Book Review: The Diamond Age

Rating: 👎

Heavily opinionated claims and spoilers ahead.

I did not enjoy and do not recommend The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson. It was a particularly disappointing read for me because of how much I enjoyed Snow Crash last month.

The Diamond Age should be called The Rough (Unpolished) Diamond, as this could have been a great book. Imagining what a post-scarcity world full of accessible nanotechnology and universal 3D “matter printers” looks like is cool!

But the story just whipped around between these vignettes. I never really knew who to care about, and if a character had been around long enough that it seemed like I probably should care about them, I just…didn’t? I was never particularly excited to return to the book, and it took me a long time to read because of my general apathy towards the story.

Skull guns - cool. Blood-based electro-mites creating mega-consciousness collectively designing the next generation of matter creation - sweet. Storybooks teaching a teen about Turing machines through interactive castle-based puzzles - wicked.

Teenage rape (again) and not-so-subtle mentioning of how hot/perfect young girls are - Jesus, dude. Underground orgies culminating in spontaneous combustion - somehow boring? Another main character wielding a sword - less cool the second time around. Unrelated characters interacting in ways that are meant to be but don’t feel meaningful, grim settings I can’t (or don’t care to) imagine fully, and a general lack of a thread - painful.