My first impression after reading William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic was that although the story’s sci-fi/film noir style gave it a very dark and interesting feel, the lack of personality in all of the character sucked a lot of life out of the story overall.
I was never really a huge fan of applying film noir to different genres; I think it was cool in watchmen and I it generally makes for an interesting story, but I’ve seen it used so many times in so many different genres, it almost feels like a cliché by itself. That’s the feeling I got with Johnny Mnemonic; the dark atmosphere that the story created was interesting at first, but it didn’t hold my interest for very long. Part of what bothered me so much about the style was the way the author tended to jump around for story point to story point with minimal explanation. It made the story just confusing enough to be a bit of a pain to read.
My biggest problem with Johnny Mnemonic, however, was the characters. Johnny, the main character was my least favorite. I liked that he went through an arc during the story – that by the end of his adventure he had gained a new perspective and become a different person, however I didn’t really feel myself caring very much about him. The biggest reason for this was most of the events that took place in the story were neither triggered by him, nor affected by him; his only real “act” in the story was making the shotgun, and his efforts were completely negated as soon as the other characters were introduced.
The other characters were interesting in the ways that the helped move the story along; I liked the female assassin with the knife nails and the faceless businessman with the diamond-twine finger. But they all seemed to lack personality, and this is really what draws me to novels and to stories in general.
I did like the talking dolphin man.