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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
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Mona Lisa Overdrive (original 1988; edition 1989)

by William Gibson

Series: Sprawl (3)

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5,24731845 (3.76)50
Member:griffey
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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English (29)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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 |
Mona Lisa Overdrive is the third book in Gibson's Sprawl trilogy, and it's the most fully-realized of the three. The plots of Neuromancer and Count Zero followed the same pattern, and Count Zero really only served as a bridge between the first and third books. Mona Lisa Overdrive flips back and forth between four subplots which weave together nicely, both with each other and with the previous two books. The characters start to matter a little more and feel more like real people than 2D plot-puppets. Having seen how it all ends, I think it might be worth revisiting Neuromancer someday to view it with more experienced eyes. ( )
  BrookeAshley | May 20, 2013 |
I didn’t realize that this was part three of a trilogy when I originally picked this up, and there was a major sigh of relief when I found out that technically all three entries in the Sprawl trilogy can be read as standalone. Which is interesting, because as I read this one, it did feel like a spin-off dealing with the fallout of Neuromancer. There are some parts that I wasn’t as filled in on, but these two books work together for me.

Mona Lisa Overdrive was a lot easier for me to get into. The writing’s more streamlined, and the plot felt more concise. I liked how Gibson structured four unseemingly connected story arcs into one web of mystery. I liked the expansion on the world-building and the new elements to the cyber world. The addition of Haitian voundon as a way to access the matrix and cyberspace was a fantastic touch, and I loved the sense of otherworldliness it gave to the plot.

The characters were handled a little better here. I do think that the four major female leads do start off as being really passive. Kumiko, Angie and Mona don’t really do much, save for being carted off to different locales by their respective handlers. Cherry’s a little more proactive as she’s a medtech, but she stays in the background for the majority of Slick’s arc until Bobby needs her—and even then, Slick takes on the bigger perspective role in that particular arc. I like that Kumiko picks up on the fact that she’s being used for shady dealings, and tries to figure out what’s going on, although she’s more or less prompted to by Colin. Angie and Mona were probably the most interesting characters for me, but they really don’t do anything in the book, aside from being MacGuffins. I did like Molly/Sally in this a lot better—she’s not as much as a focus character, but more of an enigma in Kumiko’s eyes. This is where I think that Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive work really well as a duology: we’re picking up Molly’s storyline a few years down the road, and dealing with the fallout of the events of the first book.

The descriptions and setting really picked up in this. I loved reading Kumiko’s reaction to landing in England for the first time, and how cold and impersonal everything feels to her. The parts with Slick and his crew was some of the best descriptions in the book—I loved seeing the grungey, scraping to get by scenes.

I did like this book, but I can’t get past the passive nature of most of the perspective characters, and like with Neuromancer, I got to the end and thought, “What the hell just happened?” (Again, I do need to read Count Zero, because I know I missed something between the two books.) Still, I enjoyed it a lot more that Neuromancer, and it actually does read as a decent standalone book.
( )
  princess-starr | Mar 31, 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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Epigraph
Dedication
To my sister,
Fran Gibson,
with amazement and love...
First words
The ghost was her father's parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a departure lounge at Narita.
Quotations
The world hadn't ever had so many moving parts or so few labels. [Mona: 231]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:20 -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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