Literature / Mona Lisa Overdrive

Mona Lisa Overdrive is the third novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy. Published in 1988, the book switches off between the interwoven stories of four different protagonists, who are each involved in a plot to kidnap famous sim-star Angie Mitchell: Mona, an innocent young prostitute; Kumiko, the daughter of a Yakuza businessman, Slick Henry, an ex-convict computer hacker turned junk artist; and Angie herself, who has the unique power to enter the Matrix without a computer. Characters who return from the first two books include Angie and Bobby Newmark (from Count Zero), Molly from Neuromancer (now called Sally Shears), and the Finn, from both (well, sort of).

Mona Lisa Overdrive provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Molly/Sally Shears, as usual
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Gentry, Slick's landlord.
  • Asshole Victim: Eddy, Mona’s abusive boyfriend/pimp. Also Little Bird, Slick’s racist comrade.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Molly reminisces about fighting under the name 'Misty Steele'.
  • Badass: Molly/Sally Shears—if possible, even moreso than in Neuromancer.
    • Retired Badass: She quit doing Runs and bought a German casino some time ago, and gave up her Blood Sport "hobby" five years ago. Then someone dug up some dirt on her and blackmailed her into one more job.
  • The Butler Did It: Almost all of the plot threads features a suspicious butler-like figure, who, shockingly, turns out to have shady motives. Kumiko has Petal, Mona has Prior, Angie has Swift.
  • Camp Gay: Porphyre, Angie's hairdresser, who is no longer on speaking terms with the guy who usually plays her boyfriend.
  • Cyberpunk
  • Cyberspace
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Subverted; Mona realizes that her captors consider her this, escapes, and winds up playing a significant role in the story.
  • Expy: Tick replaces the Finn as the new eccentric software dealer (since the Finn himself isn’t exactly in a position to do so anymore…)
  • Genre Savvy: What saves Mona from becoming a Disposable Sex Worker.
  • Girl Friday: Cherry Chesterfield, the sassy nurse working with Slick and Gentry to take care of Bobby’s unconscious body.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Averted and lampshaded. Angie is a Voodoo practitioner (sort of) and her chapters refer to a lot of obscure concepts and entities associated with Voodoo. When Porphyre (sarcastically) describes Voodoo along much more stereotypical lines, Angie notes that he should know better.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Mona.
  • Mafia Princess: Kumiko
  • Snuff Film: Mona assumes she's being prepared for one of these when she's given plastic surgery to look like Angie Mitchell rather than as a decoy to replace the real one.
  • Time Skip: It’s been several years since ‘’Count Zero,’’ and well over a decade since ‘’Neuromancer,’’ such that the characters who do return have changed drastically; Angie Mitchell is now a sim-stim superstar; Bobby Newmark has married her, divorced her, and gone missing; Molly has changed her name to Sally Shears, and fills an older-mentor role rather than a sidekick one; and the Finn has died, but left behind an A.I. construct of himself.
    Finn: "Case? Last I heard he was married with some kids."
  • Virtual Ghost: The Finn has become one, as has Lady 3Jane. In the end both Bobby and Angie end up that way as well.
  • Unreveal: Molly/Sally’s eyes are still never seen.