by Neal Stephenson – A fascinating premise with dashes of humor and a uniquely dystopian worldview, Snow Crash features a real-world (near-future) setting, as well as a well-realized virtual one. The lead characters are sympathetic and quirky, and I grew to care about them.
The only thing that completely threw me out of the otherwise fast-paced storyline was the author’s decision to DUMP information in huge chunks at awkward points in the novel. At those moments, the action and momentum (with the resulting emotional investment I’d made) just stopped dead. The device Stephenson used (our main protag having a long “conversation” with a virtual librarian while they discuss the nature of semiotics, language, computer programming and the brain) was clunky to the point of hamfisted. And the information itself is dense and difficult to absorb for anyone who is not already well-versed in those subjects.
My advice to those who just want to read the story (without the pace-killing infodumps: skim and skip as necessary. You won’t really miss anything vital to understanding the action. (finished 11/19/13)