I read this and honestly don’t remember a thing about the characters, the plot, or the story in general. Granted, I’m writing the review over four years after finishing it, but I remember a lot of the books I read. And any good sci-fi I read at least twice. I do recall that I wasn’t blown away and was hesitant to pick up the final book in the series. This gets a big fat “meh” from me.
I was pretty stoked to read this because it came highly recommended from a friend, and it was a Neal Stephenson novel, author of Diamond Age, one of my all-time favorite stand-alone sci-fi books. Anathem was just not to my liking. I kept waiting for the story to pick up and leave the monastery, but by the time it did, the book was nearly done. I wanted more than the mundane drudgery of the monastic life in the alternate universe.
An interesting premise, with a world that is very well constructed sets the stage for a fascinating tale, but I still didn’t want to continue with the series. It’s a Swiss Family Robinson, but with a crash landing on a planet and with no rescue. What the author did an amazing job with was the slow deconstruction of society. When the crashed crew goes from four to two and then grows to 500, what aspects of the culture are preserved? What taboos are removed? And what new ones put in place? Strip away luxury, knowledge, and history and what make us human? It’s an interesting exploration, but I was glad to be done with it.
Formulaic plots, flimsy characters with zero growth, and dozen books in the series are all great reasons to pass on this entirely. There are interesting parts of the series and perhaps under a different author I would have enjoyed this as a space opera worth a couple of re-reads. But, it’s not. And I won’t waste another word on it.
Though the second book was not as good as the first, it wasn’t horrible and so I decided to pick up the third. Though there was no character growth from book one to book three, this one was interesting. But the warning signs of a bad series were there: same plot outline, no character growth. Rebellion was OK, and after reading it I took a break from the series hoping a little distance between this one and the next would reinvigorate my interest in it.