March 3, 2009

I guess it’s about 9/11 or something? I dunno.

So, the latest book in my “I suppose I best read these books so I get an A in my novel class” reading series was Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. He’s like… a cyberpunk guy, right? Well, this wasn’t a cyberpunk novel. This was the first of many little letdowns from me reading the novel.

The novel is decently written and constructed. The chapters are short, and often have completely cryptic titles that I didn’t always get. The main character, Cayce, is a pretty interesting girl in a lot of ways. I wanted so desperately to like her, because I could totally dig her way of looking at the world, and how she liked to wander about in cities, her obsession with a certain little slice of internet culture, and so on… I got her. But I could never really get her. Because the book has this air of complete removal from its own story. It feels like I’m watching the story happen on a TV in a store window. There’s just an extra level of removal, even past the whole “third person limited” narrative style. It frustrated me all the way through the book.

The other big problem with her character was the entire 9/11 thing. Now, I’m not going to say the event wasn’t important, and novels shouldn’t be written about it? But this wasn’t a novel about that. I have no idea what kind of 9/11 based message Gibson was trying to make, but it was extremely forced into the novel and I would have greatly preferred it not to be there. I sort of feel like maybe it was supposed to draw me to the character more, but it really just pushed me away. It just felt like a clear intrusion on the reality of the book, and I hated it.

The plot itself does kind of go all over the place. Everything ties up in the end, but at the same time, you don’t feel like anyone has particularly accomplished anything, even though the goal Cayce was chasing for the entire novel is achieved. It just feels too “happy ending” in a lot of ways, the main way being the whole “Oh, now you no longer have your lifelong phobia for no reason yay!” mention at the end. Really? Seriously? Why the hell would you do that?

Overall, I probably can’t recommend this book too much. It wasn’t nearly as painful as Water for Elephants was in parts, but it also wasn’t as engaging as other parts of that novel. It’s a much harder read, and I left the novel getting just as little out of it, as well as being annoyed about how he was trying to manipulate 9/11 for no apparent reason. I dunno. I guess Brer might have been right, and I should have just read Neuromancer. Heh.
But, you know. Class. Had to read this one.

“William Gibson. He’s like… a cyberpunk guy, right?”

You could say that, yeah. Heh.

Comment by Cris — March 3, 2009 @ 2:42 am

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