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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive (original 1988; edition 1989)

by William Gibson

Series: Sprawl (3)

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5,40731802 (3.77)51
Title:Mona Lisa Overdrive
Authors:William Gibson
Info:Spectra (1989), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson (1988)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
And the last of the Sprawl trilogy. You can see Gibson growing as a writer and you can see him knocking up against the limitations of cyberpunk - once you've left the meat behind and taken up residence in the matrix what is there for you to do? Yeah, he gives us an answer, but it's an answer that takes him out of his sphere of interest, out of the human, or even the post-human. Post-humanity's always been Bruce Sterling's thing, anyway. Gibson's fascination is with the present, the now, the fulcrum where people and technology turn and change and the wonderful, unexpected strangeness that is often utterly unpredictable.

Mona Lisa Overdrive - the Sprawl books have the best titles - rounds up the dangling threads from the first two books and weaves them together. Heck, it even gives Case an offhand happy ending. We have the daughter of a Yakuza boss sent to London for her own safety, where she meets a formidable woman with mirrors over her eyes, but not, apparently, retractable claws in her nails, which signifies some sort of growth and maturity, if not any actual aversion to swiftly delivered violence. Sally, Molly as was, is not and never has been and never will be a nice person. There is Mona, a sweet, naive, teenage junkie prostitute sold by her pimp to men who are interested in her resemblance to sim star Angie Mitchell. There's Angie Mitchell herself, saved by Turner in Count Zero, now a famous star just out of rehab. She used to be able to talk to the voodoo gods of cyberspace thanks to the bio-chips in her head, but they haven't come to her for years, and her boyfriend is missing and someone left drugs in her coat pocket. And Slick Henry, way out in the toxic junkyard of Dog Solitude, building his kinetic sculptures to deal with the prison program that leaves him susceptible to short-term memory loss, is asked by Kid Africa to look after a body wrapped in bandages and hooked up to a mysterious machine called an LF.

What's interesting is all the POV characters are innocents, even super-celebrity Angie. They've all suffered, used and abused by life, by others, by the system, by circumstances, and now forces they do not understand or comprehend are moving around them and coming for them, and often what saves them is their own lack of malice or cynicism. Others are mad, obsessive, violent and duplicitous, but these four just want to be themselves, whatever that might be.

A great book, a satisfying ending to a great, groundbreaking, decade-defining trilogy. These books are still the best way to re-experience the eighties, to remember the energy and the attitude, and, whatever bits of it we brought with us to the now, be glad they're left safely in the past. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I've come to discover that I really don't like William Gibson's writing. I know why. Part of it is just that it's uninteresting. Strikes me as someone *trying* to sound like a writer. The other--main--issue is that white guys who write books full of derogatory/racist names for non-whites strike me as very inauthentic. This book is filled with those. The "default" is never slagged, but any Asian or black person has a racist nickname. Latinos are lucky to have been completely ignored in this book, even though Mexico is mentioned.

Some people may not have an issue with this. I don't care.


The story is very interesting and could have been very good had it been tied up better. The last few chapters were a lot of meandering and tedious "cleverness" that is never worthwhile. Such a shame, because I thought of 4 different and interesting endings that would have worked well with the author's sort of "cleverness". ( )
  fabooj | Feb 3, 2015 |
Great novel by a true scifi genius!
  CowboyBeBib | Sep 18, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.

In a dilapidated section of New Jersey, Slick Henry makes large animated robotic sculptures out of scrap metal. He owes Kid Afrika a favor, so now he has to hide the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (aka “Count Zero”). Bobby is jacked into an Aleph where he’s got some secret project going on. A Cleveland girl named Cherry Chesterfield is Bobby’s nurse.

Kumiko is the daughter of a Japanese Yakuza crime boss. Her father has sent her to live in London while the Yakuza war is going on. There she meets Gibson’s most iconic character, Molly Millions, who’s going by the name Sally Shears. Molly is being blackmailed by Lady 3Jane, so Kumiko inadvertently gets dragged into the kidnapping plot.

Mona Lisa Overdrive contains several exciting action scenes which feature kidnappings, shoot-outs, helicopter escapes, remote-controlled robot warriors, collapsing catwalks, and falling refrigerators. These are loosely connected by the continuation and conclusion of the AI plot which began in Neuromancer. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the sketchy ending or the wacky reveal on the last page, but that’s okay. I was mainly reading Mona Lisa Overdrive for the style, anyway.

So much of Gibson’s style and success stems from the mesmerizing world he’s built — a future Earth in which national governments have been replaced by large biotech companies. Japan is modern and glitzy and much of the former United States has fallen into decay. By the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive (don’t even attempt to read it before reading both Neuromancer and Count Zero), you’re feeling rather comfortable (or as comfortable as is possible to feel) in this world, so the setting lacks the force it had in the previous novels. In Mona Lisa Overdrive, you’ll visit London, but it seems to be stuck in the 20th century, so it feels instantly (and a little disappointingly) familiar.

But Gibson manages to keep things fresh and highlight his unique style by introducing new characters and delving deep into their psyches. Even minor characters are works of art, such as Eddy, Mona’s low-class scheming pimp, and Little Bird, who earned that moniker because of his weird hairdo. Even when the plots don’t satisfy, it’s entertaining enough just to hang out with Gibson’s unforgettable characters. The exception is Kumiko, who has little personality and seems to exist mainly to remind us that Japan has surpassed America, and for an excuse to show us a new bit of cool technology (Colin, the chip-ghost).

In 1989, Mona Lisa Overdrive was nominated for, but did not win, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award. It lacks the impact of its prequels, but it’s still a stylish piece of work and not to be missed if you’re a fan of William Gibson. I listened to the audio version narrated by Jonathan Davis. He is excellent, as always, and I recommend this version to audio readers. You may have to work at Neuromancer on audio if you’re not familiar with this world and its slang, but by the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive, that problem is long gone. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Better than Count Zero, but not as good as Nueromancer. ( )
  Kurt.Rocourt | Jun 20, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gibson, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cormier,WillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häilä, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my sister,
Fran Gibson,
with amazement and love...
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The ghost was her father's parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a departure lounge at Narita.
The world hadn't ever had so many moving parts or so few labels. [Mona: 231]
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553281747, Mass Market Paperback)

Into the cyber-hip world of William Gibson comes Mona, a young girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. Since childhood, Angie has been able to tap into cyberspace without a computer. Now, from inside cyberspace, a kidnapping plot is masterminded by a phantom entity who has plans for Mona, Angie, and all humanity, plans that cannot be controlled...or even known. And behind the intrigue lurks the shadowy Yakuza, the powerful Japanese underworld, whose leaders ruthlessly manipulate people and events to suit their own purposes.

An over-the-top thrill ride sequel to Neuromancer and Count Zero.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Living in the vast computer landscape of cyberspace, young Mona taps into the mind of world-famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell who deciphers cyperspace plans, including those devised by Japanese underworld.

(summary from another edition)

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