Bryan Glosemeyer's Reviews > Zodiac

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Sep 09, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: mystery, fiction
Read from March 10 to 27, 2012

Well, I'm an unabashed Neal Stephenson fan, there's no getting around that. And for anyone else who's a big fan I'd definitely recommend the book, if nothing else to see the basics of his style in a still very formative period.

The is the earliest book of his that I've read. And since the last book I read by him was his most recent REAMDE, it was even more of an obvious chance to observe how his style has developed.

but yada yada yada.... right?

So ok, let's get past the fandom for a moment.

This is a pretty fun book. It's a unique twist on the hard boiled detective novel. But instead of solving murders or missing persons, the hero, S.T., solves and exposes environmental crimes. And instead of driving around a bad ass Ford Charger or something, he cruises through Boston Harbor on a suped up Zodiac inflatable, taking toxin samples while he's high and/or drunk as hell.

The story is fast paced, though a bit meandering at first. Plenty of action and good guys using a little smarts and a lotta guts to beat the bad guys. S.T. is a great narrator/protagonist, though not always believable. Particularly when and where he suddenly chooses to drop acid or shrooms. The minor characters are abundant, but usually pretty thin and underdeveloped. Especially in the shadow of S.T.'s dominating personality.

As with any Stephenson novel, at its core are some pretty cool and interesting scientifically-based ideas. And you can see the beginnings of many of the themes he goes on explore in greater depth in his later works: globalization and its personal effects, smart and brave people saving the world, nautical travel, old rivalries, smart men who are dumb about women, etc.

So if you are looking for a quick, fun, and intelligent read by an a now established author, written when he was still finding his voice, you'll dig this.
If your looking a mind-bending epic like his Anathem or Snow Crash, this ain't it.
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