Catie's Reviews > Neuromancer

Neuromancer by William Gibson
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's review
Nov 17, 11

bookshelves: classics, read-in-2011, sci-fi, series, speculative-fiction, audio
Read from November 12 to 17, 2011

I am going to have to admit that I was utterly confused by the majority of this book. I mean,

“His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines.”

How’s that again? Eggs…of humming rainforest glass? No?

Normally I would read a sentence like that and just throw in the towel. But for all its trippy, surreal, dense prose, this book still manages to convey so much. Reading it feels a lot like listening to a classic opera: I may not speak Italian, but I can feel the emotion nonetheless. I may have been confused about precisely what was happening in each moment, but I could feel the mood of this novel so thoroughly: the disconnect, the loneliness, the craving, that “left-behind” feeling of a species becoming obsolete.

Case is a former cowboy, a thief operating in the matrix, “a consensual hallucination” that’s a representation of the world’s computer network. Burned and forever disconnected from the exhilarating high of the matrix, Case lives a numbed existence of drugs and petty crime. He’s flirting with his own death. But then, a mysterious new employer shows up and offers him a deal that he can’t refuse: his body and mind healed, his ability to jack in to the matrix restored, and all he has to do is pull off one job.

This book has an amazing cast of characters, including a Rastafarian pilot, a sociopath who acts out his perverted fantasies with holographs, a family of clones, the disembodied construct of a former cowboy, an AI on a mission that he doesn’t quite understand, a traumatized shell of a colonel, and a curvy BAMF with implanted mirrored lenses over her eyes and extending scalpel blades in her fingers. One guess as to who’s my favorite.

Molly. I ached for her. Her flippant recall of a traumatic past, filled with loss and near continuous damage to her body and mind, made me ache. She’s so incredibly disconnected from everyone, but she still seeks out that memory of intimacy, however brief it is. Now I really wish that I had read Johnny Mnemonic before this book, so that I could have a piece of her backstory from William Gibson and not from Keanu Reeves (Although I just realized that Gibson wrote the screenplay! Ahhhh!).

I love that this vision of the future is so bleak, but so optimistic at the same time. Gibson made me exult in the evolution of a new consciousness; he made me feel limitless and bodiless. But he also made me so thankful to be awake and alive and bound up in all this meat. I don’t think that I’ll forget this novel for a long time.

Perfect Musical Pairing

Massive Attack – Dissolved Girl

Many thanks to Jo for introducing me to Massive Attack! I can’t think of a better theme song for Molly.
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Reading Progress

11/13/2011 page 60
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Jo (new)

Jo I'll probably never read this book (because I'm a wimp and get confused easily) but I'm certainly intrigued.

Great review, Catie.

And your friends have amazing taste in music.


Catie Haha, thanks Jo. They really do.

message 3: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Geez, that quote you put there made my head ache. Your synopsis does sound a lot like The Matrix (part of it) and then a few sentences later you mention Keanu Reeves. Is that a coincidence?
Great review, btw.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Hah!

Reading it feels a lot like listening to a classic opera: I may not speak Italian, but I can feel the emotion nonetheless.

I loved this part. Brilliant!

message 5: by Catie (last edited Nov 17, 2011 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Catie There are definitely elements of this book that remind me of The Matrix - probably because Gibson is one of the founding fathers of cyperpunk and this novel has influenced practically everything in that genre that came after it.

I mention Keanu, because he was the star of the film version of Johnny Mnemonic. I've seen the movie, but never read the story. So, when Molly was telling her backstory (with Johnny) that's all I could picture!

Thanks Lisa!

Catie Thanks so much Maja!

Rachel Hartman William Gibson lives in my neighbourhood, supposedly, but I've never actually run into him. My friend Liz tells me it's because I'm up early and he's up late, but who knows.

Catie Whoa. I'm a morning person too, but I might stay up late to stalk William Gibson.

Rachel Hartman Catie wrote: "Whoa. I'm a morning person too, but I might stay up late to stalk William Gibson."

I know, right? Maybe I should. I also think I should read this again, as I was too young to really get it the first time, I suspect.

Catie I'd probably be all incoherent if I ever ran into him though. I'd be all, " ah...described the internet before it even existed. What's THAT like?"

Haha, you and Gibson should be very thankful that I don't live nearby. I'd probably be knocking on your door every day to bug you for Seraphina #2 :)

message 11: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana You review made want not to read and read this book simultaneously. What to do?

Rachel Hartman Tatiana wrote: "You review made want not to read and read this book simultaneously. What to do?"

Read it with one eye shut?

Catie The audio is pretty good :-\

Or you could try Rachel's idea. I'd get an eye-patch so you don't have to squint the whole time.

message 14: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana OK, I will listen to the audio with one ear or read it with an eye patch on then:)

message 15: by Jo (new)

Jo Tatiana wrote: "OK, I will listen to the audio with one ear or read it with an eye patch on then:)"

Best mental image ever.

Brian Don't know you but was reading random reviews and felt that you captured an idea that I was strugling to put into words, thanks!

Catie Oh, thanks Brian. I love it when I read a review like that and I'm so happy that I could do the same for someone else.

s.penkevich Perfect song paring! great review.

Catie Thanks! I have friends with great taste in music. :)

LionCubTeaParty I thought it was just my lack of competence for not realizing exactly what was going on. But after reading your comment, I believe you are right: the mood and setting it conveys is slowly weaved by his meandering prose. In a way, it's actually kind of fun to read something that isn't just trying to explicitly tell you, "X did Y because Z."

You have gifted me cognizance. Thank you eternally!

Catie Ha! You're welcome!

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