Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: Anathem

I do not even know where to begin with this book. Okay, I do. With an editor.

Holy shit. Long. So long. So overly and pointlessly long. Okay, maybe not. But LONG.

It started slow, first 200 pages or so, with me going: what is the plot. What is going on. I do not understand. Why is there just talking. So much talking. And 10 page descriptions of buildings and songs and just STUFF.

Then every 200 pages or so it goes batshit crazy. And keeps going that way every 200 pages in logarithmic fashion so the previous batshit crazy was nowhere near the level of batshit crazy you were at 600 pages on.

Somehow, we get from these monk like theoretical physicists in this world kind of like ours but not – to parallel universes where similar beings cross over through the parallel universes. But then there’s lots of miscommunication and almost war. Anyway. Also some weird stuff about people being able to change the past and call people from across a parallel universe. WHAT THE FUCK.

Some stuff only makes sense 200 pages after it gets mentioned the first time which makes for a really confusing read.

Did I like it? Yes. But I also resent it for being so fucking long. It also passes the test (quite easily really).

It needed an editor:

  • to make sure things were explained in a clearer order and not after you’d moved on
  • to cut down on all the stupid made up words for things that exist here – JUST USE THE SAME WORDS, OKAY?
  • to not have so many words in the first place

It was a well formed world, sure. But most of it I didn’t care about at all and was just…really irritating. You go from long descriptions of bloody plants to BATSHIT CRAZY with like a page of explanation. Some of those other pages could have been cut for a clearer explanation of what the fuck was going on.

Should you read it? Sure. If you are spending a lot of time on trains or with no internet. But geez. Prepared to be equal amounts irritated and also quite amazed at the audaciousness of scope.

I give it 3/5. It would have gotten more stars for each 100 page less I had to read. LONG.

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