I mentioned awhile back that I received Neal Stephenson’s Anathem for my birthday. This is his latest novel, a monstrous tome that weighs in at nearly 1000 pages, and was released in the latter half of last year. Early reviews seemed really lukewarm to me, in part because of the reveal that Stephenson employs a large invented vocabulary—which often seems to be a crutch or gimmick in the hands of inexperienced writers (not that Stephenson is one)—and in part because it seemed like following up The Baroque Cycle would be really, really hard.
Well, forget all that. Anathem is a fantastic book, and Stephenson’s best to date. Not only has he matured as a writer (leaps and bounds past his earlier works), he’s put together a tightly-plotted, internally consistent story that’s just dripping with good ideas and has at least one jaw-dropping, mind-blowing concept that, well, becomes a key plot point.
And, this book actually comes to a solid, satisfying conclusion—one of the major criticisms I’ve had with his earlier works.
It’s simply a joy to read, and I actually wanted to re-read it almost as soon as I’d finished. That’s a difficult trick to pull off.