This Week, I Read… (2021 #13)

#36 – Virtual Light, by William Gibson

  • Mount TBR: 34/100
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

Three strikes and you’re out, I don’t really know why I keep trying with Gibson. I read Neuromancer in college, and while understanding it was a pioneer, thought other more recent cyberpunk novels were better in pretty much every way. A few years later, for some unknown reason I tried Idoru, and I hated it, and it solidified my belief that Gibson was far too fond of sentence fragments and apparently terrified of including verbs.

I found this novel for pennies at a used bookshop, and I can only plead temporary insanity for buying it in order to try again to like Gibson. DNF @ page 70, though at least there were verbs–I have no major complaints about the writing style itself, which has so far been a sticking point with me.

I’m genuinely not sure what’s more to blame, though, in standing between me and possibly enjoying this story. By 20% in, where I gave up, there’s barely any plot to speak of; I only know that the two main characters are going to meet up and have adventures together with the stolen tech one of them lifted from a rich dude based on the back-cover blurb. They hadn’t met and the secondary main character (a woman) has gotten remarkably little screen time compared to the main-main character (a man.) So there’s that.

But then, there’s just something inherently silly to me about reading a novel in 2021 that was published in 1993 but is about the dystopian future in 2005. Obviously history didn’t happen this way, but even the “future” is badly dated, and who sets their near-future vision only twelve years out? I couldn’t take it seriously, but that’s not really the book’s fault, is it? That’s just the passing of time.

On the other hand, I was bored by all that detail about how the world and society was falling apart, when I could have been having story happen instead. So if the world-building is getting in the way of the plot, isn’t that a problem whether the details themselves are interesting or not?

It’s all me being philosophical with myself anyway, because I didn’t enjoy what I did read and I won’t finish it. I’m over my cyberpunk years, and if I ever do want to get back into it, I’ll read authors I already trust instead of repeatedly trying to make myself like this one, just because he did it first.

#37 – A Hero to Keep, by Susan Gable

  • Mount TBR: 35/100
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

From a structural perspective, I see how this all fits together: there are character arcs for each lead, a romance arc for them together, a “getting past trauma” arc for the kid that leads into a “now we’re a family” ending.

So it’s not lacking anything in terms of plot, but somehow through the whole thing, I was never moved. Maybe Shannon’s cold/distant attitude at the beginning never really lifted and cast a pall over everything else for me; maybe I never fully invested in the “fight” they were fighting to work things out.

Despite clocking in at over 200 pages, though, I actually feel like parts of this were rushed–Greg and Shannon leap into physical intimacy much earlier than I expected, even if that first encounter doesn’t get horizontal. I never really felt their chemistry, so seeing them get all passionate out of basically nowhere was a sour note, and as the story progressed, it kept getting sourer, because they were supposed to not form a romantic or sexual relationship for reasons, but the story would have me believe that they were just too hot for each other to let that stop them. No, I don’t believe you, story, they’ve got no zing to speak of.

This was a freebie I picked up ages ago by a new-to-me author, and I finally got to it, and it’s just so-so. Not going to continue the series, can’t particularly recommend this for any standout feature, it’s just functional and kind of dry.

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