The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
(Opening line of Neuromancer by William Gibson)
This book took me a very long time to read. Ugh.
I didn’t like the book as much as it probably deserves. The praise of this books seems endless and people keep repeating on how he predicted the future. Maybe I’m being ignorant here, but I can’t see that. But we don’t judge a book by its hype, right?
Our main character is Case, who used to be a cyper-cowboy. He used to hack computer systems by jacking in to the virtual reality called “Matrix”. But then he blew it with somebody and due to an intoxication his nervous system doesn’t allow him to enter cyber space any more. He came to Chiba, where he hopes his nervous system can be restored in the famous clinics, but he can’t afford this. He is almost done with his life, when he meats Molly, a razorgirl who works for a mysterious man called Armitage. He offers Case to pay for the repair of his nervous system, if he works for him.
Thats where the story takes off. I thought the idea and the setting of Neuromancer great. The story was mostly intense and suspenseful. The idea of surgery not only being able to fix a damaged nervous system but to insert reflex controlled blades into your hand sounds very interesting. Also his design of the cyber space, of AIs and of what a modern city looks and feels like, where awesome.
Case annoyed me, most of the time. He basically is a drug addict, who tries to kill himself slowly. He is egoistic and not very deep and sometimes just plain dumb. Apart from me not liking the character itself, Case as a character was well presented and consistent.
The characters in this book all seemed to be clinical and not caring for much beside their own life. Sometimes not even that. Also drug addictions seem to be a huge problem in this world. Every character seemed to have a very serious psychological problem. As the characters came across as clinical and unfeeling, I didn’t really care for any character in this book. I could not relate to a single character, which made it feel as if I read a scientific paper (for how much I felt reading it).
Here is the problem. This mixture of made up terminology, names of places or characters, AIs, companys, hotels and a very surrealistic, abstract writing style made it really, really hard for me to follow the story and understand what was going on. It was in fact so hard for me to read, that I put it down for almost three months, before I forced myself to continue reading it. The wording Gibson uses is often just beautiful, as one can see by the opening line, and the dialogs were great too. The writing style contributed to the overall cold and clinical feeling of the book, which is awesome in a way, but also kept me from being emotionally involved in the story.
Altough I like how the atmosphere in this book was created and the idea of the story, I didn’t really feel much reading it. It didn’t affect me in any way and I finished the book just feeling nothing but happiness that is was over. That’s not such a good sign for a book. I considered giving it just two stars (I use the Goodreads rating system, so two stars mean “It was okay”), because that’s how I felt. It was just okay. But, I really liked his take on the artifical intellegence problem and the idea of the book in general. The writing style was confusing to me, but some quotes are just beautiful. So giving the book just two stars seemed too harsh.
3/5 stars. It was interesting, but I was not really emontionally invested.