Book Reviews

by Theo Henson — 2021-12-01

I plan on posting reviews of books I read that I find noteworthy. In the mean time, here are my thoughts on a few I've finished recently.

Now that I'm going to be thinking about writing reviews, I should have more to say about future books; mind the brevity of these.

Rated out of 5 stars.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

A large influence in its corner of science fiction.

The book felt psychedelic—half the time you didn't know exactly what was happening or why, but eventually you got the point. I like that disoriented feeling if it's done right (which I think it does), though another reader might not. Quite frequently I encountered paragraphs that straddled a line between being superbly poetic or extremely cheesy—maybe they were both?

There wasn't much character development, but it didn't matter to me. The expansive world-building more than made up for it (as is typical with sci-fi).

4.8 stars.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

A logical progression from Neuromancer to get an idea of the cyberpunk genre. While not entirely a parody work, it stretches themes and tropes in a humorous way.

It isn't a literary masterpiece, but this was one of the most entertaining books I've read. I recognize that entertainment is a highly subjective metric, and its value will probably change upon rereading, but how else should you rate a book? Classicism can only go so far—a story has to be practical; it has to be enjoyable. Snow Crash was like a witty action movie—one that wasn't so obvious.

4.9 stars.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

It is certainly not a story for “entertainment” (unlike Snow Crash), otherwise I'd consider it to be poorly structured. This book is meant as an allegory, one that has clearly resonated with many people.

At first it seemed like it would be anti-socialist propaganda, but upon completion this was not the case (though it is anti-Soviet). Interestingly, as with Animal Farm, the state is depicted as evil because it has strayed from its stated intentions, now made to sustain social and economic inequality. Perhaps this in itself is a criticism of socialism—that a centralized power is easy to subvert—which I think is legitimate, but what makes the setting dystopian is the extreme capitalist characteristics—not in the sense of laissez-faire, but hierarchy; the state has a monopoly. Perhaps this interpretation is a bit off the mark, but I find it intriguing (Orwell did call himself a democratic socialist).

4.6 stars.