Listener of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Intrigue (not romance), Historical Fiction and very eclectic in her literary wanderings.
This book benefited from being an audio book. The lead characters had their own narrators which kept it lively and interesting. I loved the concept of the Web being alive and it made me think about just how much we live online now.
Overall a good novel, bit of an obvious cliff hanger.
...it might be worth your credit. I spent a lot of time thinking "this is an awesome idea" but the implementation is lacking. Specifically (and possibly spoiler-ish) I got the impression that if I were writing the same story, I wouldn't have represented the Internet in such a linear, geometric, symbolic way -- lines and boxes. Albeit I don't know what he's got planned for the next books, I think Sawyer could have added a whole other level of abstraction (engaging the creative imaginative parts of the mind, for example) to the way the protagonists interpreted things -- visually -- and it would have added something, otherwise ineffable, to the story.
This is an interesting idea, and in parts it is very compelling. But as you listen, you get the sense the author made a list of puns he thought were clever and proved that he was smart, then wrote the book around them. Maddeningly, he leaves an entire plot line - the most interesting one - behind!
The actor reading the part of the webmind has watched way too much William Shatner and too many adult films. He made a tough listen almost impossible.
All that being said, I probably will continue to follow the series if nothing else to find out about Hobo and the Chinese blogger.
To bad Sawyer had to ruin a great story, using it as a soapbox for his obsession with teenage sex, disgusting lesbian relationships, Christian bashing, and exulting evolution as the new liberal god.
Although I've read many books from Robert J. Sawyer in the past, and liked most of them; I must say this is quite boring. It takes so many pages for anything a bit interesting to happen... Even it is a part of a trilogy, the beginning should be much tastier. I don't think I'm gonna take the second
NV, not NY
Robert Sawyer is without question one of my favorite science fiction authors, however, for me this one was a miss. One of the big misses for me was the choice to have the adult reader do a fake valley girl impression for the main character. I found this voice so annoying as to make the book almost unlistenable. I persevered thinking that the story would make the listening worthwhile in the end - not really. There's also a side story about web censorship in China that has no relevance to the story. I kept waiting for the tie-in, but it never came.
I have read everything by this author, so obviously I think he is good, though not great. However, the qualities that made his other books so entertaining are completely lost in this one. I really can't sum it up any better than the following review from another reader, which I will provide in quotes - it completely hits the nail on the head:
'Sawyer has things to tell you, and nothing will stop him. Characters know things they don't need to know:
"Sho was aware that there had been a much earlier version by Simon and Garfunkel,but she only knew their names because of the chimp at Yerkes known as Simian Garfinkle."
Or sometimes they know things that they don't know:
"'Le'azazel!' exclaimed Anna; it sounded like a curse word to Caitlin."
And then suddenly a teenager in a high-school mathematics curriculum becomes a working expert on information theory and cellular automata.
When Sawyer can't plausibly have his teenaged protagonist discover all of computational linguistics, he hands off the exposition to a handful of interchangeable scientists. But there isn't a grain of characterization that doesn't feel obligatory; we feel the author straining to get back to the good stuff: summarizing papers and putting them between quotation marks.
The book isn't self-contained. Things happen, but no conclusions are reached. The Internet becomes self-aware, an ape paints a picture, a blind teenager's sight is restored. This might set us up for hijinks in the coming books, but it's not a satisfying read. We aren't even left with any urgent sense of events in motion; the book just ends.
The writing is engaging, once you stop trying to figure out why the narrators of the individual chapters all sound the same, and once you realize that it's okay to skim the chapters in which the Internet ponderously considers its own condition. But really, why waste your time? '
Since you're an audible listener, you are probably computer savvy. As a result, you probably won't like this book. The idea is that the Internet somehow develops intelligence and that a girl with a vision implant is able to "see" the internet as a bunch of lines and nodes.
If you don't know how the Internet works, that premise may work for you. Otherwise, it will probably be too hard to suspend your disbelief over this author's lack of understanding of computers and networks.