Review: The Peripheral

The Peripheral
The Peripheral by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#SciFiSummerJune
Book #29 for 2016
PopSugar Challenge Category:
– A romance set in the future
(view spoiler)

It took me just about the entire Seasons of Reading #SciFiSummerJune read-a-thon week to read this book, though I did manage to at least start reading Jo Walton’s My Real Children before the week was done. This was a Strange Worlds selection a few months ago, and I had started it then, but I pretty much had to re-read the beginning this time around. I’d never read any Gibson before, but I gather he is fond of dumping the reader in at the deep end with neither flotation devices nor any regard for swimming ability. It was good to re-read the first 50 pages or so, because the first time I was too busy flailing around in the water to really appreciate the worlds Gibson was setting up.

Most of my Strange Worlds friends didn’t really care for this book, but once I got the basic premise settled in my brain, I had a lot of fun reading it. Having grown up in Redneckland, I picked up right away on the Winter’s Bone vibe of the stub, and I think that helped me get what Gibson was going for with those characters. I suspect most readers dismiss them as flat and undeveloped, but I totally know these people. And yeah, that’s really how we talk. I will agree that there were a few too many to keep real good track of with all the action, but that actually amused me at the end(view spoiler). Aside: Hiding spoilers makes for wonky punctuation.

As much as I enjoyed the book, it’s certainly not without its problems. The mystery plot, supposedly the whole reason Lowbeer became aware of the stub in the first place, was thin and overly convoluted. Of course, Lowbeer quickly developed her own agenda, so some of that made a certain amount of sense, but I was ultimately disappointed that Gibson didn’t explore that more when he had the chance. (Sorry to be so vague, but I don’t want to hide the entire review.) And did anybody else think the cube thing at the end was just anticlimactic af?

Despite the flaws in the storytelling, I found myself really appreciating Gibson’s take on how reality is all about perspective and choice and the illusion thereof. Most of the devices he used (telepresence, avatars, alternate timelines, et cetera) were not at all original, and there was a great deal of hand-wavy suspension of disbelief required, but he brought them together in a compelling and thought-provoking way.

I’d recommend this with some reservations. It takes a lot of patience just to get to the point where you can decide whether or not you’re actually liking it, so unless you’re a big Gibson fan, don’t pick this up for a bit of light reading.

View all my reviews

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