1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read. . .
Going in to CRYPTONOMICON, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I'd never read anything by Neal Stephenson, nor had I read any blurbs or reviews of the book. However, it had appeared on enough "Best Book" lists that I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.
This novel is fun, huge, funny, rambling, witty, and sprawling. It is clever, engaging, and...
Published on Aug. 7 2002 by Nathan
3.0 out of 5 stars Great author
....tough book for me to get into. Highly Math oriented and sometimes I would get bogged down in all of that. But Mr Stephenson sure knows how to tell a fascinating story
Published 2 months ago by Shell Beckwith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read. . .,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Hardcover)Going in to CRYPTONOMICON, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I'd never read anything by Neal Stephenson, nor had I read any blurbs or reviews of the book. However, it had appeared on enough "Best Book" lists that I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.
This novel is fun, huge, funny, rambling, witty, and sprawling. It is clever, engaging, and well-paced. It is full of quirky, eccentric, immensely likeable characters, crazy, interesting ideas, and amusing, often hilarious, looks at various situations including, but not limited to, mathematics, life, how to eat Cap'n Crunch properly, the purpose of beards, and well, just about anything else you can think of. Obviously, then, this book is not for everyone. Those who like tight, meticulously pared-down straightforward stories may not be able to get into this one.
For me, though, as you may have guessed from the title of the review, this book was an absolute joy to read. The books chapters cycled between four main characters, and every time I finished a chapter I found myself in an awkward position: I didn't want to go on, because I wanted to keep reading about the character I'd been following. However, by the end of the first paragraph of the next chapter, I'd be feeling the same way about the next character in the cycle. It was an odd feeling, and a tribute to the skill with which Stephenson created these characters that each of them was so completely engaging.
In addition to the main characters, the settings and situations were vivid and well-drawn. Despite this books immensity and its tendency to ramble at length about inanity, it never got boring, and always retained its charm. Stephenson provides us with a very amusing outlook on life.
However, this book is not without flaws, the two biggest of which have been noted in previous reviews:
1) Women. There are no really well-developed female characters. Most of the women have virtually no "screen time" at all, and the one who does have quite a bit of time is not fully realized as a character. It would have been very helpful to have gotten inside her head once in a while.
2) The ending. This book kind of just ends, without resolving properly. It feels like it just cuts off, and that was kind of unsatisfactory. Randy's story deserved at least another chapter or an epilogue of some sort to tie-up the plot. Alas, Stephenson, at the end, couldn't deliver.
So, as I've said, this book is delightfully readable, and if not for the sudden ending, would easily have garnered a 5/5 rating. I'm definitely looking forward to the next CRYPTONOMICON book (which, if I'm not mistaken, is intended to stand alone; it will not be a sequel, per se).
3.0 out of 5 stars Great author,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon: A Novel (Kindle Edition)....tough book for me to get into. Highly Math oriented and sometimes I would get bogged down in all of that. But Mr Stephenson sure knows how to tell a fascinating story
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon: A Novel (Kindle Edition)I will admit that I only read two chapters of this book (which is why he got two stars instead of the one I was going to give him). I finished the second chapter weeks ago and thought I would just take a break before picking it up again, but alas I cannot force myself to do so.
I don't know anything about Neal Stephenson - I have never read any of his other works. This book had such glowing reviews that I thought this might be a good place to start. Here is what I now think of Stephenson:
He is either:
A. A brilliant individual who's mind works at such a high level that the rest of us have to struggle to keep up even when he is trying to make things understandable for us poor saps, or
B. A jerk who feels that filling his book with ridiculously technical narrative and mathematical equations will:
- Make him seem brilliant thus forcing the average person to look at him with awe.
- Make readers who did not understand what the hell he was saying declare that this must be a great book because of this fact (so as not to appear unintelligent)
I'm leaning towards B. I have read a lot of books that may have some technical aspects or terminology I didn't understand at that time, but I always read it thinking it was just something I hadn't come across in life so I will learn about it now. This book made me feel like the author was trying to show off his superior intellect by making me feel dumb.
My school days of being forced to read something I didn't want to for the sake of 'education' are long past me. I read for entertainment now so I refuse to go any further into a book I don't find entertaining in any way. I agree that it is impossible to judge a book accurately based on only two chapters, and perhaps if I continued I may see the greatness that others have come to see in this story, but life is short and I would like to spend my time doing something I like. This book ain't it!!
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Mass Market Paperback)I don't know what else to add to this book that has not been said before. This book is a true classic!
4.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Multy Generation Adventure - Codes - Paranoia - Page Turning Book,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Mass Market Paperback)This book will appeal to people interested in World War II, cryptography, paranoia at the highest level, swash buckling adventures, the power of money, commerce, international communications networking; which probably covers 80% of the readers in the world.
Unlike Stephenson's book called Snow Crash (Highly recommended) this story is one in the present time with deep links back to the 1940's during World War II.
The main characters are Bobby Shaftoe- a grunt in WW II Marines; Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse - a cryptography and code geek at the highest level; Goto Dengo - a Japanese soldier who follows orders without question, any order; Avi - super super paranoid genius and business person: Rudy - who ends up working for the Nazi's during WW II. Along with a large supporting cast of characters
The bulk of the story revolves around creating and breaking codes during WW II and then extends beyond that as future off spring of the main characters run into each other when developing a data crypt in the Philippines, while looking for some long ago buried gold (literally tons of it).
They intermingle and run into mostly bad guys along the way.
Stephenson fully develops each character and we are privy to what they are thinking during various situations. The evolution of computers is blended into the story line as well.
The various story arcs move along at a fast pace which is god as the book is over 1100 pages long.
Recommended. I have Stephensons ReaMd on my shelf to read and am looking forward to it based on the last two books I have read from this author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenominal,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)This book starts very slow, and you're wondering how these characters and timelines are related. But patience really pays off. After a couple hundred pages, you are deeply involved in these characters.
I explain to my friends that this book is not written as science fiction. The tech/science mentioned is either today or near-today. What is science fiction is what it make you THINK.
The science is rock solid, one of the few authors who doesn't treat computers (my business) as a magic black box that does wonderful things for you. The main characters are pleasantly solid, yet excentrically unique. They are unfortunately the only characters with any depth.
My business partner is a huge fan of the author's, and has pushed me to read several of his books. This is the only one I have liked.
As Clancy made 250 pages of how to construct a nuclear bomb interesting, Stephenson makes you WANT to understand how cryptography works, and gives you increasingly complex explanations over the entire length of the book, fleshing out the explanations and definitions of many of the critical concepts.
The characters he creates leave you with the sense that they are true to life, but shown in a twisted way leading to many different levels of humor. I found myself laughing at a joke three times. Separate times, in three different places in the book, as the events in that place further illuminated the joke told several chapters back. There were surprises around every corner.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cyberpunk and WWII war story smashed into one,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Mass Market Paperback)I don't usually place much weight into the book reviews publishers tag on back covers, but the review on this book really does describe it - this book is Tom Clancy mated with William Gibson with James Mitchner acting as a midwife.
Even though this book is an astounding 1200+ pages, it is an engrossing read. Like Mitchner, the story weaves the lives of many generations together through a common theme. Except Mitchner never wrote about lives so exciting (Apologies to any Mitchner fans - but Hawaii was a little dull.)
There are many character threads and stories in the book, but the two main ones are the story of a WWII cryptographer (Clancy style), and the story of his Silicon Valley grandson's pursuit of an offshore data center and advanced cryptography (Gibson style). Both threads are thoroughly engrossing. The book paces perfectly, it never gets too frentic or too dull.
The character development is also done very well - Stevenson doesn't clutter the book with too many marginal characters besides his main ones and he makes most the characters very memorable. This leaves him lots of time to develop his main characters into complex and interesting people.
Stevenson's writing style is also very readable, yet not as flat as the standard supermarket fiction (or bad sci-fi for that matter). The different story threads are written in a different tone, and Stevenson uses his command of tone to provide even more character and plot development. For example, his savant WWI cryptographer thinks in mathmatical proofs, his modern-day cyberpunk in Tolkein-inspired metaphors.
Regardless, I still highly recommend this book to any cyberpunk fans, war story fans, or math geeks.
4.0 out of 5 stars Entrancing,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Mass Market Paperback)Neal Stephenson ably juggles multiple story lines in multiple timelines with a variety of fascinating and quirky characters while also managing to develop a fascinating treatise on encryption and its development in the 20th century. An absolutely excellent novel. A superb introduction to the development and value of encryption with some wonderful reference material in the back end of the book. The concept that develops toward the end of the book may move towards a hacker pie-in-the-sky concept (see Bitcoin and its troubles), but the narrative run of the book manages to overwhelm that issue with its sheer sense of fun. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest reads I had the pleasure of in my adult life,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Mass Market Paperback)It's been years now, but I can still recall the utter absorption... the humour, marvelous wit, the history come alive, ... this is a suspense novel for science buffs in a way.
And Stephenson's science is right on.
(From a physics grad).
The book spans generations, shifts in time that always have you looking forward to one or the other. Providing amusement at post-modern university crowds, fascination at scientific achievements during wartime, and horrific amazement at trials and brilliance of the characters in the book during WWII.
I think I'm due to read it again... and I rarely do so with books! Esp considering how lengthy this one is... but really enjoyable read!
5.0 out of 5 stars Big book, big ideas; lots of fun,
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)This is the kind of great novel that, without any pretensions of intellectualism (but an enormous display of intelligence), is both immense in scope, bold in vision, and lightheartedly cool and funny. No review could convey the range of issues, both mundane and enormous, that are covered in this book. More than that, no review could convince a reader how enjoyable and laugh out loud hilarious it is in more places than I can count. I really liked the fact that I could get lost in the novel for a while, put it down for a few weeks, then be absorbed again, and again and again. One complaint that some have put down here is that it sometimes gets bogged down in details. That is true; Stephenson has a tendency to digress. But most of the digressions are fascinating; they sometimes do allow you to lose track of the story, such that when the digression is over you no longer feel the irresistable urge to know what comes next, but I liked that about my experience of reading this novel. I found that it can't be read in one or two or three sittings. There's just too much there. I probably read it in thirty or fourty sittings over the course of about a month; when I'd had enough, I could set it down and do something else, and come back to something new and surprisingly intriguing the next day or week. Most novels that took that long would lose their grip on me. Some books that don't lose their grip on me have me staying up all night for a few days. Somehow with this book the digressions and the interruptions in the story as he moves between the points of view of four or five main characters from different time periods allowed me to walk away and come back comfortably. I will say that by the last few hundred pages I couldn't put it down, and kept going until it was over.
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Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Mass Market Paperback - Oct. 17 2002)
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