I'm really tired and should probably be crawling into bed now instead of writing this post, but I just finished Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age and want to tell you that I think it was really damned good.
I haven't read much Sci Fi so don't know anything about the conventions and I suspect that's a good thing (for the same reason, I'm soon going to check out a murder mystery!). Pretty much everything that happened in the first 2/3 of The Diamond Age surprised me, and in a very pleasant way. I actually found myself delaying reading this book at times just so it would last longer - this never happens much to me anymore. I don't have the energy to tell you in even the vaguest way why this book rocks so you'll just have to go read it yourself.
My friend Andy, who lent me the much maligned The Road by Cormac McCarthy, lent me Stephenson's novel and I'd say any bad karma accrued and lingering after the former has been definitively erased by the latter - even though he was absolutely correct when he warned me that the conclusion of The Diamond Age sucks big time.
I've read a lot of sucky book conclusions in my day; sometimes they're spectacularly sucky, and sometimes they're lame-sucky in a way that makes you wonder if the author was either hammered or half-dead when they finished up the book. Unfortunately, The Diamond Age displays the latter kind of sucky mcsucky ending; and if the sucky ending weren't bad enough in itself, it reminds me much too much of the uber-sucky ending of the uber-sucky Margaret Atwood's uber-uber-sucky Handmaid's Tale. Bleh.
(In case you're wondering, I'm probably writing in this ridiculously facile way because I'm so bloody sleepy but I'm going to insist that, rather, Stephenson's book is channeling my inner teen-aged geek, who is very sorry indeed not to have read The Diamond Age back in the late 80s/early 90s when staying up all night (re)reading a good novel was the name of the game. Now I go to bed before 10:30 and can still barely get up in the morning. Le sigh.)