Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Diamond Age

THE DIAMOND AGE: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk
Original Publication Date: 1995


Read: 04 – 15 May 2016

Summary: The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer follows the story of young Nell as she grows from child to woman, raised almost entirely by a book. With nanotechnology and Victorian values seamlessly intertwined in this future version of Shanghai (and others), Neal Stephenson weaves the stories of Nell, her Primer, and the people who had a hand in creating the Primer experience for her as the subclasses in the Diamond Age, and young Nell herself, go through a tumultuous change.

Review: While talking about my frustrations with science fiction and its lack of diverse female characters, my friend Laura recommended The Diamond Age to me. At first, I had trouble getting into the writing style, but once I got used to the swing of the book, I was absolutely hooked. The story of Nell, and everyone involved in her coming-of-age, was riveting and creative. I was especially impressed with the way the technological advancements were woven into the narrative. Stephenson didn’t feel the need to spoon feed readers information on what happened between the current century and the Diamond Age, the history of the world came up naturally as people in the book discussed their reasoning for doing things.
The advancement I was most hooked on was the ractives, which were essentially active-participant movies and shows where ractors were paid to play parts in your ractive. Some were even community-based ones, like murder mystery dinner theatre, but digitally.

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of futures that are neither utopias nor dystopias, but rather a vague combination of the two, and young girls deciding their fates (without romantic sub-plots!!), I highly recommend The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer

More Info

Publisher: Random House
Edition Publication Date: 2003
Edition ISBN: Kindle Edition

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