Zodiac is the first book I’ve read by Neal Stephenson, an author I see mentioned fairly often, often with mixed reviews. My own reaction to this particular book is a little mixed.
The title, Zodiac, refers to a type of motorized raft the characters used. The story is set in Boston and is told from the first-person perspective of a character who tries to catch, publicize, and prevent corporations from dumping toxic chemicals into the Boston Harbor. Naturally the big, powerful corporation people aren’t happy and don’t take his interference lying down.
The book is probably better classified as a Thriller than as Science Fiction. There was at least one small science fiction element but, for the most part, it seemed entirely based on technology and scientific knowledge from the 1980’s, when the book was published. There’s a decent amount of science, usually explained well enough for the layman to understand, and I never felt like I was reading infodumps. I learned some things, and I liked that.
On the other hand, the story itself just wasn’t that appealing to me. Since the book is more story-driven than character-driven, it was hard to be too enthusiastic about it if I wasn’t enthusiastic about the story itself. I liked the main character well enough, but I never felt attached, and I didn’t feel much interest in the other characters at all.
As far as entertainment level, this was pretty middle-of-the-road for me. There were parts when I did feel more eager to learn what would happen next but, mostly, I didn’t feel any compulsion to keep reading when I had other things to do. Fortunately, this was a pretty short book. If it had been stretched out into a longer book, I might have had more trouble making it to the end.
I’ll be continuing on to the fourth Temeraire book with Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik.