©1997 William Gibson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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"Narrator is Fantastic"
I'm diametrically opposed to the last reviewer's comments regarding Davis' narration.
Gibson's books contain a polyglot of races and accents. Davis is the perfect choice for these works as his ear for accents is nothing short of amazing. He's one of the few narrators who can manage southern, hispanic, and african-american accents and not force me to cringe.
The narrator delivers an outstanding performance. His voice, rythm and style are the best I've heard on Audible so far. He gives the characters distinct voices without sounding cheesy. Each character speaks with a unique dialect too (American, British, Japanese) and the Japanese words are pronounced perfectly.
Normally I am not into writing reviews, however this performance of one of my favorite books demands it.
"The Best of the Sprawl"
So I made it to the end. Having begun this trilogy with Neuromancer many many years ago, and finally finishing it up now, has left the entire Sprawl series a bit disjointed. Conversely and oddly enough though, my enjoyment of the series actually increased per book. I think I approached the book the wrong way though and honestly for someone new to Gibson's writing style, it's probably not the most accessible entry. It could be due to Gibson's tightening and improving writing, my own maturity, and my own knowledge of how to handle his writing, that leads me to say that Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third in the series, is actually the best of the 3. (Count Zero close behind though). Mona Lisa Overdrive (MLO) attempts to tie together the previous books, and gives some surprising levels of backstory to things like the whole Tessier Ashpool history. I was surprised in a good way to see such a blanket laid out history.
What really gets to me with Gibson is his use of confusing names, for people/places/events. People have multiple names and handles, often many of which don't come off sounding like names or places. I make note of this because if you make the mistake of listening to this trilogy via audiobook, this makes it utterly confusing. In doing so I heavily suggest you still grab a copy of the the physical novels. It makes reading them so..so much easier. I can't stress that part enough. Countless times I've been left baffled as to the events and characters because names were mentioned and I had no clue who or what was being referred to.
Anyway like the previous Gibson books, we're giving a menagerie of characters all of which you can surmise will be linked in some way by the end of the book. Likewise there's a few characters that return in MLO, continuing the link from Count Zero. Out of all of the books, this one is the "tightest" in terms of story. What I mean by that, is that to me, it follows more logical, progressive events. Things happen, and people react to those things in a seemingly reasonable fashion. This may have been the case in the previous books, but again, before I found out really "how to read Gibson" it may have been lost on me. Of course there are moments here in MLO that seem to string the reader along, not really providing answers as to what the characters are doing, but just following them. I'm not a big fan of this style after a while as it comes off as very ad hoc and "off the cuff".
The characters of MLO are actually memorable (imagine that!) Maybe except Yumiko, they all have a real sort of feel that plays into the cyberpunk motifs. Yumiko, comes off to me as very flat, boring and honestly not very plot centric. Angie Mitchell, who is a carry over from the 2nd book, has rocketed to fame ( though we never really know how or why this is) has a secret drug filled life (what celeb doesn't) and is making her return to the lime light, but apparently someone wants to keep her drugged and in a stupor. What separates her from any other, is that she can jack into the matrix without any wires or connecting head gear. I assume this has to do with the fact that her daddy used to work at one of the big Pharm corps, and had her head tested on and inserted some weird cancer like cells and stuff in her brain. This is literally what I gleaned from the previous book.
I'm going to digress a bit here and begin a small rant. I've referenced above that by MLO I've learned how to "read" Gibson. What I've meant by this is that I've learned the art of reading a book/chapter synopsis. Seriously, If I didn't own the physical copy of the book so I could actually see the names, and descriptions, and have online resources for a synopsis. I probably would NOT have gotten to book III. Nor would I have enjoyed it if I did. There's a few really good sites out there that give character bios that really go a long way in helping understand what the characters are doing, how they interact, and what their motives are. Looking back, I'm not sure if I would have pieced it together that Sally Sheers was the same woman from book one, Molly Millions. Gibson never tells you anything out right. All of his hints and explanations are done in such a round about way of description that unless you are really focusing and (for me) making notes about descriptions of characters, a lot of it can pass over your head. Again audio listening to these is not kind to this series.
Anyway back on track to the characters. We have another female character (thinking about it now, this is a pretty pro femme fatale cast!) Mona. While angie is a glamorous superstar, Mona is a seedy prostitute who has fallen in with some douche named Eddy who think's he's made a really good deal in trying to pimp her out, but is pretty much double crossed and most likely killed. Good riddence. What strikes me as odd, and I'm sort of just coming to this realization now, is that out of all of the books, MLO actually has very very little time in the Matrix space. Most of the book takes place in the real world. And I actually think that's a good thing. To me, this book didn't really give off too much of a cyberpunk vibe, or maybe "lo-fi" cyberpunk.
What sort of turns me off to the entire story line of the Sprawl series, is the constant linking of these spiritual gods. Now while I get the use of religious cults and sects in cyberpunk, the whole voodoo thing just seems so random. So apparently after the two AI Wintermute and Neuromancer fused, voodoo african gods spread over the net. lol...wut? And apparently everyone worships them now. I had no idea who or what "Bridgette" was. It just...seems forced. If they were there from the beginning...sure I would have been more accepting but the fact that they just appear is just weird.
One gripe for me is ( and this may again fall on the audio style) is that the characters who are mostly all female, all have a supporting retinue of supporting characters. This makes it a bit confusing, especially going towards the end when they begin to intermingle. I was often finding myself going back and seeing which "butler" was originally with who, etc... The exception to this is the AI for Yumiko, Collin. Who btw is my favorite character....I want a Collin-bro. One character that also stands out is the AI, called Continuity. It's ( I think...) Angie's house "library" assistant. It's sort of like Amazon Echo I reckon. But more about keeping records and keeping track of life events relating to it's owner. It's pretty cool, and is one of the surprisingly few bits of technology actually in the book.
As stated before the book doesn't really give off a super over the top Cyberpunk vibe as the previous two books did. This one is more subtle, which I don't think is a bad thing. One bit that I did enjoy is the backstory of Tessier-Ashpool. More importantly I liked the way that Gibson gave it to us. Instead of just telling us (Gibson would never do that)... He presents it in a way that Angie is watching a documentary, and having it be through the eyes of sort of a director of the documentary. It's hard to explain but it comes off rather interesting. It's sort of like a narrative of how the director shot the documentary.
The climax is at the end of the book, Sally/Molly comes back to her tough as nails persona in a big way, which made me happy to see. She came off as just a bitch earlier, but once the crap hit the fan, she stepped up and took no shit, putting 3Jane in her place. Oh and on a side note, the fact that Bobby (also from the previous book) is in a coma for literally the entire book, was a pretty cool idea. I figured they'd have him be the main character, or come out of the Aleph all Neo like and omnipotent. Nope, He was knocked out the entire book, and that just lent itself to being something unique. Now that being said...the end of this book is...just...anti-climatic. We're all squared away with 3Jane back, looking to take out Angie, and revenge herself on Molly etc... Great battle lined up, the players meet..and then.... nothing? They just forgive her and move on? I'm not sure if there's some sort of hidden message that I missed, but I doubt it.. The book ends pretty flatly, but getting there was a fun ride. For a bit, I was genuinely interested in how the characters were going to meet, and their impact on the story. Aside from the bizarre naming conventions he confusingly uses for characters and places in the Sprawl trilogy, I enjoy this last one. I honestly will probably never read any of them again really, but MLO sticks out as being the best of the worst so to speak. In comparsion to characters like Case from Neuromancer who I had absolutely no vested interest in, these characters here in MLO seem much more fleshed out and actually relatable.
I can't say I'd currently recommend the series to others truth me told. If this were 1994...sure, I'd be all over it... but the books don't unfortunately offer enough ground breaking material to warrant a full read through. While I may suggest reading them out of respect for the genre, and it's foundations, you can honestly find better scifi/ cyberpunk else where.
Didn't think I could like anything as much as I liked Neuromancer, but this I like equally as much. The way this author balances entertainment with literary value, with poetry, it's just too amazing. I can't fathom it. And what an awesome ending!
"Intricate enough for several listens."
This ranks in top 20 of 100+ books I've listened to. I am a big fan of Jonathan Davis, though, so this made a big difference.
The characters all had unique personalities, and the action kept things moving along fairly well, even though Gibson's stories are fairly cerebral.
Compared favorably to All Tomorrow's parties and The Windup Girl, both of which I listened to multiple times.
"Bright enough to attract/Worn enough to comfort"
“The world hadn’t ever had so many moving parts or so few labels.”
― William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive
There is something about Gibson that keeps me coming back. Part of it is how, like PKD, he seems to always have a sense of what is around the next two corners. Not just the objects. No. The textures and smells and ambiguities too. It is like Gibson doesn't just have foresight, he has foresmell and foretaste. Anyway, even with that, this wasn't his best book and not in the strong half of the Sprawl trilogy.
In this book Gibson is weaving together four plot threads.
Thread One: Japanese Yakuza princess in peril hides in London and hangs with "Sally Shears" aka Molly Milions (of Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic fame).
Thread Two: Angie Mitchell from Book 2 (Count Zero) of the Sprawl trilogy seeks to find lost boyfriend while dealing with the addiction and costs of Simstim fame.
Thread Three: Mona a innocent prostitute is sucked into a crime world where she is made to look like Angie as a piece in an abduction attempt on Angie.
Thread Four: Slick Henry and friends care for the comatose body of the "Count" Bobby Newmark from the 'Count Zero'.
One note. I did appreciate how diligent Gibson is in building strong female characters. There are just as many ass kicking females as damsels in distress. Gibson doesn't flirt with feminist ideas. He is able to incorporate strong women naturally. It isn't decoration or an after thought. It appears as natural to him as writing about fabric or fashion.
Gibson weaves these various plots and characters together and it all only frays a bit toward the end. I get where he was trying to go with everything, it just lost a bit of focus, the resolution wasn't great, the pay-off was subpar. But still I know when Gibson writes another book, I'll get sucked back in because the Matrix/Cyberspace/Sprawl worlds Gibson builds feel bright enough to attract and worn enough to comfort.
One of those exceptional combinations of a brilliant story and an ideal narrator, where the sum seems greater than the parts ---
"Just do it"
Neuromancer, count zero, mona lisa overdrive
Great depth in the story,very aartistic and powerful writing, great narration by Davis for the last two (I didn't listen to Neuromancer but read it instead and it's different narrator)
"Top rate trilogy. Abstract but worth it!!"
Gibson is clearly a top rate author. What a great mix of plot, characters, and action. Narration continued to be top rate. Not for everyone but if you think it may be worth it based on the audible description, then you will love it. 6 stars easy!
"Stylish, lacks impact of prequels"
In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson???s Sprawl trilogy, it???s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she???s a famous simstim star who???s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who???s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.
In a dilapidated section of New Jersey, Slick Henry makes large animated robotic sculptures out of scrap metal. He owes Kid Afrika a favor, so now he has to hide the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (aka ???Count Zero???). Bobby is jacked into an Aleph where he???s got some secret project going on. A Cleveland girl named Cherry Chesterfield is Bobby???s nurse.
Kumiko is the daughter of a Japanese Yakuza crime boss. Her father has sent her to live in London while the Yakuza war is going on. There she meets Gibson???s most iconic character, Molly Millions, who???s going by the name Sally Shears. Molly is being blackmailed by Lady 3Jane, so Kumiko inadvertently gets dragged into the kidnapping plot.
Mona Lisa Overdrive contains several exciting action scenes which feature kidnappings, shoot-outs, helicopter escapes, remote-controlled robot warriors, collapsing catwalks, and falling refrigerators. These are loosely connected by the continuation and conclusion of the AI plot which began in Neuromancer. I wasn???t completely satisfied with the sketchy ending or the wacky reveal on the last page, but that???s okay. I was mainly reading Mona Lisa Overdrive for the style, anyway.
So much of Gibson???s style and success stems from the mesmerizing world he???s built ??? a future Earth in which national governments have been replaced by large biotech companies. Japan is modern and glitzy and much of the former United States has fallen into decay. By the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive (don???t even attempt to read it before reading both Neuromancer and Count Zero), you???re feeling rather comfortable (or as comfortable as is possible to feel) in this world, so the setting lacks the force it had in the previous novels. In Mona Lisa Overdrive, you???ll visit London, but it seems to be stuck in the 20th century, so it feels instantly (and a little disappointingly) familiar.
But Gibson manages to keep things fresh and highlight his unique style by introducing new characters and delving deep into their psyches. Even minor characters are works of art, such as Eddy, Mona???s low-class scheming pimp, and Little Bird, who earned that moniker because of his weird hairdo. Even when the plots don???t satisfy, it???s entertaining enough just to hang out with Gibson???s unforgettable characters. The exception is Kumiko, who has little personality and seems to exist mainly to remind us that Japan has surpassed America, and for an excuse to show us a new bit of cool technology (Colin, the chip-ghost).
In 1989, Mona Lisa Overdrive was nominated for, but did not win, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award. It lacks the impact of its prequels, but it???s still a stylish piece of work and not to be missed if you???re a fan of William Gibson. I listened to the audio version narrated by Jonathan Davis. He is excellent, as always, and I recommend this version to audio readers. You may have to work at Neuromancer on audio if you???re not familiar with this world and its slang, but by the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive, that problem is long gone. (Originally posted at Fantasy Literature)
"It's a Trilogy! I'll do it justice next time!"
I read Neuromancer many years ago, found it hard work but intriguing nonetheless. So when I saw another one of Gibson's books appear in one of Audible's special offers I though why not? Unusually for me I just assumed this was stand-alone and I think this took something away from it. If you're considering reading this without the other two I would say stop and get the others first.
Gibson has an interesting writing style. He hints at things often leaving the reader to fill in the background for themselves. Combined with this and the fact that me memory had little of Neuromancer left and nothing of the second book at all made this hard going. I gave it four stars because that mistake was mine but I probably only got 3 stars enjoyment out of it . . . if that makes sense!
Gibson is a clever writer though. I like the fact that he doesn't feel the need to handhold me through everything. The world of the Sprawl is not a pleasant one. The characters all have a detachment from their world borne of its nature. This most certainly isn't easy reading or for anyone who likes to warm to noble heroes. I'd also agree with some of the other reviewers that the pace and tonality of the narration, while it did fit the book very well, was on the slow and monotone side for me.
Despite all this, I will in a few years re-visit this, starting from the beginning of the trilogy of course. It's clever stuff, well thought out, and I want to do it justice next time!
After listening to the neuromancer, I had to listen to Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Although different narrator (so need a few chapters to get used to), really enjoyed it.
As usual for Gibson it takes a few chapters to really understand what is going on, then as ur figuring it out it picks up pace, and as u finally work it out it concludes. Master author.
if you liked neuro and count this won't fail to interest, good end to an innovative trikogy
"not as good as his others but still a must read"
not as good as his others but still a must read
not as good as his others but still a must read
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