©1997 William Gibson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
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 a future Earth in which national governments have been replaced by large biotech companies.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)
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.
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.
If u wish to 'complete' the Sprawl trilogy u must read/listen to this piece...
most liked: re-appearance of a character (in an alley), also the pocket hologram guideleast - ending...
Count Zero remains my favorite of the Sprawl Trilogy; and All Tomorrow's parties along with the bigend trilogy (e.g. Pattern Recognition) and one volume recently released collection of Gibson's nonfiction pieces are of much greater interest than Mona Lisa Overdrive.
About the story:
I like Count Zero best of Gibson's first trilogy but MLO is the happiest of the three stories and I like it too. I've never been happy with the weaving of different characters' stories into one plot.
In case you don't know, this story depends very much on events from the first two books. CZ can be read alone but this is not a wise idea for MLO.
About the reading:
The reading of this book is enunciated with great care. But some of the words are so badly pronounced that I had to laugh. Gibson's reading of Neuromancer which clearly exposed his Southern/Cajun roots was as confusing as it was interesting. This reading is similar: foyer for example is pronounced as though it meant more foy.
The most important problem with the reading however is that Gibson's narrator often speaks for the characters using their 'voice'. In the reading the switches are inconsistent at best, and the voices and accents chosen for some of the characters are just plain jarring.
The story moved along smoothly from beginning to end... more than I can say about the reader. Davis inserts random pauses that disrupt the flow of sentences and periodically starts whispering so softly I had to crank up the volume just to catch what he was saying.
Example: "She moved across the room, pausing by the door to listen."
That sentence would be read: She moved across the room pausing by the door to listen.
Davis reads it: "She moved across the roompausingby the door (whispers) to listen."
Some of the pauses last, seriously five seconds... in the middle of a sentence! I'm waiting for the next chapter to begin or to hear that I've reached the end of a part of the book but it's just a random pause thrown into the middle of a sentence... for no reason at all.
Well done conclusion to Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.
Street Samurai Molly is back in a big way.
There's not much point in commenting on the story. If you're listening to this, you're (hopefully) at least somewhat familiar with Neuromancer and Count Zero.
As for the narration, it's fine. Neither outstanding nor abysmal. His Japanese isn't as good as his French, but it's not bad or jarring. My biggest problem (as with many audio books) is the lack of preparation. If I knew I was going to be narrating books two and three of a trilogy, I think I'd be sure to listen to book one first, particularly since Neuromancer was read by Gibson himself* so I would know he pronounced all the names the way they were intended. Had Jonathan Davis done this he'd know that "Armitage" isn't pronounced Armitahj (just one example). This happens far too often with audio books, as if the producer hands the narrator a book at random and says "Here, read this" without ever checking with the author or publisher to make sure they get the names and accents right.
*A true pity Audible doesn't carry it and evidently can't acquire the rights to produce their own recording.
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