52 Books a Year: #38 - Snow Crash

Posted by Brian Sat, 19 Dec 2009 19:29:50 GMT

Snow Crash By Neal Stephenson

5/5

Snow Crash was Neal Stephenson’s breakthrough work and is a must read for any self-respecting computer geek. I won’t waste time rehashing details you can easily find elsewhere, so I will just focus on what I liked and didn’t like.

It takes serious balls to name your lead character Hiro Protagonist, but Stephenson pulls it off by never once dwelling on his name in a heavy-handed fashion. Hiro captures the psyche of a great number of programmers better than any other author I have ever read. Y.T. is a resourceful D.I.Y. punk in a world descending into anarchy. The story is wonderfully paced and most of the side characters have a point. Raven is a pretty well-developed villain and you even get to see his more human side with a clear explanation of his motivations. Initially presented as a caricature he ends up evolving into a character whose motivations you can identify with to at least some degree, despite their destructive consequences.

I can’t decide if I liked the ending or not. It ends very abruptly with some seemingly loose end, but I think you are supposed to piece together those loose ends from clues dropped throughout the book. The biggest example of this seems to be the fight between Uncle Enzo and Raven. Previous events lead the reader to only one logical result, but you are never explicitly told what happens. The only other problem I had is the heavy handed use of explanatory monologues to explain Sumerian mythology. It comes across as very unnatural, especially near the end of the book when Hiro is explaining everything to the other power-brokers.

Overall, this is a fantastic read. I am a sucker for cyberpunk and dystopian worlds and this one is excellent. If you are at all into the culture of computer programmers than this book is for you. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a lot more Neal Stephenson to read.

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