Book Review – Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
- Book: Seveneves
- Author: Neal Stephenson
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Year of Release: 2015
- Read 867-page hardcover edition in March 2016.
This science fiction / speculative fiction novel, told in two main parts, speaks of humanity’s attempts to survive an apocalyptic event, after the moon is destroyed and a rain of fragments are due to cover the earth in cataclysmic fashion shortly. It is up to humanity to determine how they will survive this intense event, and what follows is many thousands of years of action, adventure, and evolution of culture and society for those who come after this novel.
In reading this novel, similar to the fact the novel was split into two parts, I was of two minds when considering my reactions to the story.
On the one hand, I very much enjoyed the overall premise of the novel. Stephenson has taken years to develop this complex, intense story that spans 5000+ years of time. Stephenson does well when he is exploring the world he has created, and the way society has evolved over the course of history, after an apocalypse occurs on earth. Stephenson has also done a good job of creating complex characters who are not simply caricatures, but have shades of grey. Nobody is all bad, everyone is redeemable in some way. (Although there are some characters who are so flawless and perfect, for the most part Stephenson writes complex characters.)
Thus, Stephenson’s world building and character development (when he is focusing on characters) is top notch, original, and enjoyable.
On the other hand, the area where I was a little bit lost in the novel were the sections where Stephenson focused so much on the mechanics of how things were working, or on the reasons why issues were occurring in space, that he forgot to get back to the characters and story itself. Often we would be given many pages of information that was a character running through facts (engineering, science, or astronomy), and it was definitely a way to tell the reader why something was a concern or issue, but it became a little tedious after awhile, particularly for those who don’t mind a little bit of hard sci-fi, but don’t need it to this degree. Unlike The Martian, where the science was presented in more digestible bits, there were often pages of text where there were 1-2 paragraphs of text in this novel. That text, appearing as a block of science to the reader, became difficult to get through at times.
Thus, although this had a great story, and some complex ideas worth spending time over, the reason this novel was so long, and perhaps too long, was because of the amount of time spent on the details, that sometimes detracted from the story and characters.
Overall: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars