

Nick (doily) | 974 comments I finished Anathem last week. Loved it, though excessive length is something that gives me a problem. I really wanted it to end about page 600.

message 12: by Richelle (new)

Richelle (richellet) | 9 comments I'm about 40 pages in. I'm fine with very little action as the descriptions and world building is fascinating. I'm not worried about the length. I like long books :)

message 13: by Staci (new)

Staci | 47 comments I'm listening to this one on audio and really enjoying it so far. Had to force myselft to stop listening at 1am this morning to get some sleep. I'm a little over half way through, on part 15 of 28.

message 14: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Just barely started it yesterday. I like long books, too, if they're good.

message 15: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments I read this last Winter, January or Feb and after a bit od rough start thought it was Awesome.

message 16: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (readingfairytales) I've got this checked out from the library, so I hope to start it soon.

message 17: by Tom (new)

Tom (fermionace) | 2 comments I read it a few months after it was originally released. I really enjoyed it, but it was very long. I think I remember most of it, so I'm looking forward to seeing (and hopefully participating in) the discussion.

message 18: by Ann (new)

Ann Hutchinson (clevergirl) | 1 comments Read the advance review copy. I think I still remember it enough to contribute to discussion. Can't remember what my first impressions were, though.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I'm a little more than half way through and not really impressed. I'm not nearly as impressed with the book as it is with itself...if you get what I mean. I'm not to the "skim forward to get through it" stage yet. It has some interesting points in it's favor, but over all, I'm not greatly taken.

message 20: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Did someone say the narrator is unreliable? I'm getting the feel of someone naive who swallows all the propaganda.

message 21: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Oct 05, 2010 07:53PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I feel more as if there's a couple of layers of supercilious attitude atop a general assumption of superiority. I'm don't think the narrator is classic "unreliable" so much as sure of his own superiority and the superiority of the system he's part of. That's the impression I get any way.

message 22: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Hmm. Maybe that's it. I'm only on p. 29.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) As said, I'm more than half way through (no spoilers) there are some things I like, some I don't. (That is of course, just me.) It is a bit wordy and dense in some ways, you'll need to cut fairly deeply into it to get a taste for where it's going.

message 24: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments I'm up to the part where Erasmus gets out of his penance. I'm having a hard time connecting to him because he's an infuriatingly teenage boy. Yes, he thinks he's part of some super-superior group, but that's what he was taught and he isn't exposed to other ways of life. I'm finding the whole concept of oners, tenners, hudreders, and thousanders quite perplexing. How did this society spring up that shelters people from not only the outside world, but from different echelons of their own math for such rigid periods of time?

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) This is the non-spoiler carefully, here goes.

The concents were established thousands of years before the book begins after the near collapse of the entire society. There have apparently been some near misses since. Those who live in the concents are divided and live apart from each other in groups just as all who live in the concent are separated from the Seculum, (the outside world and those who live outside.) There is a festival, "Apert" where the doors of the concent are opened to the outside world. The 4 groups that live in the concent separated from each other are separated by how long their group is isolated between being exposed to other groups and also the outside world. The "1ers" open their gates each year. The "10ers" open their gates (their section is apparently deeper"inside" the concent than the "1ers") each 10 years, the "100ers" each 100 years and then the "1000ers" only open their gates each 1000 years. This of course always happens on the same day ("Apert") the only difference being that the 1000ers only get word from the outside each 1000 years etc.

Clear as mud (LOL). Hope none of that is a spoiler it seems like pretty much just a slight synopsis of the concents.

message 26: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments I never got the we are better them attitude. It was more of a we are different than them.

message 27: by Sandra (last edited Oct 10, 2010 02:55PM) (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Here's the YouTube trailer if anyone's interested:


I'm finding the vocabulary a little cutesy.

message 28: by Jeff (last edited Oct 11, 2010 12:35PM) (new)

Jeff Watson | 55 comments I am a quarter of the way through the book and just about to start Part 5: Voco. One word, in my opinion, describes the book so far and this word is based on the definitions of the word in this book:


That said, I'm continuing to read the book but I don't know why. The pace is glacial. The characters somewhat interesting. The descriptions are marvelous. The plot as slow as the pace.

I am hoping it starts to pick up soon.

message 29: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Jeff wrote: "I am a quarter of the way through the book and just about to start Part 5: Voco. One word, in my opinion, describes the book so far and this word is based on the definitions of the word in this boo..."

::shaking with laughter:: - thanks, Jeff, for giving me my first belly laugh of the day. I tend to agree. But I'm only on p. 125.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I finished has good points and bad but I admit that my reaction when I got through with it was, "finally".

message 31: by Richelle (new)

Richelle (richellet) | 9 comments Ken wrote: "I never got the we are better them attitude. It was more of a we are different than them."

I agree. Once I got to the part where Apert is occuring, I feel that the attitude of at least the narrator is that living like he does is not for everyone, but everyone that can should. It is a spiritual, philosophical life, but he doesn't seem to hold disdain for those not living it. He understands they are ignorant of the things he studies, and he tries to defend them from making blunders when they visit inside, and (gently) educate them as he can.

message 32: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "I finished has good points and bad but I admit that my reaction when I got through with it was, "finally"."

My reaction was the opposite. Really! that's it? There is no more? I thought the book very very good. Each part ratcheted up the storyline till we got to the freako ending

message 33: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Oct 11, 2010 07:36PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) ...not to me, but it's a matter of taste I think. I "liked" (a little) some of the debates....and had to at least appreciate the world building. Other than that not to impressed.

message 34: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments ARRRGH!!!!!!!!!! I have less than 200 pages to go and my Nook won't wake up. I have a replacement on the way, but I have to wait a few days to get it.

message 35: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
See, that never happens to us old luddites who don't do the ebook thing :)

message 36: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments Well, I do have plenty of paper books. I'll finish reading the upcoming Dean Koontz novel. (It's really, really good.) Then, I can start on Blackout and All Clear.

message 37: by Grey (new)

Grey (spaceharper) | 15 comments I read this when it came out, and I loved it.

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