As much as I really wanted to love this book, alas, it just was not to be. To begin with I did enjoy it; that’s why I gave it three stars. I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t love it.
I was warned back when people first started listening to it that this was not the right book to be my first Neal Stephenson book. Anathem or Snow Crash were suggested for that role. I bought all three but had not had time to start listening to them until the first of September. A Goodreads group I am in picked this volume to be one of their group reads of the month. So I decided to go ahead and listen to it so I could join in the discussion. That was not a good move.
My problem is really with the first part of the book narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal. Her performance is wonderful, and I don’t really understand why it was necessary to have two narrators for the book; one for part one and one for part two which begins 5000 years later. She could have done both parts just fine. No! My problem is with all the info dumping in part one. There is so much of it that the story gets lost among all the techno mumbo jumbo. It totally pulled me out of the story line and made it difficult for me to follow along. Had I been reading a tree book I would have simply skimmed over those parts to get past them. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done with an audiobook.
When we get to part two narrated by Will Damron the story seems to move along much more quickly, although I may have to go back and relisten to the last two chapters. I am afraid I missed some of it getting distracted by other things I needed to get done before bed time. Still, I very much enjoyed part two of the book which is why I bumped up the story to a 3 star rating from a 2 star rating. Will Damron was also an excellent choice for a narrator and could just as easily have narrated the entire book. If I give Mary Robinette Kowal 5 stars then Will Damron is very easily a 4.8 star narrator.
This will not be my last Neal Stephenson book. I have three others including Anathem, Reamde and Snow Crash. Like everyone else who warned me I now warn the reader. If this is your first Neal Stephenson book you might want to start with one of the others and then get this one.