05 November, 2019

[Review] Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: 30 July, 2001
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Genre: Science Fiction/High Tech Fiction/Contemporary Science Fiction
Edition: Audiobook (also available in Kindle, Hardback, and Paperback)
Rating: ★★★
Review Written: 5 October, 2019
Warnings: Death, Gore, Sexual content
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. 

See more by Neil Stephenson at his Website.
Snow Crash was the first published work of Neal Stephenson. Published in 1992, this novel has not aged well in my opinion. This book was read for the Charlotte Sci-Fi Book Club.

Snow Crash primarily focuses around Hiro Protagonist, a computer hacker who does a fair amount of freelance work for the Library (formerly the Library of Congress and the CIA) to be paid. While his home life isn't glamorous, he lives in a converted shipping container, Hiro's real talent lays in the Metaverse. The Metaverse, Stephenson's version of the internet, typically requires a headset of some kind and a computer to access. Much like the functioning Internet of our society, businesses, celebrities, and others make their home in this larger than life area run by a single entity. The Metaverse served as a model for the virtual reality website/game Second Life.

My problems with this novel lies in both the large amounts of rambling, the questionable morals, and the fact that the story seemed to just jump from character to character without any sort of rhyme or reason. Some chapters would focus on Hiro (the main protagonist), while some would skip to YT (short for Yours Truly, the nickname of a 15 year old delivery girl), and a few focused on other characters that were the opposition to Hiro and YT. Throughout the book, Stephenson often has spots that start to ramble on and on with information dumps. While not inherently a bad thing, information dumps can be one of the worst enemies to writing. Though he did the dumps in a fun way (thanks for introducing the Librarian avatar in the Metaverse), it still got tedious sometimes and I lost the plot at times for the large amount of information being portrayed.

Finally, the questionable morals were something I got caught up. May of the characters in the novel are in their late 20s to mid-30s. Of course some of the characters are older, and a few are younger. The youngest (named) character in the book is YT who is 15 during this time. With an economy worse than that of Post World War One Germany, Stephenson's look into the Post-collapse United States world is an interesting experience. In one scene, YT offers a pair of cops a quarter of a million without batting an eye, all in exchange for being dropped off at a nicer jail. Unfortunately it doesn't work out for her in that regard. Perhaps the most questionable thing of the entire book is when YT ends up having sex with Raven, the henchman for the big-baddie, who is easily twice her age. Though the rules of law and order don't follow our own, this part of the book was just a bit disturbing for me. Younger readers are not advised.

Overall, while I enjoyed the whimsical feeling of a book with a protagonist literally named Hiro Protagonist, I just couldn't enjoy the information dumps and the questionable sex. I doubt I'll pick up another book by Stephenson unless it's part of the book club again.

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