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Let me start by saying that up until Part 3, Seveneves was pegging my Top 10 books of all-time. While I first thought the premise was implausible, Stephenson starting working the technology and I gradually became entranced. He has a no holds barred writing style, and the storyline was filled with a continuous “Science the shit out of this” attitude made famous by “The Martian”. As the implausible became plausible, the main characters came to life as they struggled to make this happen. By the time Part 2 ended, I was at the edge of my seat simply amazed by what had taken place. But then it all went wrong.
The jump from Part 2 to Part 3 was simply too big. The emotional connections made to the main characters were lost. The eager anticipation as to what happens next was lost. And ultimately, the storyline was lost. Stephenson tried to tie everything back together, but the gap-filling backstory was too minimal to be satisfying, and a new level of fantastical science fiction reenergized the implausibility meter. The result was a less than compelling storyline filled with characters you cared nothing about.
The detailed application of advanced technology is what I love best about Stephenson’s books. In this regard “Seveneves” does this well at first, but then goes off the deep end. He’s a tremendous writer who is fearless at exploring new boundaries. But Part 3 should be a separate book, and its replacement needs to continue the excellent storyline developed in the first two sections. That is the story that I wanted to hear.
In summary, this book was totally worth one credit and I thought the first 2/3s was brilliant. I will definitely continue to buy and read Stephenson's books. I'm just sad for what this book could have been. And for those who criticize the narration, the only I can say is get over it. My experience is that woman have a tougher time doing men's voices. But it's mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. It was correct to have the first two sections narrated by a woman.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
This is a tough one to rate. There are long stretches of the book that are fascinating and fast moving. And there are stretches that feel even longer that are dishwater dull. Stephenson is usually able to keep technical discussions interesting -- Cryptonomicon, for example, deals with heavily complex subjects but doesn't get boring. Seveneves does.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron ?
Not sure about who I'd have read it instead, but Ms. Kowal made some very strange choices for main characters' voices. The producer/recording engineer/whoever was sitting in the booth also wasn't paying close attention--there are more than the usual number of garbled and mispronounced words. I get it; it's a long book. But this is not anywhere close to the best of all possible recordings.
211 of 229 people found this review helpful
Like all Stephenson novels, opinions differ wildly. Writers like him should be applauded at the very least for even an attempt at something of this size and scope. I got the edition narrated by Kowal and Damron, which worked very well indeed.
Underneath the science this is a simple story of faith, in that humankind has the ability to rise above the idiosyncrasies of 'type', even though resorting to 'type' in the novel was the device by which there was a chance at survival.
Stephenson is a mesmerising storyteller, and this ranks alongside Reamde and The Cryptonomicon as a favourite.
What disappointed you about Seveneves?
The narrator does all the British accents as if they are semi royalty, as a British person listening to this performance is really off-putting, and ruins the immersion of the story. There is no way that these characters would speak in the way that they are portrayed.
Would you be willing to try another one of Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron ’s performances?
Only if there are no British characters, or Mary Robinette Kowal stops trying to do British accents.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Very dissapointed, the story as usual from Neal Stephenson was excellent, but the narration completely spoils it.