DNF Review: Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

sevenevesTitle: Seveneves

Author: Neil Stephenson

Series: N/A (Standalone)

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: DNF

The Overview: An exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years. What would happen if the world were ending? A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.  

The DNF Review:

This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name)  kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. So let the Q&A begin!

This was a book club book that I pushed for because it sounded so dag-gun interesting. And interesting it was, but that’s as far as I go on it… Here are some reasons why Seveneves just missed the mark with me.

Did you really give Seveneves a chance?

Considering it’s an 800+ page book, I think making it 60% through qualifies as a fair chance. I invested a lot of time and energy into it.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre?

Many. I can’t seem to get enough science fiction lately, although I admit I lean more towards space operas like Leviathan Wakes & Red Rising (although the hard-core science fiction stuff doesn’t scare me as long as it has good plot and character connection). Here are some of my favorites:

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

Yes – colossal ones; and I blame the synopsis. It gives the impression (to me at least) that the focus of the book centers around the 7 distinct races who evolved from the survivors of earth. Well, I was 50% through the book and EARTH HADN’T EVEN BEEN DESTROYED YET! Meaning the main thing that drew me to the book really wasn’t even its focus. I read another 100 pages or so and finally decided I was tired of waiting for a payoff that seemed like it was never coming. Between the pacing issue and the false advertising, I’d had enough.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

I kind of touched on that already, but I’d still like to elaborate: 2 things – the waaaaaay too drawn out “beginning” (i.e. at least 60% of this 800+ page book), and the fact that one of my book club members did some research and found that most people basically enjoyed the book but DIDN’T LIKE THE ENDING! O_o. I thought “well, why am I working so hard to get to that portion of the story if most people found it a letdown?” Excellent question. I threw in the towel and picked up a Sanderson instead.

Is there anything you liked about Seveneves?

I found the characters interesting even though they always kept me at arms distance. I also love science & astronomy, and especially appreciate the research within the book… Although there were many places it could’ve been integrated more smoothly.

Would you read anything else by this author?

No… I’m too disappointed in too many things.

So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?

Not of my own initiative, but if someone professed a love for story elements I remembered from it, I might mention it.

by Niki Hawkes

2 comments on “DNF Review: Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

    • Yeah, I’m a little bummed about that. But that doesn’t mean you won’t like it – especially if you don’t start it with the same storyline expectations that I did. It’s amazing how biased I am based on initial impressions.


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