17 July 2008

Spook Country - more like Kinda Boring Land

Spook Country by William Gibson

So Neuromancer was the first Gibson I ever read and it's still his book I liked best. I didn't much like Idoru - I found the premise creepy and way too likely. But I loved Pattern Recognition.

Spook Country fell more along the lines of Idoru for me. It's probably partly my fault - I like an hour or two at the start of a book to really immerse myself in the story, and if I don't get that I have a harder time following the plot and caring about the characters. I'm also not that close a reader, and the immersion thing helps me pay better attention. I'm lazy, if you get me.

And Spook Country follows three main characters, all told from 3rd person, and each character is embroiled in a different set of mysterious events. It wasn't until page 188 that I finally I noticed I knew what was going on, and that's about half way through. It seemed like the real action finally started around then, too, which was a relief. Lot of setup.

Gibson writes a lot about virtual worlds intersecting with the real one, but there didn't seem to be much use of this concept made in Spook Country, plotwise. Maybe I am just critical because so much of my life is spent online myself and don't find the idea that the virtual can impact the real, thereby making the virtual a force to be reckoned with, that revolutionary. My paycheck comes from the internet marketing work I do, and I use that internet money to buy groceries with. So I might sorta be the wrong audience.

And the other themes of the novel are September 11th, terrorism, lots of money and renegades who work for the government and gleefully thwart the plans of the bad guys (also government agents, in this case.) So kind of standard ingredients for an airport thriller, which I was a little disappointed about.

Oh, and drugs. I think Gibson always has someone with a drug problem and there's an Ativan addict in this book, too. I had a little trouble with that idea, too, because if you're addicted to benzos, Ativan is going to be the mildest. I'd have expected that character to have moved up to Xanax and then Valium long ago. But I'm not at all an expert on addiction, it's just that I've got a slightly better than layman's understanding of psychopharmaceuticals.

I might give the book another chance and re-read it to see if I like it any better, but not right away. I'm going to read David Mitchell's Black Swan Green next; I've gotten raves from several diverse areas of my life. Plus it's about adolescence in a small English town and apparently has tons of great slang, so I'll be interested to see if I've got to resort to the glossary at the back, or if my knowledge of Britishisms will carry me through.

* update to this post from last week, where I talked a little about coming out of a meeting at work with a bunch more to do and working late to get it done. Today's meeting was the follow-up to that one and I did get most of what I needed to done, and I'm tentatively on track to get the rest done on deadline. I feel like I should get an Employee of the Month award, like,"go me!" for actually making a deadline for once. Next thing you know I'll be making it in by nine.


Lisa said...

I think you'll like Black Swan Green. Report back, eh?

Cara deBeer said...

I loved Black Swan Green and I'll probably write about it tomorrow, once I've had some time to digest it.