Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash

Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson
narrated by Jonathan Davis

SNOW CRASH. Where to begin? I guess with this: I don’t know if I should call Neal Stephenson really good at the craft of writing, or if I should say that he needs to learn how to edit his works better. Because while the story was well crafted, it was frankly too long. It needed some trimming. There were at least two or three times when he gave a recap of things that characters had done earlier in the book because they were long enough ago that they were actually needed in case we forgot.

But, he is also a great story-crafter. The imagery is amazing. It’s vivid and imaginative, and so very hard to remember that this was published in 1992. It’s now 2014, and the tech described in SNOW CRASH isn’t old and clunky and unbelievable. It was cyberpunk then, and it still manages to be cyberpunk now (though a little closer to reality than it was then).

However, there were some times when I got caught up in the imagery and had no idea where the plot was, if it was even present at all. There are entire scenes that I’ve loved listening to, but didn’t seem to advance the plot at all. This is my first Neal Stephenson book, so I don’t know if this is a common occurrence in his works, or if it’s just this one. Also, since it’s an audiobook and going back to reference prior chapters is difficult in this format, I also don’t know if most of these seemingly unneeded sections truly are unneeded, or if the connection to the plot just was hidden instead of obvious.

In the same way, listening to the audio version of this book might not have been the best choice as far as overall comprehension goes. Mr. Wyrm has read other Stephenson books, and said that he will often put the novel down to do some research on the subject matter before continuing. This is a really good idea, but a really BAD idea when you are listening to the book on your commute. Still, I do enjoy the narrator, (Jonathan Davis). He’s great at the different accents used among the various ethnicities, and rattles off some complicated words without difficulty (except where there’s supposed to be said difficulty). So, good narrator, but perhaps a bad choice of book to listen to as opposed to read. (Assuming you have the option, of course.)

Will I be reading more Stephenson? Yes, probably. But I will be reading it for myself, because no matter how well narrated this one was (very), it’s too hard to stop an audio-book mid-paragraph and reference something said a couple chapters ago. Yes, there are bookmark options for audiobooks in the Audible app. Yes, I could theoretically search for things. But it would be dumb to do while I was driving, and by the time I get home I’ve forgotten what I wanted to look up. So while I will certainly look at the other books Jonathan Davis’ has read, I will not be getting any more by Stephenson. This book would have benefited more from the ability for me to focus more completely on it, rather than multi-tasking (which is what I use audiobooks for).


One thought on “Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash

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  1. He needs a brutal editor. I made it through this one and the nanotech one ok, but Cryptonomicon about killed me – and I had to read it for my MS thesis, so there was no dnfing it.

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