Retro Review: Mona Lisa Overdrive

The third installment in “The Sprawl,” is a disappointment. With a thing that’s supposed to resemble a plot and some of the characters having spanned across three novels, the book introduces more questions and mysteries than it sets out to answer and still fails to flesh any of the characters out – even the recurring ones. And while the mystery and intrigue of the Sprawl Trilogy is something that kept me reading, as I got closer and closer to the end of this book I kept asking myself, “how on Earth is everything going to resolve itself?” The answer being that it simply doesn’t.

The character Kumiko is central to the narrative – having several chapters devoted to her “journey.” However, she contributes next to nothing to the plot (if there even is one), and her journey just ends up taking us in a circle.

Gentry’s fascination with the matrix is introduced as a major plot device, yet nothing comes of it. What did he find? What did he know previously? What did he discover? We’ll never know.

3Jane is a character that spans the entire series – perhaps you could call her the main character, as each story revolves around her. Yet, in this book she’s depicted only briefly as a jealous and psychotic murderer – which was not her motive in the previous novels.

Angie’s evident influence over the matrix and the world based on the fact that she’s technologically advanced evidently means absolutely nothing…

The list of holes, unfulfilled character realization, and unresolved plots goes on and on. Things get built up and then abruptly dropped into oblivion and forgotten. Characters disappear into obscurity just as quickly as they are brought from it.As the other two books lacked in these areas as well, “Mona Lisa Overdrive” is perhaps the worst of the three.

It is unfortunate because Gibson’s narrative is altogether incredibly intelligent, artful, and imaginative. If he’d combine that with a well plotted story and fleshed out characters that actually¬†mean something to each other, he’d be absolute dynamite. I spent the whole series waiting for that punch, that explosive “Holy Shit!” moment where it all made sense. The Loa, Legba, the shape in the matrix. Who is Kumiko? Will Slick Henry ever play out the trail? Yet there was no climax – only the same brief and cluttered convergence of underdeveloped characters that was experienced in the previous novels. Then, poof! It was all over.

— Mr. Mutant



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