Saturday, March 15, 2008
Almost from the beginning this book reminded me of Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson. The themes were similar. My problem with Snow Crash was that the characters were two-dimensional and were always the best at whatever they did. Hiro was the best hacker, YT was the best Kourier, Juanita was the best at expressions, Raven was the best badass, etc. In Not the End of the World, the characters are divided into the good guys (atheists) and the bad guys (Christians) or heroes and sheep. And other than a few brief stereotypes, that's all you get in the story.
The book would have been better overall if the characters had been more real - in my opinion anyway. But then I tend to go for more realism these days in the world of fantasy, which is in its own way a dichotomy. I find more and more that the stories I read moves the characters along too fortuitously, but maybe I'm just nit picking.
Not the End of the World shared not just the same two dimensionalism of characters with Snow Crash, but the same theme. A loony man seeks to take over the world by causing an apocalypse. But Snow Crash gave me something to think about afterwards.
My issues with Not the End of the World started with Maddy's sacrifice. There's no way that the police would go along with it (unless it was going to be fake from the beginning). There's no way that the public at large would believe that they would. The bomber was left with a perfect scenario that was far, far from perfect. I just couldn't continue to buy the book after that scenario unfolded. As much as I liked Maddy, and to some extent Steff, I couldn't see them as heroes. It was like setting up a cardboard cutout and expecting me to believe they were actors in a play.
But there were some fun interjections by the author throughout the book that made it readable. And while his caricatures largely ruined the book for me, I think there was potential for a good story in there. And I'm not too unhappy about the atheists saving the day.