Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (review)

I did not expect to like this book that much. I started it months ago only to abandon it to Game of Thrones; it’s only when I picked it up again and gave it the attention it deserved that I got hooked.

Let’s not shirk the reality: Cryptonomicon is a big sprawling thing of a book. It has three main characters and a flurry of minor ones which become hard to keep track of at first. But eventually, every piece of the puzzle moves in place and everything makes sense.

This is the ultimate geek novel. It’s about people who probably weren’t very popular in high school but whose smarts put them ahead of the game as soon as appearances lose their importance. It’s also about your typical WWII hero… or maybe not that typical.

Despite its length, the book is full of action. Not a chapter goes on without some major plot point happening. This is one thing I appreciated about this book: it keeps you on your toes. I always wanted to read on to know what was going to happen. I found Stephenson’s peculiar mix of fate and pure chance quite attractive. I don’t especially enjoy stories where everything is fated; for example, the seemingly meaningless “Lavender Rose Waterhouse” (at least meaningless to those who wrote it) begins a quest that has a lot in common with destiny, and yet isn’t quite fate.

To be honest, I found Randy, the main character, a bit infuriating. He’s smart, yes, but he just coasts along the story for a very, very long time, letting himself be lead around by Avi and the Shaftoes. It’s only when he finally decides to act that his character really shows. And that’s very late in a very big book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It brought me back to my love of everything nerdy and geeky. But just a warning: only pick it up if you have a lot of time on your hands or a lot of reading stamina. Because this isn’t the overnight reading kind.




Filed under Books, Reviews

3 responses to “Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (review)

  1. ohilya

    Ah, Cryptonomicon. Such a delightful book. Delightful visual gags and oddball imagery on every page.

    • Anabelle

      I still can’t forget the image of the cables running across England all the way to Bletcheley Park. It was wonderful.

      • ohilya

        Equally lovely, the image of Lawrence at the edge of the ocean, looking out at the waves, thinking of the waves as being complex Turing machines (on page 553 of the North American paperback edition). The prose in that book – Stephenson at his finest I tells ya.

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