I decided to read Snow Crash because it's the book that inspired Zuck's term 'Metaverse'. I thought it would be intriguing to read a book whose concepts prompted a billionaire to rename his company.
Snow Crash largely centers around a virus whose name is the title of the book and the conspiracy that surrounds it. The virus is not your typical virus because it can, through direct physical infection, open up the gateway for an individual to hack the brains of those around them and essentially control their actions using memes. The big wrinkle is that those who program do not need to be exposed to the virus to be affected by it.
The book's setting is a collapsed America still addicted to convenience and the internet, where tribalism has become a strength and a bulwark against a society whose most organized predators vie for control over what is left, and pseudo-religion finds some kind of root in the physical.
There is a surprising amount of ancient society history bordering on the same vibe as the guy from Ancient Aliens but with more guns, swords, and cyberpunk skateboard spies. I really liked just about everything about the book, even down to the name of the protagonist, "Hiro Protagonist".
It does beg the question, why did Mark name the Metaverse the Metaverse when by the end of the book, I had decided I would not plug myself into anything remotely like it? It does not paint the virtual and often augmented reality that the technology brings to the masses. In fact, a lot of the economy in the new society is based on information gathering and pizza delivery, the latter of which gives rise to individuals who are referred to as gargoyles. Don't get me wrong, the whole concept is very entertaining and worth the read, but not something I would actually want to live through. It is a book that by halfway through, you still do not know where you are about to end up.
My one major critique of the whole thing, and something I could have largely done without, is the oversexualization of Y.T. The character is great and an enjoyable addition to the cast, but there is this running thread of her sex drive or her awareness of her own attractiveness, including a very brief sex scene. This in and of itself is not something new to literature, but the context of a 15-year-old being involved in this is just a big "eww".
Short and sweet: I would recommend this book. Skip the Y.T. sex stuff, and the book is a strange romp through a surreal America where Mad Max meets Blade Runner meets Johnny Mnemonic. In fact, it would not surprise me if Johnny Mnemonic and Snow Crash shared some kind of inspirational ancestor.