The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

Rate: 2/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

Have you ever started reading a book and found yourself getting so very excited at the seemingly endless possibilities and adventures the author could take the story only to be underwhelmed to an extreme degree by the final product? I’ve sat on this review for a week because I couldn’t decide how I felt about this read, especially as Stephenson and Galland made a valiant effort to rally in the end.  That being said, I couldn’t forgive the bureaucratic tangle that The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. became caught up in, especially considering how promising the initial premise and concepts were for the first third of this book.  Not only did the story drag for a good half of this book due to more the exorbitant amount of time being spent on detailing governmental red tape instead of the actual excursions into the past, but the characters were relatively one dimensional. Each one had their own spark of intrigue, however they fell flat before they could be cultivated into anything special for the reader to grab hold of. As a scientist, I was initially geekily fascinated that the authors were attempting to merge science and magic as I struggle to recall another novel based on this ambitious premise. Alas, instead of diving into the history and magical aspect, the plot took likely the more realistic role highlighting day to day operations and managing.  Overall, The Rise and Fall of the D.O.D.O definitely missed especially considering its potential as Stephenson and Galland allowed the plot to become bogged down in petty bickering and paperwork.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Tristan Lyons never actually developed in depth as you’d expect from a main character. Interestingly, the authors never gave him his own POV. Instead, his one on one time with the reader we learn about his actions from a third person who was interacting with him.
  • How did no one interview Erszebet when they met her to get her backstory? Everyone was so rude and took her for granted throughout.  She was the character I really wanted to know more about, with the little we knew being heartbreaking.
  • I want to know what ideas for going back in time ended up being scrapped by the authors before they settled on the final locations. The possibilities are endless!
  • What damage did Grainne do with her meddling?
  • What happened to Blevin’s secretary that was fired?
  • What is the point of the Fuggers? Why buy the book and shred it? Why not actively try to stop the D.O.D.O.? Did Grainne really influence them to win their support? This issue was never really flushed out.
  • Can Erszebet actually grow old now? When will she get to go to Hungary?
  • What would have happened if Tristan when back to the Ice Age?
  • This book was left so open ended there has to be a sequel in the works.



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