Customer Reviews for

Anathem

Average Rating 4.5
( 242 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(141)

4 Star

(66)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Anathem - loved it

My first Neal Stephenson book so I have nothing to compare it to, but I considered it to be quite impressive. The first 1/3-1/2 were very slow and methodical, with a great deal of character and thought development. The rest of the book was much faster-paced and dramat...
My first Neal Stephenson book so I have nothing to compare it to, but I considered it to be quite impressive. The first 1/3-1/2 were very slow and methodical, with a great deal of character and thought development. The rest of the book was much faster-paced and dramatic. I appreciated the inital groundwork that Stephenson established and thought it paid dividends thereafter.

The book is part escapist sci-fi, part philisophical exploration, part human introspection. These happen to all be fascinating subjects for me, so I was hooked.

It is definitely not light reading. I found myself constantly referring to the appendix to remember definitions, and to the timeline at the beginning of the book to aid my comprehension. I read and re-read several excerpts that I struggled to digest the first go-around. But that's my kind of book -- I like to be challenged mentally, and Anathem nailed it.

It was over 900 pages, but I didn't mind -- wished it had kept going. Would have liked to have seen the toils of the "second reconstruction," and further character development of Raz, Ala, Tulia, Jesry, Arisbalt, Lio, etc. as they aged. I'll miss them.

I'm now a Neal Stephenson fan and look forward to reading his other books.

posted by JDGreenwood on November 2, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Too Much...

I read the reviews on this book and figured that I would love it. I like longer books with a lot of detail and subplots. However, this book was just too intense. The main problem that I had was that the first 150 to 200-ish pages you practically have to learn a new l...
I read the reviews on this book and figured that I would love it. I like longer books with a lot of detail and subplots. However, this book was just too intense. The main problem that I had was that the first 150 to 200-ish pages you practically have to learn a new language in order to understand the book - and these are words solely for this storyline. It wouldn't have been too bad if I was learning real English words. Once you're finished with the book, you don't need the learned words anymore. Yes, there was a glossary, but who wants to stop reading and look up a word in the glossary literally every other sentence? I think this would have been an excellent book if it were toned down a little. The plot and subplots were actually very good and the book was well written. If it weren't for the constant new words that I had to learn for the story, I probably would have given this book a 4.

posted by D-Dawning on March 3, 2010

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  • Posted November 2, 2008

    Anathem - loved it

    My first Neal Stephenson book so I have nothing to compare it to, but I considered it to be quite impressive. The first 1/3-1/2 were very slow and methodical, with a great deal of character and thought development. The rest of the book was much faster-paced and dramatic. I appreciated the inital groundwork that Stephenson established and thought it paid dividends thereafter. <BR/><BR/>The book is part escapist sci-fi, part philisophical exploration, part human introspection. These happen to all be fascinating subjects for me, so I was hooked.<BR/><BR/>It is definitely not light reading. I found myself constantly referring to the appendix to remember definitions, and to the timeline at the beginning of the book to aid my comprehension. I read and re-read several excerpts that I struggled to digest the first go-around. But that's my kind of book -- I like to be challenged mentally, and Anathem nailed it.<BR/><BR/>It was over 900 pages, but I didn't mind -- wished it had kept going. Would have liked to have seen the toils of the "second reconstruction," and further character development of Raz, Ala, Tulia, Jesry, Arisbalt, Lio, etc. as they aged. I'll miss them.<BR/><BR/>I'm now a Neal Stephenson fan and look forward to reading his other books.

    14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2013

    So weird and good. Starts off a little slow, but then I was comp

    So weird and good. Starts off a little slow, but then I was completely submerged in this world. Loved it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2008

    This is a fascinating tale

    In the future on the planet Arbre, great thinkers are clustered behind the ¿Concent¿ walls where they control knowledge from the illogical thinking ¿Saecular¿ masses. Preadolescents who show a strong logical ability for rational thought are taken away from the masses to be educated as logical scientists or pragmatic mathematicians inside the cloisters. They learn early on their responsibilities as knowledge is power and knowledge used unwisely is dangerous thus must be coveted and protected.------------ Nineteen year old Raz showed signs of brilliance when he was eight, he was collected to be trained as a muse. He has become a ¿Tenner¿ over his decade plus of intense learning. Thus his time to go outside amongst the low life Saecular is coming an event he is allowed once every ten years hence a Tenner. However, the cloistered soon realizes a pandemic catastrophe from outer space is coming soon. Much of the older Concent members feel strongly that physical intervention is prohibited as they debate what to do. However, teens like Raz and those he associates with have not lost their need for adventure. Foolishly perhaps without adult supervision and some would say in violation of their elders, they set forth to save Arbre.---------- This is a fascinating tale mindful of Gulliver¿s Travels to Laputa, the flying island of scientists and mathematicians. The debates and discussions on history and the upcoming calamity are enjoyable to follow, but can turn tedious as long stretches purposely lack action those behind the walls are reflective thinkers not necessarily doers except perhaps the teens. Fans who appreciate a cerebral science fiction thriller with as much philosophizing as action will want to read Neal Stephenson¿s brillian, interesting but different ANATHEM.------------- Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2014

    Requires work, but well worth it in the end

    This is not light reading and there were times during the first few hundred pages where I felt lost in the language and history of the world Stephenson has created here. But at some point, I felt like I was part of that world and the past became my past, the language my language and I became totally immersed in Arbre. I do wonder, particularly later in the book, if I could have understood or enjoyed it as much without my degree in Physics as the subtleties of the various interpretations of Quantum Mechanics play such a central role.

    I'd place this on my bookshelf beside Foundation and Dune without hesitation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    This is quite possibly my new all-time favorite book. I finishe

    This is quite possibly my new all-time favorite book. I finished it a few weeks ago and have been hesitant to start another book just because I'm still thinking so much about Anathem. It took me a bit to really get into it, the first 150 pages or so were a struggle as I picked up the vocabulary, but it was most definitely worth sticking with and getting into. Math, science, and philosophy are some of my favorite subjects so of course that helped draw me in, but I think even someone not as interested in those subjects could still enjoy the book. I really enjoyed how thorough Stephenson was with everything in the book, and I know it's one I'll read many more times and enjoy each one of them. It's not an &quot;easy read&quot; and probably not a great fit for someone new to hard sci-fi, but it is a great intellectually stimulating book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2013

    Just finished my second read, because it requires 2 to barely sc

    Just finished my second read, because it requires 2 to barely scratch the surface of what is going. The book is a cleverly disguised

    lesson in Quantum theories. The beginning is an entry course, which defines the terms to be used and introduces you to the world. The middle is a bit more advanced, touching on some complicated theories. The final portion is where it all comes to a head, and the advanced theories are in play. It's difficult, but worth every minute. It's brilliant, and frankly could change how you view the truth of the universe. Should be considered a masterpiece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2012

    Stephenson is a fantastic author and this book is his best, in m

    Stephenson is a fantastic author and this book is his best, in my opinion. The ideas are what makes it so fantastic, you find yourself trying to make maps of the places and doing math to keep it all straight, not because it is unclear but because the ideas keep you going. It's like a good puzzle. I knew nothing about the story of this book going into it. I didn't even read the back of it and I would reccomend you do the same. Dive in and you will love Anathem.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Time and mind drifter

    'Monyafeek' who would have thought it'd be a love story?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Outstanding epic

    Anathem is the story of another world, of a cloistered world within that world, and of rhe courage to leave the cozy safety of that cloister to save a planet. The odds seem impossible--the protagonists, without personsal possessions, are armed only with their minds. But what minds they are.

    Anathem is an intellectual book, and moves slowly at the start, with the reader carried by Stephenson's deeply engaging style. Gentle humor and vivid imagery sustain the early development of the narrative. The reader's patience is later rewarded by gripping high adventure.

    This is not a simple read. It does not follow the standard formula of forgettable action-adventure novels. If you are looking for that, then skip this trilogy-length story. But I consider this one of the best pieces I have ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Will exercise your mind

    If you are a fan of philosophy, science, math, and the intersections between these fields, you will love this book. I scanned the timeline in the intro prior to reading, but found throughout the read that there were enough common parallels and interspersed definitions to get through without having to flip to the glossary (nook edition). The alternative setting is just close enough to understand, and yet far enough removed to introduce a wealth of challenging "what ifs," "what could have beens" and "what might yet be." I also found it a highly relevant commentary on our present society... whether set in it or not. I concede that the first parts of the book are slow reading, but those willing to hang in will be richly rewarded.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Very good book to read or listen to!

    We own this one in three mediums, Hard back, audio and now ebook. My wife and I both read this when nothing else strikes our fancy. There are always surprises in the twists of the plot that we seemed to miss or forget.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    Highly Recommended...but

    If you don't enjoy being thrown into a new world and made to learn that world then you probably wont enjoy this book. There is something wholly satisfying about the world that Stephenson creates, and I found myself not wanting to leave to the point where I drug on finishing it.

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    Some will love it

    And others will not. To sum up, all I can really say without ruining the plot is this: Stephenson develops his story in a way somewhat similar to Victor Hugo in his immortal classic Les Miserables. To enjoy Anathem, one must be willing to read at the pace that Stephenson dictates. If one has the paper version, it's the kind of book to make margin notes in. I loved the book, but that's no guarantee that you will.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    My Favorite Book

    Title says it all. Very philosophical. The friendships are very strong between the main characters. My only complaint is that the first 200 pages are sort of boring, but very necessary ground work.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    Yes he IS the coatrack hadrack....

    This is a bodacios read. Hats off and high dee ho's to Master Stephenson again.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    incredible reading

    A friend gave this to me, saying 'it's hard to describe'. She was right, anc I loved this book. Highly recommended if you love a bit of math, philosophy, and aliens.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Neal Stephenson at his best!!

    What a fabulous story. While reading this it sometimes reminded me of Atlas Shrugged, sometimes, Dune and some times like Robert Heinlein's Have Spacesuit will Travel. But mostly it is like nothing you will ever read. I highly recommend it!

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    I liked it a lot!

    But it helped to have taken classes in physics, philosophy and particularly, metaphysics.

    It's a very thought-provoking book and it kept me eagerly turning pages for its entire massive length... But it would have all been a bit much if I was encountering the philosophy/physics there for the first time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    One of my all-time favorites

    It is a real tome. I read the ebook version but the paperback version is over 1000 pages. Now I wish it had been longer! Such an *original* story with such good detail and memorable characters. I have read a couple other books by this author (Quicksilver, Cryptonomicron); I like Anathem the best so far.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    Stephenson has done it again!

    The world of Anathem has been built with loving hands by a writer with a very accessible style. So very easy to fall into and lose yourself in. If you have an appreciation of languages, math, science, and/or religion you will love this book.

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