It's sheer cleverness. That I really liked the characters, they seemed real to me.
When little Nell was safe.
This book is not pure scifi ie it does not take current science/world and extrapolate to a plausible possible future.
It takes literary elements from the past and some aspects of current science and creates a mish mashed future dystopian world.
This may annoy some readers.
However after I got over being annoyed it is very well written and the voice while annoying is appropriate for the story, if that makes sense.
It does deserve its HUGO award.
A great audio book.
The plot is complicated and enjoyable. The narration was above average (it was good, but I don't want to say every narration is good).
There is currently a problem with the audio. There were 6 or 7 instances where the audio would get all fuzzy with static and then come back again in 5 to 10 seconds. I did some checking and the problem was with my file, not the device. This isn't really a problem as you can still hear what's going on, but I was expecting a top-notch performance based on the book and author and getting the static makes it seem slip-shod.
This was my second listen of the audio version narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie, which I enjoyed more thoroughly than the first time. Perhaps the main reason for this was that I happened to listen to Oliver Twist in between and discovered that Neal Stephenson had written a wonderful homage to Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, unbeknownst to me. That is not to say that reading Oliver Twist is a requirement for liking this book, but that it is a great way to fully appreciate the author’s style in this story, which was somewhat foreign to me at first. The Diamond Age is the sort of book that has the amusing ability to make me feel both more and less intelligent than I really am. Stephenson has a style of genre bending all his own that I like to think of as Neal-punk. At times he’ll mix it with some Dickensian dialogue that makes perfect sense to me. Other times his writing flies right over my head and convinces me that I’d need a significant amount of time and effort doing research in order to get his meaning, which is okay with me. It all lends itself to the sort of layered writing that bears up well to multiple readings, getting more and more understanding and appreciation each time. That is not so say that it requires a re-read in order to enjoy, it just helped me out quite a bit. I also happen to be an avid re-reader.
The characters in this book are diverse, interesting, often funny, and easy to sympathize with, especially Nell. I would mostly recommend this to people who enjoy an esoteric story that gives you a lot of food for thought. Neal Stephenson has a bit of a reputation for writing not-so-great endings. I don’t think The Diamond Age has a cut and dried conclusion, leaving room for the listener’s own imagination to wonder about and fill in some details. I can see how this may be dissatisfying to some, but I rather like a story that leaves me thinking about it afterwards. Jennifer Wiltsie did an excellent job with the narration, smoothly going from one character’s voice to another and delivering some lovely Victorian dialogue flawlessly to my American ears. All in all, I found it to be unique, imaginative, and quite fun.
This is one of the few books that made me go "wow"! The story and narration are great, but there are some real ideas here that you will think about for a long time after its over.
What does a society do when nanotechnology can provide all basic needs?
How do people get a "tribal" sense of belonging when there are no nations left?
Can you formulate a learning process customized to each individual child?
While these may sound like totally different topics, this and more are developed by this book. In some cases the ideas overshadowed the story: the ideas were fully formed, but there were some loose ends in the story. I would like a sequel just to know what happened to some of the characters.
Admittedly, I am picky when it comes to books. This one was too long and did not connect with me as quickly as I would have liked.
There were interesting ideas about society and technology.
I do not understand how the author of Cryptonomicon could have authored this book. While it shares a few stylistic similarities with the excellent storytelling of Cryptonomicon, this book was so bad I could not wait for it to be over. I listened all the way to the end just hoping it would somehow magically make sense, but alas by the time it ended I was just happy it was over.
It's wasn't the futuristic storyline that made the difference, It was just so disjointed that I found it impossible to follow the story or even to care about the characters.
The performance of the book was fine but the story was just too bizarre to keep my interest.
I probably wouldn't listen again because it's quite long and I remember it well, but the narrator is so great that if I were to listen again, it would be a pleasure.
An excellent narrator makes all the difference. I surely wish this narrator had done Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy.
Maybe for cyberpunk SF fans, I see this book got good reviews.
No more cyberpunk for me
The author is a genius, which means it's sometimes a little difficult for me to follow the twists and turns of his stories - which doesn't make them any less entertaining! This one is no exception, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The ending could have been a bit more polished, but it was okay, and is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 (endings are important to me). The narrator did a wonderful job and allowed me to immerse myself into the story without being snapped out by bad narration. The only actual criticism is a technical one... There are a number of audio glitches in it which, in my opinion, should have been cleaned up before publishing, as they really DO detract from the immersive experience. Fortunately, though there are several, they're all brief, so I was able to get back into the story pretty quick. Maybe there should be a rating score for "Audio Quality" or some such.