Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary, if Hollis lets herself think about it much - which she doesn't. She can't afford to.
Milgrim is a junkie. A high-end junkie, hooked on prescription antianxiety drugs. Milgrim figures he wouldn't survive 24 hours if Brown, the mystery man who saved him from a misunderstanding with his dealer, ever stopped supplying those little bubble packs. What exactly Brown is up to Milgrim can't say, but it seems to be military in nature. At least, Milgrim's very nuanced Russian would seem to be a big part of it, as would breaking into locked rooms.
Bobby Chombo is a "producer" and an enigma. In his day job, Bobby is a troubleshooter for manufacturers of military navigation equipment. He refuses to sleep in the same place twice. He meets no one. Hollis Henry has been told to find him.
©2007 William Gibson; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and Books on Tape. All rights reserved.
"Gibson's fine ninth novel offers startling insights into our paranoid and often fragmented, postmodern world....Compelling characters and crisp action sequences, plus the author's trademark metaphoric language, help make this one of Gibson's best." (Publishers Weekly)
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I listened to this on a trip to Seattle and back. I think the mood of the story goes nicely with air travel and staying in big hotels downtown in cities.
It's so moody (this is Gibson after all) and so... disconnected. In a very good way, since he pulls you into his world.
The characters will stick with you long after the story is done, even though it really gets off to a slow start. You'll end this and want to grab Zero History, which continues the story, right away.
GREAT, GREAT, GREAT. This book follows on to Pattern Recognition, and while it is not a direct sequel, it shares the same future (present?). Gibson has captured perfectly the future, which happens to be today. The narrative reads just like a science fiction thriller, but the science fiction devices are all things from our current world. Most importantly, everything is touched by marketing. This, of course, is why I love Gibson's recent work so much. The flavor is like PKD, there is a lot of cynicism here, with a much more consistent style. Gibson's big advantage is that he takes marketing as a key part of who everyone interprets the reality around them. Not a critical analysis of it, but a reality check--the future has arrived, and it is all about consumption.
I especially loved the dead-pan delivery of Robertson Dean, which captures Gibson prose very well.
This novel was disappointing. I found that the final ending was really a let down. All this excitement over something that was ultimately mundane if you ask me. And the merging of the different story lines was awkward at best. The characters all have interesting starts, but the just kind of go nowhere. The references to pop and geek culture were entirely gratuitous --- especially the story about chombo. Give me a break! I'm really sorry I wasted a credit on this one.
This is the Gibson of Pattern Recognition, not Neuromancer. A contemporary novel about intrigue, but with passing reference to cutting-edge technology. The book itself I'd give 4 stars to- I liked the multiple story threads, and felt Gibson tied them together well at the end. The ideas behind the story itself are brilliant. But I never felt as engaged with Hollis Henry, the protagonist (of sorts) as I did with Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition. The other leading characters, too, were not entirely fleshed out. As for the reader, he does an OK job. Characters each have their own voice. Unfortunately he does not do accents well, so many of the characters who I'm sure would have unique accents only have a variation on an American voice.
Pattern Recognition was a dream-like story with a wild and complex plot that never quite resolved itself (for me). Spook Country starts out the same and then becomes a more direct plot with a kick. It's futuristic, but it could happen today. It's a mystery, but it's totally plausible. The prose is inventive, but it's totally understandable. It's a great book.
Very much feeling like a sequel or a parallel story to Pattern Recognition, Spook Country finds Gibson honing his new contemporary style. I really think that it's in these two books that he's finally come into his own.
While Pattern Recognition in many ways was a contemporary cyberpunk novel, this novel strays further into character development and character study, with great results. The plot is perhaps less immediately arresting than Pattern Recognition's, and the main character less oddly unique. However, all of the supporting characters truly shine, fascinatingly sketched and engaging. It's really one of the few stories I've read in a long time which presented the material from multiple viewpoints anchored to multipl characters where there were no characters that I disliked and no chapters that I wanted to rush through to get back to my favourite storyline.
The way the loose threads are ultimately gathered up is slightly more coincidental and convenient than in PR, but ultimately I think more satisfying, for the triumphs are more personal and you wind up feeling for the all of the people of this story.
A really engaging read. I listened to the audiobook version, read by Robertson Dean, and he did a magnificent job, a slick, polished flatness to his voice that suited the text brilliantly while still providing enough characterization to make the characters each pop out.
Two thumbs up. :)
From Austen to zombies!
I enjoyed William Gibson's previous novel, Pattern Recognition, but I felt as if there was something missing. Now I know what that was--in Spook Country, Gibson goes back to multiple points of view. We get to know several characters, instead of just one, with excellent results.
I have always read Gibson for his visual prose style and his speculations on modern life. But getting inside characters' heads may be what he does best. This go-round we get Hollis Henry, a former singer who's now a reporter; Milgrim, a very intellectual addict; and Tito, a sort of mafia apparatchik with a surprisingly spiritual outlook.
Hollis offers an interesting perspective on what it's like to be a former celebrity--if indeed she is still a former celebrity and not a current one. People still recognize her, yet her band is no longer together and she worries about her bills. Tito is at peace within himself although his circumstances are often uncertain.
Milgrim, however, is worth the price of the book. Frequently left to his own devices by the brutish Brown, he ponders philosophical questions, or reads an arcane book on medieval heresies. However, as an addict, he must remain practical, and the resulting mental balancing act had me laughing out loud on the bus.
All three are involved in a "caper" plot that, unlike some in previous Gibson novels, unfolds methodically, without feeling forced or rushed at the end. I wouldn't call this a thriller, but you will definitely want to listen to the end. Also, there was less angst and paranoia throughout, and more of a sense of hope for the world.
The narrator does a fine job, even with female voices, and his pronunciations were excellent. The production values were quite good as well, with consistent volume and no fuzzy spots.
Highly recommended--the best Gibson I've read in quite a while.
I really have enjoyed Gibsons older stuff but with Pattern Recognition and even more with Spook Country the guy just meanders too much. I'm half way through and I find I don't really care about any of the characters, don't really understand the plot and am having a really tough time hanging in there. Gibson's writing continues to be unique and often engaging but it keeps leading nowhere in this story. Also the plain old modern setting isn't nearly as exciting as the bleak future stuff in my opinion. William, if you're reading this I'm sorry man... I just don't get it.
audible listener!! :o)
Loved it. Gibson's book two of the latest trilogy is a little slow to start up, but then once it kicks in it's a great story. The characters are fantastic, and there's a good use of NYC, LA and Vancouver - the locations are very evocative.
This is one of the few audio books on which I have given up about an hour in. I even took a break of a few months and tried to start over to no avail. The story just drones along and I kept tuning out while driving in the car, which is not usually a problem. I have read everything by William Gibson and am thinking this one would be better on paper. Not recommended.
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