The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Neal Stephenson’s early cyberpunk novel The Diamond Age is… so many things. Ultimately, I feel like it was a thing that I should have been able to appreciate, but couldn’t. It’s a long haul, and blends hard sci-fi, steampunk neo-Victorian culture, children’s literature, dystopian sci-fi, cults, and political upheaval all set in a futuristic China. That was a lot of constant, ultra-developed kitsch that, for me, got in the way of what could have been a more compelling story. One of Stephenson’s strengths is his ability to explain, in a fully realized way, the smallest details of his mind’s creation. However, in this novel I felt it put the book at a disadvantage. The explanations overwhelm the story itself, which is quite frenetic and convoluted in its own right. I admire Stephenson as an author, but this novel was ultimately just not the right match for me.