Diamond Age is a very futuristic story from Neal Stephenson. It is well into the future, deep within the age of nanotechnology. It is written around the story of the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, how it comes to be in the hands of three girls, and it's influence on one in particular.
The Primer was supposed to be a very unique book; created by an Artifex (nanotechnological engineer who is very good at his job), named John Hackworth, for a well-intentioned and rich Grandfather whom believes that the book will imbue his granddaughter with the personality of a very successful person. John, wishing such fortune with his own daughter, decides to create a second unbeknownst to the backer of the project. He steals into a different country and works out a deal with a man known as Dr. X to create a duplicate with his nano-building machines. After the completion of his work there, while leaving he is assaulted by a gang of ruffians, losing the book to one boy named Harv who ends up giving it to his sister, Nell.
This book is very special, bonding to its user in such a way that they tend to become inseperable. : Nell is no different and the book after teaching her to read, reads her a very long story, answering her many inquisitive questions along the way. John Hackworth attempts to find the book and after a few years is found out to have stolen this information and is trapped by Dr. X into a new project for ten years. Before he ends up leaving for this project though, he is able to create a third book and give it to his daughter. Also, many copies of the book in a "lesser" form are created to try to raise a quarter of a million Chinese girls that are without a family. The original 3 Primers end up drawing the three girls together as friends within a school and then pulling them apart as their upbringing, while made similar by the book, was started differently by their own lives.
There are a few stories within this one book, the Primer in Nell's hands being a main thread around which other stories are formed. There is a quest lead by the Dr. X to help pull the Celestial Kingdom back to greatness through building their own new technology through John's help. There is the search between Miranda and Nell to find each other and how this ties into the "drummers" which John is using to create the new technology for Dr. X. There is also the stories of the other two girls, Fiona and Elizabeth, who also received Primers.
Honestly, this book was very difficult to originally get into. I had no idea what the purpose of the book was even about until about 60 pages into it. Until this point, it all seems like gibberish tossed together. At around 150 pages, it really started pulling me back into it, such that I wanted to read it and finish it. The book is very interesting from a nanotechnology point of view and may serve as a starting point for discussions about the how technology can be used to reshape the world when it's not thoroughly considered. I also didn't really like the ending because it left so much open. I did enjoy reading most of the middle of the book though. Lynn loaned me this book after I finished with Snow Crash also borrowed from her.