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

The idea of combining time travel, witches, and quantum mechanics sounds amazing, and it was, but I will be frank right at the beginning, there are problems with the execution. The story itself is intriguing and is a collection of journey entries, letters, and official records, and it works, but what the book lack is character development and “action.” The plot arch is weak, which starts to bother after the strong beginning. I kept waiting for something significant to happen, but it never truly did. The story went on and on and on, and when the twist finally came, I didn’t care. Not about what happened to Melisande Stokes, a Harvard linguistic and the main character, and not about what happened to the organization D.O.D.O. Maybe that was because I found the characters one-sided and the organization’s motives kind of bland (whose only motive was to make money through time travel. That bugged me and a lot. There is so much potential a government can do with time travel and to concentrate on money schemes was frustrating at best.) But back to the characters. They felt strong at the start like to story did, but they didn’t live up to their full potential. That said, the book has its magic still. It is an amazing Idea, and I think it would work as a TV-show.

The annoying thing in the book was this weird contradiction with the government’s reaction to magic and how to deploy it. I get that the writers tried to bring up the fact that with governmental decision comes bureaucracy with its red tape and budgets, but somehow the way magic was shrugged off was odd. Yes, I agree that if magic was ever discovered, most likely it would be used as a weapon against enemies and people tried to make money with it, but I think they wasted the whole potential of magic and time travel in the book. In general, time travel isn’t an easy subject to pull off in a story. There is easy to cause contradictions and the plot to break, but that didn’t luckily happen in D.O.D.O. But the way the changes were noted in the book like a missing beer brand didn’t work for me. I didn’t care. That felt too insignificant.

But I have been complaining and a lot. D.O.D.O. has its good points as well. It is a coherent book, with well thought out world and structure. The characters are entertaining in their naivety. And like I said, the book is written around a compelling idea. I love if quantum mechanics would make magic possible. Who wouldn’t?

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