Anathem, Parts 1-5
Anathem is a crazily large book, 937 pages (counting the acknowledgements) by Neal Stephenson. It has a deceivingly boring plot, about avouts, fraas and such in the equivalent of a monestary on a Earthlike planet. But it really picks up. It may seem like a departure for Stephenson, who usually dabbles in spacecraft, aliens, and technology (the characters in Anathem shun “speelys” i.e. video recorders and “jeejahs” i.e. Ipods), but trust me, it isn’t.
The book is rather hard to start. It doesn’t really pull you in at the beginning. You just have to trust it’s good and jump in. But then it all works. We are introduced to some great characters, including the main character. Anathem is written in first person, a boon for me. We later learn the kinda cheap trick that the book is a journal by the main character. But still, first person works better here than some random person talking about the inner psyches of the characters. Like Jane Eyre, it has a suprising amount of action. Lio, the main character’s best friend, spends his time being punched in the face so he can learn to fight back. It’s pretty funny. Soon enough, though, it becomes a And Then There Were None, without the killing. Erasmas (the main character) ‘s friends are all slowly taken out of the monestary. And there is an unsurprising conclusion to part five. Anathem is not much for surprises. I see all the dramatic things coming like a huge truck on a sunny day. But that’s not really a problem, since the rest of the book is so wonderful.
The characters are…well, they’re ALIIIIIVE! Because their actions make sense as do their emotions, I can almost overlook the fact that they’re absolutely brilliant 19-year-olds. Sure, they were raised to be smart. But that smart? No way. We have a family in Anathem. There’s Erasmas, at the center, Orolo, the father figure, Lio, the brother, Tulia, the love interest(?!?), etc. And you are never happy when one of these people leaves. Nice job on that, Neal.
Anathem is a very good book. It is simply a emotional social comment/philosophy/semi-mystery.