Five (spoiler-free) Sentences concerning Anathem

If you are a diehard Stephenson fan, an astronomer, a physicist concerned with quantam mechanics, a philosopher interested in phase space, or some combination of the above, you will love this book.  If what irks you about Stephenson novels is the way that every fourth chapter ends up being a talking-head diversion into the minutiae of science, history, or culture, then at all costs stay away — it makes The Baroque Cycle or Cryptonomicon look like beach reading by comparison.

But, if you read some of excerpts that are floating around out there and found the wall of bizarre terminology a bit off-putting and maybe even gimmicky (as I did when I first read it), have no fear on that account.  It takes a bit of careful reading and attention to detail at the beginning — nothing too terrible, think Gene Wolfe lite — but once you get into the swing of things after the first hundred pages or so, all the new vocabulary comes quite naturally and it really does succeed in immersing you into what is truly a remarkable bit of world-building.

Prepare to be mildly disappointed in the emotional depth of the characters, however likeable they may be, but also be prepared to have your head explode so many times in the last two hundred pages that you just don’t care.