Anathem by Neal Stephenson

September 2012

There are few things I love more than settling down with a massive, massive book, comfortable in the knowledge that it’s going to be the type of all-encompassing read that will engross me and transport me for weeks to come. This was the feeling I had when I cracked open Anathem, Neal Stephenson’s long-awaited new novel.

It starts out like The Name of the Rose, segues into A Canticle for Leibowitz, and then goes—well, I won’t give away where it goes. Suffice it to say you never have any idea where the book is going to take you, and just when you’ve gotten comfortable in one environment, you’re hurled into another. Of the many things I liked about the book (the vivid setting, the sympathetic characters, the lively plotting), Stephenson’s creative and consistent use of language is one of the most impressive; he invents words just alien enough to create a mood but just close enough to actual words to be plausible and understandable (on a side note, I’d be interested to see how translators render his linguistic creations—I’ll have to search out the German version of the book).

Further reading…