I get that this book was groundbreaking and has been massively influential on our culture, both literary and otherwise. However, I could not make myself finish this thing. I made it almost to the end and just stopped caring. Neither of the two main characters are particularly likable and every idea in this story has since been done better in other books. I couldn't get over how pretentious the whole thing feels--I could hear the smug satisfaction in Neal Stephenson's words. He frequently spends entire chapters explaining details that aren't relevant, or going on about history lessons that the reader's already figured out. The world he's created doesn't always make sense, either. Why would there be a company for the United States Government, if there's no United States? I made it well past the 75% mark and I still didn't understand half the motivations for the growing cast of characters. Doesn't help that the sound quality flickers back and forth--I found numerous examples where entire sentences just got washed out in bizarre distortion effects, and there's a large chunk later in the story where they just forget to mention what chapter they're on. It's not a terrible story, but it's got almost no merit now that all of its ideas have been done better since its release.
The reader was fine, though I found it a little annoying he kept pronouncing "Katana" as "Kuh-TAN-uh" instead of "Kuh-TAHN-uh."
The characters are fantastic and the whole thing has a very British-humor vibe. The story's complex and interesting with multiple layers working simultaneously, especially in the second half. The main character's understandable, if a touch on the unlikable side, but every other cast member's interesting enough to pull you through to the end.
The first time you get a hint of what the "Deleters" are really about piqued my attention to the point that I was more than willing to overlook the minor flaws.
It's great to hear Yahtzee's interpretation of his own characters, especially when he really starts putting some emotion into their more dramatic moments. He's not a voice actor by any stretch, but he does an admirable enough job.
The ending. It's a satisfying enough climax to all the different story arcs, while simultaneously managing to be a commentary on the state of certain archetypes in our fiction and a deconstruction of certain storytelling tropes.
I liked the book, and Yahtzee's a good enough reader, but it's not perfect by any stretch. His craft isn't as refined as a professional novelist's and the main character's the least sympathetic character in the story, making it hard to care what happens to him. The worldbuilding's no standout, but that's actually part of the story. It's funny, charming, and definitely entertaining, but I was hoping for just a bit more out of the renowned critic.
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