Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

Posted 30 March, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 13 Comments

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Title: Snow Crash
Author: Neal Stephenson
Date Finished: March 30, 2008
Yearly Count: 16
Pages: 468
Rating: 4.5/5

I was assigned this book a few years ago for a Post-Modern grad course, but I wasn’t able to finish due to strange circumstances. So, I had a little taste of what this book contained–and I can’t believe I waited so long to finish this one!

Hiro Protagonist (you guessed it: the lead character) is a pizza delivery boy in Reality, but when he plugs into the Metaverse (think of a primative version of Second Life) he is a champion swordsman and revered hacker. One day when Hiro is in the Metaverse, one of his hacker friends, Da5id, is infected with a type of drug/virus that has not only affected his avatar in the Metaverse but also in Reality. Hiro thus begins his search for answers about the drug/virus, Snow Crash, and a pursuit to stop the virus from spreading and creating mass chaos.

Fast-paced, in your face, action packed, this book is a rollarcoaster! Set in the near future where America has shrunk in size and what has taken its place are small business-like franchise-cities such as Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong. There are no laws, Kouriers on skateboards harpoon cars like parasites, and the only difference between the Metaverse and Reality is a set of goggles. There is a name for this type of science fiction: cyberpunk. (Originally published in 1992)

Although I sometimes had a difficult time figuring out the time-frame and whether something was happening in Reality or in the Metaverse, I was hooked to this book. It is strange and humorous and interesting and it even made my brain hurt with thinking. Not only is it about technology, but Stephenson discusses theories on linguistics and mythology and religion and pulls it all together into a suspenseful thriller. At the end, I have to admit that my attention waned a little. There was a strange relationship between Hiro’s sometime partner, Y.T., and the psychokiller Raven. Also, with every action scene with helicopter and car and boat chases, my mind wanders and I get bored. What? I know!

It is one that I could certainly read again in a few years and pick up so much that I missed. If this sounds like your type of book, I recommend it! You’re certainly in for a thrilling ride.

13 Responses to “Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson”

  1. Thanks for the great review, Trish. I think I may have mentioned before that my husband read this not too long ago and really liked it. After reading your review, I’m even more curious about it.

  2. Ah.. another Neal Stephenson that I really want to read, lets see when I get to it. Long back I got his Cryptonomicon.. but I got lost reading it.. tried to pick it up again a couple of times but couldn’t do it.
    My husband read it and loooved it.. if you are interested, you can read his review on my blog.

  3. You know, my mind gets bored and wanders with action scenes, too. That first long fight scene in the last Harry Potter Book had me loosing attention before I’d even finished the first chapter (thankfully, that didn’t last)

  4. *Lit Feline – I hope I was able to do this book justice, but I fear that I didn’t. Science fiction isn’t usually my genre of choice, but I really enjoyed this one.

    *Chica – to be honest, I hadn’t even heard of Stephenson until I was assigned this book for class. We also read Gibson (Neuromancer) which I also enjoyed. I’ll have to check into his other books. Thanks for the heads up!

    *Jeane – I’m glad I’m not the only one. It drives my husband *crazy* when I’ll get up or start talking or sleep through an action scene. They’re all the same, aren’t they?

  5. “Stephenson discusses theories on linguistics and mythology and religion”

    I’m sold! I can’t believe I had never heard of this. It sounds very original and interesting and like something I’d really enjoy.

  6. *Kim L – this was a really fun read–and I’ve picked up from your blog that you like science fiction.

    *Stephanie – Despite its length, its a pretty fast read. I hope you like it!

    *Nymeth – I think you would like this one. Stephenson relies heavily on the myth of Babel and the ancient Sumerians and I was really fascinated by how everything came together. I’m really interested in language and linguistics, so even though at times it was a little work to piece this book together, it was really interesting.

  7. verbatim

    Trish —

    I’ve been meaning to write for a while now to let you know your review prompted me to read Snow Crash — which is really far out of my usual range — and I loved it! Thanks for a great review that turned me on to something different.

  8. Verbatim – I’m so glad you liked it! It is definitely one I wouldn’t have read either without a little promting.

  9. Just discovered that you reviewed this while looking at your reviewed books list. I read this for the first time earlier this year after having it recommended to me because I liked Ready Player One.

    I see where you are coming from, but I fall on the opposite side. I think the world Stephensen has created is pretty awesome. All of the tech and society created in the story is fascinating. What isn’t fascinating is the actual story set in this world. It’s nonsensical. It jumps around, is confusing to follow. What the hell is actually happening?! To me, the book was used to setup his “world” and the story suffered for it.

    I finished the book, but only barely. I’m trying not to hold it against Stephensen and to try another one of his books, but he tends to write REALLY LONG books and I’m reluctant to pick one up now.

    Pax