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VWN Product Reviews: Mona Lisa Overdrive

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Mona Lisa Overdrive, penned in 1988, is the third and final book of William Gibson?s Sprawl trilogy, and also, his third book. Following on the heels of Neuromancer and Count Zero, Overdrive is by far the most lightweight of the trio, basing more in reflected glory from the other books, than attempting to stand on its own.

Set in the same world as the other two, some twenty years after Count Zero, it has lost the feeling of fast-paced change, as both technologically and culturally it feels almost stagnant, unchanging.

Borrowing heavilly on past character personalities, this hodge-podge is very different to most books, in that it attempts to follow simultaneously, four almost totally unrelated stories of individuals, whose paths barely cross save at the very end. These four being of very different backgrounds and ideals.

Mona, the woman of the title, is a young street prostitute who happens to bear a marked resemblance to a superstar of SimStim (full body sensory replication), Angie Mitchell (yes, the same one as starred in Count Zero, now grown up). A shady gang with influence abduct her, planning to turn her into a double of Angie to mask a kidnap plot.

In the second story, young Kumiko is the daughter of a Yakuza boss sent to London to keep her safe while her father engages in a gang war with other top Yakuza leaders.

The third tale follows a reclusive artist named Slick Henry, who lives in the Rust Belt, a large, poisoned expanse of deserted factories and dumps somewhere between Cleveland and Chicago, and who is a convicted car thief.

The final plot line follows Angela Mitchell, in her daily life.

Overall, the novel is fairly shallow, and at times loses direction entirely. It does however have the notable distinction of pursuing SimStim to its logical technological conclusion, and is notable for that fact. It also expands greatly on the life support necessities for a human body whose mind is in cyberspace full time.

 

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