Aside from several dry, lengthy passages on reinterpretations of Sumerian mythology, this is a genuinely fun read. Stephenson writes great action scenes, his characters are larger than life, and his ideas leave you with plenty to think about.
Finally, a cyberpunk novel I really liked! Stephenson's story is intelligent and funny, introducing a futuristic America that is warped but believable. An example? Hitchhiking high speed skaters that attach themselves to moving vehicles with metallic/electronic detachable hooks, enabling them to choose a vehicle moving at the speed and in the direction the hiker wants to travel and easily switch over to a new and better 'victim' whenever necessary. And, Stephenson is able to make me care about what happens to his characters. I find that unusually refreshing in such a techno-novel; usually characters in cyberspace stories seem to me to be detached and remote from the reader.
Our hero is named, appropriately enough, Hiro Protagonist, and he has the requisite antisocial coolness and attitude to fit into this genre comfortably yet still manages not to alienate the reader. I could identify and sympathize with his situations and really root for him.
I wish Neal Stephenson would write more adventures of Hiro and his virtual and real worlds.
Please read this damn book. Please.
Not only is this a really entertaining read, but I was amazed at how well the virtual computer world descriptions hold up, even 16 years after the book was written. A superb job by a very talented writer.
A little dated in my opinion but great if you're into Cyberpunk. A must read for fans of Gibson or Sterling. Stephenson is a great writer.