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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cyberpunk and WWII war story smashed into one
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...
Published on April 4 2003 by OaktonMom

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars 900 pages but still not enough space for an ending
I wanted to like this book. I enjoyed Stephenson's earlier books and was looking forward to this one. Sadly the book's virtues did not outweigh its lame ending so that I can only give it a mediocre 3 rating.
Like his previous books, Stephenson creates a fascinating web of storyline and characters. I loved Bobby Shaftoe. I could totally relate to Randy. The characters...
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by Keith Vaitkus


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Stephenson - just bigger, May 25 2004
By 
Neal Stephenson tends to write for smart people, ergo, smart people tend to like his work. He writes in their language, the stuff of computers and math and physics and hackers and conspiracies and all that madness. My friends all like Neal Stephenson, because he writes about the things that they like and does it in a reasonably entertaining way. Me, I just can't get into it to any great degree. See, I've always found Stephenson to be somewhat overrated, with all the written praise about him treating him like he's the Second Coming of Something. Now I don't think this is his fault, he's only guilty of writing books that people seem to like . . . but I think the hype around him blows him way out of proportion. Critics salivate over his novels like nobody writes big books anymore and the publisher acts like he's a genius of singular talent (which, to be fair, is their job to do) . . . but I just don't get it. Cryptonomicon is the latest example of my lukewarm reaction to his work. It reads well, it's entertaining, but at the end of the day it just doesn't move me the way great literature should. In some respects, it seems like Stephenson is trying to parallel the career of semi-obscure author Thomas Pynchon, his earliest successful novel Snow Crash was repeated compared to Vineland and I've seen more than one review saying that this is his answer to Gravity's Rainbow. But other than the fact that both books are somewhat erudite, set in WWII and written in the present tense, there really is no comparison. Stephenson's novel has a relatively small cast of characters and focuses mostly on cryptology, while Pynchon's novel had a extremely large cast, tossed in everything from mathematics to pop culture and managed to maintain a palpable sense of paranoia that leaked even into the narration itself. So comparing the two is unfair and to Stephenson's credit, I don't think he himself has tried to link the two. So we should look at his novel on its own merits. How does it stand up? The biggest credit here is that he manages to write a nine hundred page novel that moves at a fairly even clip, there's no boring parts to make you want to put it down, the chapters are mostly short, the POV switches often and he does everything he can to keep you engaged. The plot shifts between the present day and WWII, in the former, computer guy Randy Waterhouse is trying to get the funding and backing to create an offshore data center, independent from all governments, while in WWII his grandfather joins a super-secret intelligence department designed not only to break Axis codes but to convince the Axis that the codes haven't been broken (the most clever part of the novel, in my opinion). In both eras the Waterhouses are joined by the Shaftoes, who run around like lunatics trying to help various goals get accomplished. In the end there's stuff about hidden gold and lots of information about cryptology and the math behind it, which is more or less interesting. The problem is, with me at least, is that Stephenson continues to be more style than substance. His prose is breezy enough, though the present tense style strikes me as somewhat pretentious and the tone for some reason comes across as rather smug, as if he knows he's being hip and modern and wants to make sure you realize it too. Occassionally he comes out with a bizarre and memorable metaphor and some passages attain some resonance (though over nine hundred pages it had to happen, even if by accident), but the prose just exists to move the story along. Even worse is when he stops the narration entirely to delve into math equations . . . it's clear that he thinks he's being deep and clever, but it really just comes across as annoying. The plot is interesting enough, though certainly not gripping and I'm not sure why it took nine hundred pages . . . it's actually fairly straightforward, certainly not the difficult, knotted novel it's proported to be. It meanders a heck of a lot though, and although the diversions are entertaining, they don't really lead anywhere. The characters are typical Stephenson constructs, for once not completely oh so painfully hip as in the past, Randy is actually interesting in spurts and the male Shaftoes are fun in a uninhibited fashion, but Amy Shaftoe really doesn't do much except act tough and act as the object of Randy's lust (there's no real strong female characters in the novel, which may or may not bother you), but for the most part the characters just serve to move the plot along. So in the end what you have is a reasonably entertaining page turner, certainly nowhere near the bonafide literary classic that someone (either the author or the publisher) is hoping for, but it has its moments and to be honest it's the best Stephenson book I've read so far. And hey, it's well researched at least. Fans will have already read this, everyone else expect a fairly good time but don't expect to have your mind blown.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did anyone finish this book?, Feb. 11 2001
By 
David Kerr (Calgary AB Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
Oh my god... this book is SO boring! I love Stephenson's writing style, and his witty observations on the world. But I don't read stories for that. I read them for an interesting plot and characters. This book has characters, but no plot. Can anyone even say what the point is, apart from a few drab men wandering about breaking codes in WWII while in the future another sets up a company laying pipelines? Is that fun reading? Whoever finds that enjoyable really needs to get out more, I think. Either that or I'm just not wild and crazy enough for a book like this.
I read 500 pages in hopes that a plot would develop and I would be rewarded at the end. Alas, I couldn't make it through and began reading a much better book (A Game of Thrones). Computer geek or not, you need a lot of free time and patience to finish this sleeper. If you don't have it, please don't bother with this one.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars And I bought it in hardcover!.., Jan. 16 2002
By 
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
If I wanted to know about the consistency of some nerd's soggy Captain Crunch cereal, I could observe it any day almost anywhere at breakfast. The idiosyncracies and hangups of computer professionals do not interest me. That counts out half of this heafty book's plot. The rest is quite interesting: cryptography and warfare in WWII as experienced through 2 characters that have lives instead of funky technology. Is Stephenson telling us that modern man is a boring git? In this case, keep it short and sweet, baby. No rambling. And more girly action, PLEASE. Not all computer geeks wait a year to get layed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is bad! (Sorry, Neil), July 9 2001
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
First, I must be honest. I only managed to complete 732 pages of the 900+ in this book. (I swear, each night more pages seemed to be added.) I am an avid reader, probably my biggest vice. I even made it all the way through "The Bell Curve." However, this is the first book that I have ever stopped reading because it was so badly written, so badly constructed, and had such weak character definition. I kept checking my wine glass for traces of a mind-altering drug, the book was so bad. Please, please don't buy this thing. It stunk, to use the vernacular.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A textbook, not a novel, April 17 2002
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
I read a couple hundred pages of this 1000+ sleeper before putting it down. Why bother wasting more time? The characters are so weak I just didn't give a damn, and I wasn't interested in a crypto primer.
It's like the author wanted to show off how clever his math demonstrations were, then used a WW2 setting to trick you into reading, thinking this was all actually going somewhere.
I'll pass, thanks.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 900 Bloated pages, April 10 2001
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Hardcover)
The story is good but this guy Stephenson makes two or three sentences out of every one. The book is at best a 400 page novel. If he would get to point and stop sputtering bull!@#$ it would be much better. I am by the way an electrical engineer working in software and find it highly unlikely that any disciplined mind could put up with so much fluff instead of the story. Stephenson is highly overrated
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of pain but no gain, Feb. 4 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
The only thing I can find to praise about this book is consistency. It's about as engrossing after page 10 as it is after page 890. (& I kept thinking it had to get better!) This is shear pointless verbosity without a single human-like character or sympathetic plot element. Stephenson can just about make the reader not care about the outcome of WWII.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Math textbook or fictional novel?, May 4 2004
By A Customer
I did not think this book was poorly written, but I did think the story was dry as day-old toast. Unless you're extremely interested in math, and you don't mind Neal Stephenson sounding a bit like he's trying to impress us all with just how much high-level math he understands, then read this book, otherwise I wouldn't bother.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Arrived late and all out of shape, Aug. 6 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Book arrived later than expected. That might have not been the shipper's fault, but they didn't bother responding to my email when I was trying to find out where the book was a week after it's due date for arrival. The book also came all out of shape because of the way it was packaged.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cryptonomicon or a lesson in tedium, July 28 2003
By A Customer
I found this book to be tedious in the extreme.It is way too wordy and is very disjointed.I am an avid reader but the only thing I could look forward to with this book was finishing it so I could finally put the darn thing away!
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Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Hardcover - May 1 1999)
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