Date Read: June 20th, 2021
Final Score: 8 / 10 !
As a Hyper-Futuristic novel that was originally published in 1992, this definitely has a very Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell kinda vibe-- mainly that Life is still Life despite the calamity of the Technopocalypse, 90's grunge became more than just a fashion statement as the Government basically collapsed, and everything goes more smoothly when we all roll up to every negotiation with a health dose of sarcasm to play ball with.
I definitely enjoyed the acknowledgement of the fact that people want Life to be a cliche and chipper-yet-dramatic action movie, to the point that people literally shape their lives into fitting the mold they'd envisioned, but I did feel it missed the mark in some places, simply because the narrative's official 'victory' didn't really deal with any part of the real Problem, it just removed the present Threat. There's likely an intentional comment in that, but I feel like it's rendered ineffective because I'm more concerned with how the story feels unresolved in the big-picture view of it than I am with how it shows that leaving problem resolution unfinished is one of the main reasons the world collapsed to begin with...
The best part of the ending, absolutely, is the bit where when the world-ending threat is dealt with and all that, it's time to call Mom for a ride home (and she shows up to help, no questions asked, happy to not-quite participate and simply support her child).
The narrative style was dramatic and highly unique. While I didn't enjoy it, per se, I do think it was well-accomplished and that it suited the story it was meant to tell. It DID produce a ton of really great quotable moments, though, which I highly appreciate.
The characters were great, even though we only got to view them on a fairly surface level (a symptom of it being both an adult novel and being a product of 80's & 90's dystopia narrative convention). More importantly, I really enjoyed how our two main characters were essentially accidental BFFs and the narration never so much as hinted at there being any legitimate romantic potential between them.
The plot was fun and worked into the grit of complex world building as an intrinsic and inevitable aspect of what a world like this would produce, so while I didn't actually like some of what happened, I DEEPLY enjoyed that the world's mechanics were so closely linked to what occurred within it and vice versa. It also had some really great mythology allusions and well-researched inter-connections between language, psychology, and the structure of reality.
The best bit over all though were the Nice Doggies. Super Creepy? Check. Effectively utilized as narrative tools? Check. Rendered as both immoral and beneficent in turns? Check. PUPPERS BEING PUPPERS? CHECK PLUS! It's an apocalypse in America story, so obviously, someone shoots a dog. But in this case the dog more or less survives and things work out well enough to make things feel optimistic.
It's an excellent novel, that feels both dated and hyper-futuristic.
It misses the point, a bit, on how and why tech develops as rapidly and all-consuming-ly as it does, but it also makes great comments on why gangs develop and will never be eradicated (there's seriously very little way to corral the problem because the 'problem' is that gang-structure is the single-most efficient governing structure that humans have ever devised and the 'solution' being implements to solve it is a mish-mash of overlapping agencies that serve more to prove the gangs' point than anything).
I highly recommend it as a modern classic, and a necessary read for anyone to consider themselves well-rounded persons, but it's certainly not one that I'd consider a favorite of mine, personally.