Book Review: Neuromancer

I am finally getting around to posting reviews I read in more recent months!  I actually read this book while I was at the Roller Skating National Championships, so I finished it at the beginning of August.  It was a book my sister had been bugging me to read for months, so I decided it to bring it on the trip just to stop the nagging.  In the end I felt like reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer was time well spent, but I have to admit that the process of getting there was a bit of a brain-bender.

Neuromancer is a novel set in a futuristic Matrix-like world where humans can jack into the vast systems of computer networks to access hidden information.  This book follows the story of Case, once one of the best criminals in the system, who’s career was ended when a former employer destroyed his nervous system.  He is found by Molly, a warrior with enhanced capabilities, who puts him in contact with her employer, and restores his lost abilities with a very experimental surgical procedure.  The remainder of the story follows their adventures as they work to uncover the secrets hidden by the target of their operation: the Tessier-Ashpool business group.

I have to say that, while I enjoyed segments of this book, and while I appreciated the detailed and other-worldly descriptive passages, there were (a lot of) times when I was pondering exactly what was happening.  Sometimes I questioned if I was reading something that was absolute brilliance or total gibberish.  At times I even questioned if I was smart enough to understand what was really happening in this book.  But I continued on to the ending, and I must admit that in the end I was able to find some enjoyment in the book.  There are still sections that I don’t know if I fully understand, and some portions that would make my brain hurt to re-read, but I did think that the end result was worth it.

I don’t know if this story is for everyone – the techno-babble and and convoluted plot could be a turn-off for a lot of readers – but I do think fans of the science fiction genre will enjoy this book.  The descriptive passages allow the reader to imagine some rather unique and stunning visuals, but a lot of this writing is wedged between long segments describing the almost indecipherable descriptions of the world’s technology.  I did like this gritty, non-utopian view of the future, and I can appreciate that this writing style forces the reader to be fully immersed in this world.  On the other hand, I don’t know if the characters or plot are as complex or well-rounded as I would like them to be.  I can’t deny that this novel has an important place in the genre, but I don’t think I would consider this one of my favorite science fiction novels, though it was definitely a very interesting read.  I am glad I spent the time to read it myself, but unless you are a real science fiction buff I don’t know that I would recommend it to others.

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