Cryptonomicon is a ridiculously good book. Neal Stephenson is a genius. If you have an interest in World War II, codebreaking, and UNIX, this is the book for you. It is written in a manner such that even people previously unfamiliar with those topics can understand them.
There are no words. Just read it.
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I also majored in math and know what a Riemann Zeta function is. A background in computer science and a knowledge of cryptography helps as well. I'm sure you can enjoy this book without knowing this stuff, there are just a lot of references with these you'll miss and you might find some of the content tedious. My mom gave up on the book.
The book takes place in two time periods: WWII and the 1999s. It gives the reader an enjoyable history lesson laced with humor and sarcasm, for example: "Patton had the bad taste to capture Messina before Montgomery, who had been planning to be there first". .
The book is not a casual read and ion the end I went back and reread much of it to really appreciate and grasp what was going on.
The book was performed well. The reader did a great job with a huge variety of characters and accents. Overall, I was happy I made the effort to go through the book.
The production quality of the audiobook is great. The story has a few interesting bits, but meanders around, takes a few too many side trips to get anywhere, and the characters are horribly unrealistic.
I have had a devil of a time trying to explain this book to my wife and why it's so amazing, but let me try once more = This novel is about fifty years of war and life and business as seen through the eyes of a WWII code-breaker who helps invent computers, and then two generations later as his programmer-grandson tries to get a startup company going in the Philippines. It's funny, its tragic, its history, Its treasure hunting, programming, math, and probability. Its a whole bunch of geekiness.
Certainly appropriate for college age and up. Maybe not for some high school more naive types.
Neal Stephenson mixes history and alchemy. Alan Turing, Ronald Reagan and Komodo dragons. Oh my!
...and if it's gonna take 7 pages to explain the math, by God, it's gotta be.
This was a very long story - and quite interesting - but slowly told and the end left me rather disappointed. The book just ended - I perceived no building storyline intensity and then the story ended. There is so much rich story in here - I thought the author could have done more with it.
I am constantly listening to Audible books and reading one or more print books. This is the only book I have given up on in five years. I am going against the tide here but I felt this book was too long and some of the rabbit holes the author explored really didn't add to the story. I got 3/5 of the way through before giving up. I kept waiting for something to happen in the story but it didn't in the hours I spent listening.
Some of the sections he included didn't add anything to the book. I really didn't care to get pages of description of his breakfast cereal.
Yes, because 50% of it would be removed to make a movie
When I read Anathem, which I thought was a masterpiece, I had only one minor quibble, which was that Stephenson's description of the organ machinery near the beginning was overly long and tedious without adding anything important to the story. I chose Cryptonomicon in hopes that it would be a similarly fascinating story, but what I found instead was the same frustrating flaw, this time repeated over and over again throughout the entire 100+ chapters. Don't get me wrong; Stephenson is a master wordsmith that can spin out metaphors like nobody's business, but I really don't need multiple pages on the special experience of eating a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal, complete with texture, shape, milk distribution, temperature, etc. (I kid you not). It's the kind of thing that makes you want to open a vein. Worse, when the book finally ends, you've already known almost exactly where the plot was going for quite some time, and all the details are just suddenly tied together as if the author woke up abruptly and realized that he'd been going on too long and needed to put this thing out of its misery or it would never stop.
All that having been said, the book does have some redeeming qualities. Once I was about a third of the way in I'd grown accustomed to the style and didn't just stop reading, even though I suspected there would be no big pay off towards the end as there was with Anathem. The narration was a big reason for that, as it was perhaps the best of any audio book I've ever heard. Every paragraph was a performance, not just a reading. The priceless impersonation of Douglas MacArthur alone made me smile every time I heard it. And Stephenson did manage to inject some pretty good humor from time to time. The hyperbolic description of a particular bus ride in the Philippines made me laugh out loud and continue chuckling about it for a long time afterwards.
A good writer knows when to leave things out, or when to trust an editor to cut them out. That doesn't seem to have happened here. If you think you can forgive that sin and go in with the right expectations, you might still enjoy the read. Otherwise I'd move on.
The book is great, and the narrator has a nice voice and a decent cadence, but the non-standard pronunciations started to get on my nerves after a while.