Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

Stephenson (Snow Crash, 1992) imagines a 21st century in which molecular machines (nanotechnology) can create any desired object or structure. National governments have vanished, leaving society divided into enclaves along ethnic, cultural, and ideological lines, the most dynamic of which are the new-Victorian Atlanteans of coastal China. Talented nano-engineer John Hackworth designs an ... Read full review

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User Review  - TheDivineOomba - LibraryThing

I read this a long time ago - and didn't remember much of the plot. I think I didn't quite understand when I first read it. Luckily, I gave it a second shot - and found it a lot more interesting. This ... Read full review

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One of the best books I've ever read.

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I want to read it again.

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Audible very helpfully split this audiobook into multiple parts and due to my propensity for doing dumb things I listened to the second part first. It was one of the worst books I'd heard...that is until I got to part one and understanding dawned...doh! It turned out to be pretty good after listening to it in the proper order. I very much enjoyed the main story line about Nell and the sci-fi elements thereof. The ending was a little bla, but not a complete let down or cliff-hanger. The part about the book I didn't enjoy as much was the inner story about Princess Nell. I thought there was a little too much of it and not enough of the main line. I'd give the book an overall 3.5 if I could because it was above average. 

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This is my favorite book of all time. I love the well thought out ideas and the fairytale story within this well thought out hyper-futuristic yet realistic and believable world setting.
throughout the years since I first read the book, I've noticed more and more elements written about in the Diamond Age become reality through groundbreaking scientific discoveries. I enjoy living in the present, hurtling towards the future, feeling as though I know some of what we can expect in the coming years. Neil Stephenson really hit a lot of concepts on the head with this one. 

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I see glimmers of Neal Stephenson's later genius in this book. It's definitely a fun story with a completely unique setting, but I'm so used to his newer stuff and the brilliant, epic stories that this didn't quite live up.

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I get the feeling that Stephenson's writing process goes something like this:
<i>Hey, I found a really cool idea here. I wonder what I can do about it....</i>
He then writes about 200 pages of really awesome, meticulous world-building, with innovative ideas about, in the case of this book, the possibly uses of nanotechnology and its eventual social ramifications, and then goes, Oh, shit, I'm writing a story, and high-tails it to the end of the book, leaving the reader a little wind-blown and confused. It happened in Snow Crash, where he was playing with the origins of language and the fundamental functioning of the human mind. It happened in <i>Cryptonomicon</i>, where he dove into the murky waters of cryptography and brought up brilliant gems, and it happened here, too.
The Diamond Age is, fundamentally, about what would happen, or what might happen, if we really got nanotechnology working properly. How would society adapt if, suddenly, government became obsolete? With the Feed and the Matter Compilers able to create anything out of nothing, the entire economic and political underpinnings of the planet came undone, and people banded together into phyles. Like-minded individuals bonded with each other through shared values and morality, united only by a commonly upheld treaty which, in turn, rested on the new economy that nanotechnology allowed.
Within one of the phyles, the Neo-Victorians, one of the more highly-placed Lords realized what was wrong with the world. The problem wasn't the corruption of values of which the old always accuse the young - indeed it was that those values were passed on too well. Children did not elect to join their phyles, they were indoctrinated into them from birth, which made them, well, boring.
And so Lord Finkle-McGraw commissioned a great work - The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer to guide his granddaughter to a more interesting life. And had that been all that happened, the story would have been short. But two other copes of the Primer were made - one for the daughter of the book's designer, and another that fell into the hands of Nell, a young girl born into poverty and otherwise destined to lead a life of misery and sorrow.
The Primer is a smart book, fully interactive, able to teach reading, science, history and martial arts, among other things. And what it teaches little Nell is how to be great.
All of this is quite awesome - there's a great hunt for the Primer, plans within plans and all that. And then, suddenly, a new plot about a technology to supplant the Feed and some kind of Chinese revolution and the whole book runs off the rails.
I know a lot of people love Neal Stephenson, and I can understand why. He's an incomparably imaginative man, who is able to find ways to express ideas that some of us couldn't even imagine. He's an heir to the world of that William Gibson and his contemporaries pioneered. He creates captivating worlds and characters and problems without simple solutions.
He just keeps bollixing up the endings. Seriously, it's like a whole different story kicks in around page 250. I'm willing to read more of his works, though, in the hope that he's getting his act together....

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Adventures in the 22nd century after the perfection of nanotechnology. Another fantastic book from the author of Snow Crash. Liberally seasoned with utterly absurd words, which upon further research, can be found lurking in an ordinary dictionary! Reread - 6/26/06 - Very worthwhile to read again. The ending makes sense this time. 

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - chriszodrow - LibraryThing

Imagination is alive and well, and Stephenson seems to be it's current literary keeper. Amazing stuff. Read full review

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