Snow Crash Review

Snow Crash Review

I went into Snow Crash with no knowledge other than everyone who reads Neuromancer and likes it is recommended Snow Crash. I suspect the opposite is also true. Having read both I can see why that is the case even though I do find them different for the most part. There is a lot of cross-over when it comes to the virtual reality and sci-fi aspects. The difference is I find Neuromancer takes itself a bit more seriously and the story is generally harder to follow. Not only in themes but context as well. It’s hard to tell where you are and what is going on in Neuromancer. “The Matrix” in Neuromancer is far more of an abstract idea whereas the VR world in Snow Crash is much more like modern VR is to us.

I was chatting with my friend about Snow Crash and I say how it's really impressive how Neal Stephenson was able to write so many aspects about VR as we know it before it even existed. I then right away realized he didn’t predict it but wrote the blueprint for it. The people making these VR spaces are those who have read Neuromancer and Snow Crash. It was a really cool juxtaposition of my thinking. When the context was better adapted I respected both works even more.

Where Snow Crash differs from Neuromancer is how it is a much easier read. Things flow naturally, it’s never difficult to tell where you are, the higher concepts of religion and languages are presented slowly, and the whole book itself is very “Hollywood”. What I mean by this is there is a lot of in-your-face visuals and action to keep the slower readers entertained between the actually interesting parts. Interesting parts like when they dive into how language affects an individual's psychology. I found these parts as exciting as the VR sword fights.

This is a story that truly needs to have a movie adaptation. I think an adaptation to Snow Crash would be more interesting or I should say easier to do than Neuromancer. I like Neuromancer more for its deeper themes and a more gritty world but Snow Crash would make a great movie that I think more people would enjoy. The book I would more closely compare Snow Crash to is Ready Player One. I read Ready Player One way back when it came out and was making the nerd recommendation rounds. When I first read it I loved it. I read it again when the movie was close to coming out and I still enjoyed it. Then I watched the movie and I liked the movie. But weirdly enough over time, I started to dislike the movie and then in turn dislike the book overall too. Where Ready Player One is a little too nerdy and in your face, Snow Crash is cool and slick with VR samurai fights. It stays higher concept while also keeping it simple. It just feels less cringe.

Like most Sci-fi, it is carried more by the context of what’s happening and the themes presented rather than characters. There are a lot of characters with interesting personalities but they end up mostly being stereotypes compared to today's standards. The edgy skilled in hacking and swordsmanship main character, the spunky attractive young sidekick, and some racially stereotyped villains and side characters. I think there’s room to cut the characters down a little bit and round them out more. I also found the last quarter to 1/3 of the book clunky. Things seem to suddenly speed up and feel more rushed than exciting. Characters start doing things they wouldn’t do otherwise and there’s just a lot going on with a lot more characters and locations than I feel is needed.

Final Verdict

I gave Neuromancer a 10/10. That book blew my mind and I still think about parts of it. Snow Crash is great and has a lot going for it but it is far from a 10/10. To me, it is the superior Ready Player One with more room to tweak and adapt. I give Snow Crash a solid 6.8/10.