Top critical review
I was expecting more...
on November 18, 2007
Needing a break from fantasy, William Gibson's Spook Country seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. As the author of works such as Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition, I thought it would make for a wonderful reading experience.
Unfortunately, though the book is good enough, it is clearly a far cry from what one has come to expect from a writer of William Gibson's caliber. Interestingly enough, the story never quite takes off. Moreover, the ending is about as lackluster as it gets.
The main problem is that one can never really grasp what this book is all about. Short chapters allow us to maintain a level of interest, and the story and characters are intriguing enough to keep us going. Gibson sets a very good pace, making this one a thriller in terms of style.
Having said that, Spook Country lacks that edge, that little something special that sets thriller apart from other fiction subgenres. It lacks that spark that keeps us promising ourselves that this is the last chapter we're reading before our bedtime. Although there are a few cliffhangers, this one is never a particularly exciting read. Indeed, the story sort of creeps up on you, very slowly.
I found the main characters -- Hollis, Tito, and Milgrim -- to be a fascinating bunch at the beginning. And yet, their back stories turn out to be more interesting than the "real time" events.
Still, regardless of the novel's shortcomings, William Gibson succeeds in keeping us interested in what is occurring. As I mentioned, since the reader doesn't understand what is going on, curiosity makes you eager to discover what Spook Country is all about. The author's narrative is as evocative as is usually his wont, which helps the reader along. Sadly, the ending is so disappointing that it killed this one for me.
Spook Country showed signs of brilliance early on, yet the story deteriorates into something quite ordinary before Gibson brings this one to a close.
Nevertheless, it's still a good read for the morning commute or the plane. But there's no denying that Gibson has accustomed his fans to much better works over the course of his career.