Customer Reviews


49 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (9)
1 star:
 (6)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No time like the present
I picked this book up from a second-hand stall to take on a trip to New York (which is the location for much of its action). I've enjoyed a fair number of Gibson's science fiction books - most recently his excellent Burning Chrome collection - but this time I've read one of his novels which has a contemporary setting.

That setting is hard to discern at first,...
Published on 23 Nov. 2011 by Jeremy Walton

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I have read all of William Gibson's books, since back when he was writing about a dystopian future heavily influenced by Japanese culture.

Some of the old Gibson is still there in this book, like separate characters converging at the end. However, the plot is thin & weak, and characters are just wandering in and out of rooms and cities without much to do or...
Published on 19 April 2008 by Z de MC


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No time like the present, 23 Nov. 2011
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
I picked this book up from a second-hand stall to take on a trip to New York (which is the location for much of its action). I've enjoyed a fair number of Gibson's science fiction books - most recently his excellent Burning Chrome collection - but this time I've read one of his novels which has a contemporary setting.

That setting is hard to discern at first, as Gibson writes about the present in the same way he writes about the future - as a uneasy, unfamiliar world of hidden meanings and secrets underpinned by a technology which has been put to new and unexpected uses. It's a world where practitioners of locative art create installations in public places that can only be seen by wearers of VR headsets, where iPods are used as mules to smuggle mysterious data to Cuba and back again, and where a container is tracked from ship to ship at sea over a period of many years. A persistent - but quietly stated - underlying theme of the story is post-9/11 espionage, although much of the writing is timeless: for example, there are some memorable bon-mots (e.g. "secrets are the the very root of cool") and noteworthy and insightful technological asides such as this one (p120):

"Organized religion, he saw [...], had been purely a signal-to-noise proposition, at once the medium and the message, a one-channel universe. For Europe, that channel was Christian, and broadcasting from Rome, but nothing could be broadcast faster than a man could travel on horseback. There was a hierarchy in place, and a highly organized methodology of top-down signal dissemination, but the the time lag enforced by tech-lack imposed a near-disastrous ratio, the noise of heresy constantly threatening to overwhelm the signal."

The story unfolds at a leisurely pace as it follows journalist Hollis Henry on the trail of locative artist Bobby Chombo in LA, a young Cuban called Tito and a shadowy old man in New York, and Brown the secret agent who's forcing a drug addict called Milgrim to do his Russian translation for him. The climax brings all parties together in a more-or-less satisfactory conclusion, but the real value of the story lies in the journey up to that point.

Finally, it should be mentioned that this is the second part of Gibson's so-called Blue Ant trilogy, in which it's sandwiched between - and shares some characters with - Pattern Recognition and Zero History, but I wasn't conscious of missing anything owing to not having (yet) read those other two books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, But Less Kinetic, Fictional Exploration Of Our Time From William Gibson, 9 Aug. 2008
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
There's probably no one else I can think of who can write so vividly, and inquisitively, about our contemporary techno-psychological landscape than William Gibson. His 2003 novel "Pattern Recognition" remains among the best - if not the best (of which I am certain) - fictional depiction of American media-obsessed culture in the aftermath of 9/11. It was also his best novel in years, a riveting techno-thriller about "cool hunter" Cayce Pollard's search for the mysterious internet "The Footage" which had acquired a most bizarre cult-like status amongst Internet lurkers. "Spook Country", Gibson's latest novel, is a sequel of sorts, introducing us once more to the enigmatic Belgian advertising mogul Hubertus Bigend, owner of Big Ant advertising firm. This time he sends another young woman, Hollis Henry, an investigative journalist for Node - a magazine which doesn't exist yet - on a rather mundane quest to find one Bobby Chombo, a "producer", whose day job involves checking out military navigation gear. We encounter her, early one morning, in a Los Angeles hotel room, on assignment for Node, collecting information on the local underground artistic movement of virtual reality-based "locative art" for an article in the nascent magazine's debut issue. In classic William Gibson literary mode, there are two other subplots which represent other, still larger, pieces of the puzzle that Henry is seeking to solve, involving Tito, a young Cuban Chinese New Yorker whose family has had intelligence ties to both the CIA and KGB, and the Russian-speaking junkie Milgrim, addicted to expensive prescription high-anxiety drugs, who finds himself quite literally, "joined to the hip" with his pharmaceutical benefactor, the mysterious Brown, someone who has some hidden ties to a military, most likely Russia's.

Looming over this entire fictional landscape is of course Hubertus Bigend himself, who doesn't appear until the end of the first third of "Spook Country". Here, more so than "Pattern Recognition", he comes across as some omniscient "Intelligent Designer", orchestrating the events as they unfold, with the other principal characters - especially Hollis, herself - acting as puppets in some vast marionette theater of his own uniquely Byzantine design. We will learn that Bigend has chosen Henry for his mission since she's a former member of the rock band The Curfew, which, apparently, has had ties to Bobby Chombo. There's a memorable chase scene that plays out along the sidewalks - and one restaurant - of New York City's Union Square (New York City finally makes its literary debut in a Gibson novel, and to his credit, Gibson does a splendid job depicting its unique urban rhythms.). Eventually, the three plot lines converge and intersect, in an ornate, yet tidy, resolution in Gibson's hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia (The Canadian seaport, like New York City, also makes its literary debut in a Gibson novel.). There are references of course to contemporary events, such as the American occupation of Iraq, but Gibson presents them as if they were the literary equivalent of a GOOGLE search, allowing the reader to decide their relevant significance to the novel's unfolding events in a decidedly neutral manner.

"Spook Country" is definitely not one of William Gibson's best novels, but an inferior novel from him is still far more fascinating than many best novels I have read from other, lesser novelists who lack his uncanny ability to depict in hallucinatory, lyrical prose, our Internet-dominated culture (It's an artistic trait I'd expect from the same writer who coined the term "cyberspace" years ago, before the Internet was created as the central, unifying information repository of our time.). It is still one of the best literary achievements in fiction published this year, and one that is artistically, if not stylistically, similar to the themes explored by Rick Moody in his recently published novella collection "Right Livelihoods". Along with "Right Livelihoods", "Spook Country" is the most compelling piece of newly published fiction I have read this summer. Without question, it is still a memorable novel from someone whom I regard as the most important writer of our time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars GIBSON FINALLY FINDS HIS STRIDE AGAIN, 27 Sept. 2007
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
I am a huge William Gibson fun, since my university years. I believe his SPRAWL Trilogy to be a strong English Literature Cannon candidate - and, undoubtedly, the Gospel of Science Fiction of our generation.

His next trilogy, however, (Virtual Light, Idoru & All Tomorrow's Parties) took an abrupt downturn after the first book of the series. I will not go into the reasons I did not find them to work at par with his previous monumental works; after all, this is not their review.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when my loyalty (finally...) paid off! SPOOK COUNTRY is a BEAUTIFUL book!

If one is hoping to find a fast-paced SF techno-thriller or a page-turner gore-fest, well, this is not the book to pick. Try Richard Morgan instead.
Even since his more action-conscious Neuromancer, William Gibson had always been a subtle writer; his poetic words painting a stroke here and then a stroke there - until his reductionist prose reveals a magic vista of the human condition no one has put to words before.

Be patient with his books. Short chapters, phrasal fragments, unusual word-hacking and turning brand-names into verbs have always been his functional style. And, boy, does his style function!
Long after you will have finished the last page, the imagery will stay with you. Popping up unexpectedly, in the foam of your next Frappuchino; in your car GPS voice; in the site of a spyhopping orca.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 19 April 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
I have read all of William Gibson's books, since back when he was writing about a dystopian future heavily influenced by Japanese culture.

Some of the old Gibson is still there in this book, like separate characters converging at the end. However, the plot is thin & weak, and characters are just wandering in and out of rooms and cities without much to do or even say.

All we learn in the first 300 pages is that there is a container on a ship somewhere that interests a lot of people. It is only in the last 30 pages or so that things develop from there, when one of the shady characters decides to confide in our heroine (whom he has never seen before - huh?) and finally tells her (and us) what is going on. So now we know what is in the container and why these guys are after it, and the book ends soon afterwards. OK then.

The only character that is remotely interesting is the junkie, whose contribution to the plot is translating several sentences from a form of written Russian in latin alphabet. He is the only one with a credible inner world, thoughts and ideas. Gibson actually uses him on several occasions to voice his own thoughts on US stance on torture (blurted out when he was high), war on Iraq, etc.

In all, a disappointing book for those of us who know about Gibson's masterpieces. Perhaps he is getting old. Or maybe he should go back to writing about the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Technosnoozer, 7 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
Like some other readers, I was pretty bored by this one - and I'm a Gibson fan, or was... I did love locative art and viral-only Blue Ant and the idea of the container. But the drug-dependency has been done before, not least in Neuromancer itself and The Curfew never came alive for me. I wonder if it's that, in telling the story, Gibson has left aside his original sassy omniscient tech-powered voice for three low-level points-of-view full of interiority ('As he ate, he thought about the twelfth-century heresy of the Free Spirit.'), physical and domestic minutiae ('He missed his overcoat'), dream-sequences (snooze) and sub- style-mag descriptions ('the sky had a Turner-on-crack intensity'). I found Hollis admittedly more interesting than Milgrim or Tito. Other characters are inconsistent - Odile, for instance, can sometimes barely speak English, at other times she's happy to launch into Gibsonesque riffs like, 'Cartographic attributes of the invisible. Spatially tagged hypermedia.' Worst of all, I felt a desperate lack of action, pace, sex and drama. What kept me going, as usual, were the marginal asides, like 'Trope Slope, our viral pitchman platform' and the 'projected faux-Islamic squiggles of the carpet-of-light device' - great! But maybe not enough to make me bother with his next one?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Squirrels, 6 Aug. 2012
By 
GelS (Walton-on-Thames, Surrey) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
I've just finished this (my latest) William Gibson tale and loved it. His departure from the 'cyberpunk' genre in 'Pattern Recognition' is continued in this intriguing story; some of which follows 'Pattern Recognition,' but not as a sequel. 'Spook Country' is a refreshing tour of the USA with the usual, imaginative Gibson take on technology involved in, but not central to, the plot. It's probably too challenging to state a full synopsis of an ex- punk rocker trying to establish a new career as a journalist, simply because of the parallel sub-plots that fill out the story in a fascinating way. It has humour and a somewhat cynical view of life in the States, wrapped in a plot that grabbed my attention from the start and held it to the satisfying end. Gibson's mastery of the English language, as always, is a delight.

I loved it, especially having enjoyed 'Pattern Recognition' shortly before. I'd recommend 'Pattern Recognition' first to give added depth, but it's by no means essential: 'Spook Country' can stand on its own merits perfectly well. I'm looking forward to moving on to 'Mona Lisa Overdrive' next as a return to the original sci-fi series (it's in my Kindle already).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Gibson, 3 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
It took me a few chapters to really get into this but once I did I found it hard to put down. As usual with Gibson, he comes up with some cultural movements that I hadn't been aware of until I picked the book up: guerrilla marketing in Pattern Recognition and this time locative art. Technological trends aside, Gibson has a wonderful way with language. His sentences tend to be punchy like Raymond Chandler but far more poetic at the same time. I could really just read this book for his use of words- the plot is just extra icing on top. I can picture each scene with a cinema type clarity that few other authors achieve (for me at least) I love the little details he gives us. GSG-9 Adidas swat shoes? How cool. Only little quibble: covert ear pieces as used by the likes of Brown do not have wires attached to them. They work on induction loops like modern hearing aides and have done so for many years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, thoughtful reading, but lacking zing, 28 April 2009
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
Okay, this novel is something of a departure from Gibson's better known (and excellent) cyberpunk "Sprawl" novels. It's difficult to compare them across genres, although his writing hasn't changed a great deal and his habit of running a number of parallel stories until the final denouement continues, but I think it's fair to say that this isn't in the same league.

On the one hand it's obviously a well written book, is well timed in terms of global events and is an encouragingly cynical take on modern political intrigues. It also has, in Tito, an entertainingly unique character who I found genuinely compelling and would love to have seen more of.

On the other hand, the thoughful storyline lacks any real sense of urgency, zip or zing. It meanders to a neat, worthy, uninspirational conclusion. There is no sense of consequence and no sense of villainy which, although more of a crude instrument, would probably have served to make me feel more engaged with the whole thing.

So in the end I've subtracted a star for swapping literary worthiness for some excitement!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ideas and style - yes - plot and characters - no, 1 Jan. 2008
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
Hollis is an rock star turned journalist looking to break a story for a mysterious new employer. Tito is an ethnically complex scion of a family with links into the cuban (and other) secret services. He is employed to pass iPods containing complex data to a mysterious old man. Milgrim has been kidnapped by the shady Brown, who may or may not be part of the US secret service, to decifer texts between Tito and his family. In the background Hubertus Bigend, reappearing from Pattern Recognition, is pulling strings. All have links to a mysterious container travelling the world's shipping lanes.

While there is complexity in the plot, the actual narrative drive is extremly thin and loose ends are left hanging all over the place. Also the characters are focii for Gibsons ideas rather than flesh and blood people.

But that said, does one read Gibson for depth of characterisation, well not really.

Gibsons strengths of snappy prose, of reflecting comtemporary socity, and of generating ideas are really to the fore here. He is in playful mood, deliberately referencing Count Zero, and introducing the idea of Cyberspace turning itself inside out.

This book is really a fairly thin technological thriller which sits on top of an interesting description of and extrapolation from a networked, branded society.

Not great, but well worth reading
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars It finished and I was wondering if I had missed the story?, 23 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
Exactly, I got the to the end of the book and genuinely wondered if I had just read a really long assay. Where was the story, the fabulous twist? I work in marketing and branding and I can tell you, Gibson's 'insightful' musing on how we interact with branding - I truly missed that one unless you are referring to Bigend explaining that a Phaeton can be mistaken for a Jetta at a distance...

I will compare this with his earlier works of which I am a true fan, not a shade. As for Zero History, I will put that on a gift list so at least it is not my money that will be wasted. Neuromancer is my favourite for reasons the characters are way more believable, interesting and you genuinely care for them. I could not relate to any of the characters in this book and frankly couldn't care less if any of them got killed.

Sorry, but I was genuinely disappointed. So much so I left the book on the share-shelf in the hotel in Egypt I was staying in when I read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Spook Country
Spook Country by William Gibson (Paperback - 28 July 2011)
£8.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews