Good gravy, I'm finally done this massive book:
Kel, I love ya dearly, man, and thank you for this birthday gift, but this was a monster! I'm selling it.
Book: The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton.
Stats: 1,094 pages of mind-numbing hard science fiction. Started January 25th, finished March 6th. Total reading time: just over 23 hours.
Blurb: If you like big, sprawling multi-character science fiction epics, you might like this. For my taste, this giant book (the first in a trilogy that I will not be reading) could have been trimmed down by about 200+ pages. I have nothing against multiple character storylines, but there are large sections of this devoted to people who get killed off...or you don't see them again for several hundred pages (and by then have forgotten who they were). The story could have been tightened up substantially without losing the overall feel.
I love science fiction, and there were a lot of really interesting things about this: Matrix-type neural implants to learn skills, space battles, religious issues, sex (yay!), and some good characters - and a really fascinating plot. However, it took about half the book to figure out what the heck was going on and who the major characters were.
Minor quibbles: An epic of this size requires an index of characters, places and terms. I hate having to figure out who someone is based on a mention on page 125, who I don't hear about again for 600 pages. I also dislike acronyms like "ZZT" or terms like "bitek" that are explained once and then never again.
Major quibbles: Whoever edited this edition did a piss-poor job. For example, spaceship names are uniformly italicized throughout...sort of. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they're not. And sometimes the names are split up and half is italicized, like Lady Mac Beth (should be Lady MacBeth).
Also, words at the ends of lines are broken oddly, like "rear-" "ranged", which took me a few minutes to realize was "rearranged". This sort of thing happened every couple of pages, which at first was annoying and then became aggravating, which rapidly escalated to infuriating. Everytime I saw one of these errors, it pulled me out of the narrative. I'm sure I drove L nuts by exclaiming, "ARG!" every time I saw one.
I'd give this book a 2/5. As I said, I won't be reading the other books in the trilogy. I'll be reading their plot summaries on Wikipedia to find out how it all ends.
Next book: "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, a Book Club book as selected by Caroline.