Book Review

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal StephensonSeveneves by Neal Stephenson

Genre: Science Fiction

Published on May 19, 2015
Published by HarperCollins, William Morrow
Format: eBook, 880 pages
Source: Edelweiss

My rating:

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First sentence: The Moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

Its been a while since a book left me with so many mixed feelings as Seveneves did.

What Did I Like?

  • Builds on existing technology. Science fiction novels that use the current state of our world as a starting point (or existing science concepts) and then build on it are my favorite kind. For example, think of anything by Arthur C. Clarke. In Seveneves, everything scientists and engineers do, sounds realizable.
  • Made me care. As a speculative fiction fan, I read a lot of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books. In most of them, the big part of the human race dies or has died. But Neal Stephenson really made me care and cheer for the survival of Earth.
  • Nerdgasm galore. Neal Stephenson used a lot of interesting science facts as plot elements. I loved all the talk about the development of artificial intelligence in robots, genetic engineering and what happens when you do ordinary tasks in space.
  • Russians. Serbs and Russians have a shared ancestry and I noticed similarities in mentality and the general way of thinking that always make me smile. While Americans care about safety and take all necessary precautions, Russian technology is straightforward and a bit crazy in its simplicity.

The qualifications for being a Scout seemed to be a shocking level of physical endurance, a complete disregard for mortal danger, and some knowledge of how to exist in a space suit. All of them were Russian.

Mixed Feelings…

  • Gut-wrenchingly sad. Remember that part that Neal Stephenson made me care? Well, there is a downside. There are a lot of times when sacrifices had to be made or accidents happened. As a result, a lot of people and even some of the main characters die. While I was reading Seveneves, I had a big knot in my throat. It was all so tragic… I can not say this is bad, but I do not like books that make me sad.
  • Annoying characters which I wanted to kill with my bare hands. Arhg! I hated them so much. They exploit and manipulate others for their own interest. And the worst part, since their highest concern is saving their own ass, is that they usually survive. While good, noble characters die because they make willing sacrifices for the benefit of the human race.

What I Didn’t Like?

  • Bored by some scientific information. I liked some of the geeky stuff and Neal Stephenson’s attention to detail, but sometimes he just didn’t know when to stop and went into too much detail. It might be my fault since some topics were not as interesting to me as others. For example: when the explanations about the propulsion, directions and amount needed to move a vehicle in space would start, I would just space out and skim until he changed the topics.
  • Big paragraphs, sometimes spanning a couple of pages. I felt smothered with so many descriptions, all thrown at me without any break.
  • Meh ending. After apocalypse and 5000 years I didn’t get the impression that human race improved at all. They still make the same mistakes. Why the hell did I read 880 pages for? Give me some hope!

My Rating:

Seveneves is a book that leaves me with a lot of thoughts and topics for discussion. I wish I read it in some book club, so we could chat about interesting geeky details, favorite emotional moments and rant about the characters we hate.

When it comes to recommending Seveneves, I am not sure what to say. I think big space geeks will enjoy so many details about living in space, space mechanics and other data. If you have that one friend who spams you with movies like Tears in Space (Don’t Fall) recommend Seveneves to him.

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