Friday, March 4, 2016

Hugo Winner 2007: Rainbows End

Vernor Vinge
Completed 3/2013, reviewed 4/16/2013
2 stars

(Warning:  This review has some spoilers)

I did not like this book.  I found it overly wrought.  All of the characters have serious issues.  Most significantly, the main character, Robert Gu, is simply annoying.  Granted, he’s recovered from Alzheimer’s because of a futuristic cure.  But he is so extremely bitter about his past, his divorce, his children, society, and life, that you can’t really like him.  The only aspect of him I did like was his luddite-ness.  I could relate to his disdain of technology.  However, it was really just another brick in his wall of abrasiveness.  There were times when I could almost relate to him, but then the scene would quickly change and would return to just being annoyed with him.

One aspect of Gu’s character which could have been redeeming was his relationships with his granddaughter and the young teen who is his class project partner.  Unfortunately, his grouchiness prevents the relationships from growing at would seem to me to be normal rates through a novel.  Instead, he has his metanoia so close to the end, that when it happens, I didn’t believe it.

The overriding plot is a massive global conspiracy being perpetrated by a scientist who is double-crossing his colleagues.  His plot begins rather interestingly, but quickly becomes overly complex.  I found myself really bored whenever the story returned to the scientist, because I just didn’t really care about the angst that was driving his motivation.  At some point, his plot involved using a subplot of sabotage instigated by Gu and some of his old academic acquaintences.  But I never fully realized how it really related to the scientist’s plot.

One thing I did like about book was the complex blending of the campus demonstration and the sabotage by Gu and his academic gang.  Its vivid blending of the concrete and virtual reality was quite fun and surprising.  I won’t give it away here, but it was the only bright spot in this tedious book.  However, when it was over, I still couldn’t see how it was supposed to have furthered the crazy scientists plot.

Another unfortunate aspect of this book is that it is the first of a series.  What disappointed me the most was that we don’t find out who the White Rabbit is.  Clearly, s/he is needed for future books in the series, but since I didn’t really care that the crazy scientist’s evil plot was thwarted, or that Gu’s bitterness was beginning to lessen, not revealing the identity of the rabbit made the ending of this book quite unsatisfying.

I gave this book two stars for the strength of the technology wonder devised for the story.  

1 comment:

  1. Yours is the second negative review I've seen from a blog I follow about this book. It's one of my remaining non-read Hugo winners, so I'm going to read it at some point. It sounds disappointing though :(.