The Peripheral

The Peripheral - William Gibson Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 2
boobs: 0
bombs: 0
bondage: 0
blasphemy: 0
Bechdel Test: FAIL
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: FAIL

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.

I like to think of myself as a HUGE Gibson fan. I was but a wee lad when Neuromancer came out, and I absorbed it as greedily as I did every issue of Omni. The Chiba City trilogy has had a profound effect on my entire life; it's shaped my aesthetics, informed my worldview and provided a schema into which I sort the minutae of my culture.

I hadn't been reading any fiction for a while, so when I decided I needed to read "recreational" books again I was excited to find this release. While the Chiba City trilogy is part of my Holy Pantheon of Greatest Books Ever Written, his later works didn't make such a deep impression on me. The reviews indicated this book incorporated more of the gritty, technologically oriented "street" than Idoru or Pattern Recognition and I eagerly tried to immerse myself into Gibson's latest near dark future.

I didn't finish the book. I got about 2/3 of the way through it and gave up. I was ready to give up at one third, but in honor of the memory of Case and Molly I soldiered on. There were two problems that I just couldn't get around that ultimately ruined the book for me.

First, I feel like I've read this story already. A plucky young lady with more brains than brawn gets involved with organized criminals who need her unique skills and experience. She's assisted by a team of wealthy criminals and brawny older men as she tries to figure out the new rules of her life and manipulate those around her to her own best advantage. Yawn.

Secondly, I couldn't keep the different characters apart. The voicing felt amateurish and the characterization was interesting for the characters that had access to the futuristic timeline, but the characters back in the (almost) contemporary timeline (with the exception of our plucky heroine) all blurred together into one mass that manifested itself as necessary to move the plot along.

Clearly, a lot of other people like the book so I suppose I'm the oddball here. I think it's fair to say I started the book with a lot of expectations; would I like the story better if I'd never read any Gibson before? In all honesty - probably. But I have read lots of Gibson and I found myself wanting more chrome and blood and corruption and grit and broken emotions than this provided me.