While I enjoyed many aspects of this book, including the characters and different time periods used, it was overall a letdown as the story just peters out and doesn't really leave me satisfied.
I read the book on the recommendation of an IT friend thinking that it would be more about cyber. They did talk quite a bit about cyber and although I found those portions to be interesting, they were a little disjointed and really seemed more to be an excuse to talk about sex and masturbation. A popular topic, to be sure, but not really important to the story. After I'd finished, my first thought was about the 40+ hours I'd spent listening to it and how many other books I could've listened to during that time.
While the book is quite good, Audible has still not fixed the out of order chapters people have noted before. Selling defective books is really not acceptable.
I think he was doing a fine job until he got to the Japanese. Here he totally butchered all of the names. It is one thing if they were filtered through the American characters ability, or lack thereof, to pronounce Japanese, but when during Goto Dengo’s storyline Ninomiya became Ninomaya I turned off the book. I’m not looking for perfection, but that was just horrible. I eventually went back to listening because I really wanted to know the rest of the story, becuase I really, really loved this book, and didn’t have the printed book at hand.
Shaftoe's debrief by a certain Army Lieutenant.
This is the first Neal Stephenson book I've read or listened to and I found it absolutely enthralling. The author's sense of humor is such that I often found the minutia (this is a long book and there is a lot of minutia) of the story captivating and hilarious. His character development is among the best I've read/listened to.
As a life-long member of the geeky introvert club I found his characterization of that archetype to be particularly enlightening, funny and just spot on.
I've since picked up Snow Crash and couldn't finish it. I guess the post cyber punk thing isn't for me, but I will certainly be picking up all his other historical fiction works.
The story unfolds in parallel threads, existing in the past and the recent-present, that reveal the plot in a fun way. Stephenson takes you all over the world and across time while letting you get to know some fun personalities. All of this happens at a brisk pace that will keep the listener engaged.
If you enjoy the idea of cyphers, the pre-history of computers and learning about some contemporary technology this book will entertain you. But don't assume that it's all about the tech. It's full of activity, from diving, combat, digging, hacking and excellent conversation.
William Dufris is a gifted narrator (I rarely encounter anything less with Audible these days) who expertly reads while inhabiting a large variety of characters of different sex and nationality. He's a one-man acting troupe, but you won't be cognizant of his efforts. You'll just enjoy the narrative.
The bottom line is that I looked for opportunities to listen to this whenever I could and I was sad when it was all over.
I've read a lot of Neal Stephenson, so I knew to expect brilliant writing that didn't necessarily go anywhere for a while. I'll say this, for once he didn't write a terrible ending. Maybe it's not brilliant, but it wasn't one of his books that falls apart at the end.
I really liked the book, but I really went on faith through hours, and hours, of narration. I commented a number of times to my husband, a computer scientist, that I'm not really enough of a geek for this book. Also, that I knew he'd love it, because he is.
I was engaged in the story, but not in that ignore my family and responsibilities way, until the middle of the second to last download. At that point, the characters finally took on life for me, and I really cared about what was happening.
I would be cautious in my recommendation to read this. For Stephenson fans or for those very interested in the history of computers and cryptology, I'd say it's a definite read. For others, I'm not sure they would want to get through the long descriptions.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
Cryptonomicon is just so good. I was expecting a cyberpunk story, but I wasn't expecting to learn the crazy math, history of computers and war. It feels like reading about the Vietnam War and the Nazi with the infrastructure of code breaking on a data island, but set in the past.
There are some laugh out loud moments. For example, the theory of masturbation was totally funny. Cryptonomicon almost felt like it was written as a comedy, thriller action, that only geeks will like. The story is not so hard to follow because you can quickly get into the plot.
The best way to describe Cryptonomicon is, imagine a techno geek in the Second World War, but with modern day inventions to win the digital war.
To sum up this review, if Neal Stephenson needed a director for the movie, Quentin Tarantino would be a good match because the book almost reads like a mockery of an adaptation of history on WWII. Poking fun at the Nazi madness.
Picking up the book always put me off of diving into this story, as the thickness of the book just made me reflect that I couldn't invest the time necessary to get into it. This made it an excellent choice as my first Audible listen, and I didn't regret it.
William Dufris does an amazing job capturing the voice of the different characters... the needed character reminders of "Randy said" or "Shafto commanded" start to become noticeable, due to the fact that they don't seem to be necessary... at no point was I confused as to who was saying something, due to Mr. Dufris spectacular voicing.