The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

The Diamond Age by Neal StephensonThe Diamond Age: or, a a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
Published: Spectra (1995), Paperback, 499pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi

In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson took science fiction to dazzling new levels. Now, in The Diamond Age, he delivers another stunning tale. Set in twenty-first-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens when a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life --- and the entire future of humanity --- is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.... (from Goodreads)

It’s so good! It’s futuristic, weird science-y (guns are implanted into skulls?), and it’s got lots of good stuff about society and human nature and whatnot. Except for the ending, I really liked it. The best character was, of course, Nell, but the others weren’t too bad, either. I mostly find myself remembering the science stuff, though, so I don’t know if that means it was more interesting than the characters or if I was just more interested in everything but the characters. (Though like I said, I did really like Nell. Which is why I was so disappointed with the ending.)

I do wish there had been more with the judge and his investigators, though. They had a SUPER-DUPER section in the beginning of the book, really good stuff (almost a scifi Law & Order), and then they disappeared for the rest of the book. Boo!

My favorite part was the Primer, a computer program brought into physical space as a book. The Primer is basically a magical object, with all the dangers and benefits that entails. See, the primer mixes real life and fictional life: it builds fictional stories based on the reader’s life, meant to teach them about math or science or morality. It’s the ultimate Mary Sue experience, but BETTER because Nell tends to take those fictional stories and turn them into reality. The blending of fiction/reality is super cool…and kinda creepy. It makes for good reading, that’s for sure.

The Diamond Age is a coming-of-age story, yes, but it’s also a quest story! And I loved that Nell’s relationship with her Primer was such a fundamental part of her quest/coming-of-age. Yay books!

Read: September 12 to 26, 2013

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