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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

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In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.

Snow Crash is my first book by Neal Stephenson and I absolutely loved the opening. Unfortunately, I also felt like the book was never as much fun to read after that first chapter.  It is a different experience with this book. I found much to love, but also much to dislike and that left me feeling less and less engaged as I read. I did like both Hiro and Y. T, our protaginists. However, the parts I didn’t like started to drag me out of the story and therefor care less about what happened to the characters and reading on.

One aspect of the book that didn’t quite work for me is that there is a lot of separation/delineation of the different races/sects of society in this book, and with that, stereotyping/generalizations. I think the book was trying to use this as a tool to make points against such things. I think. But honestly, I wish it was done a bit less. I got tired of reading what I consider to be a very narrow focused view of different segments of the society. Pretty much, the stereotypes and generalizations started to wear on me.

Also, the over explanation of things in this book got on my nerves just a bit. For example, explaining binary code and other things that are just common knowledge, at least to me. I do realize I have a different background than others, so maybe some readers need this. But as for me? It makes me yawn. Some of it is just the style of the book, breaking everything down to their basic meanings. This was done for both fictional and non-fictional elements of the book.

snowcrash-crop2I did find some of the questions the book posed interesting. For example, what is the difference between a virus, a drug or religion? It made me think about it and realize they often spread through populations, altering it or being consumed by it in one way or another. There are some benefits to certain drugs and religions and yes, even viruses, often it leaves a population better off than before. But there are obviously also drugs, religions and viruses that can cause harm as well. At least in the case of drugs and religions, they can potentially make a person more single minded. I actually quite enjoyed the comparison and the fact the book triggered me to think a bit about it. The commentary of similarities of these three things in my review is my own. Maybe other readers will agree or disagree with me. What I like is that the book prompted me to think about it. I also like that much of this book relies on humans just being biological computers. It allows for some interesting theories and risks.

Unfortunately, as much as I love those aspects of the book, there are still the areas of exposition. I like some details and there are some very interesting things being said/done at times in this book. I found it frustrating to be so in to parts of it and then have to wade through the descriptions and theories that just simply got to be too long. An example is the toilet paper. There was a good 30 minutes spent reading about toilet paper usage and distribution. Seriously? And while I complain about the toilet paper, I actually found that more interesting than most of what a character called the Librarian had to say.

In the end, I was just glad to be done because the more I read the less I liked it. Not that I hated it. I really think there were some interesting concepts within this, and some amusing scenes here and there. But I just found myself caring less and less. I would recommend reading the first chapter to anyone. It was fun, exciting and quite frankly, just very cool. But beyond that I am going to remain neutral.

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