Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Mona Lisa Overdrive

Go To
First Edition Cover

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson is the third novel in the 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 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:

  • Asshole Victim: Eddy, Mona’s abusive boyfriend/pimp. Also Little Bird, Slick’s racist comrade.
  • 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.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Subverted; Mona realizes that her captors consider her this, escapes, and winds up playing a significant role in the story.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Sally apparently fought in illegal blood matches for a while under the name 'Misty Steele'
    Sally: Gimme a break. Wasn't me made that one up.
  • 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…)
  • 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.
  • Mafia Princess: Kumiko is the daughter of not just a Yakuza boss, but the Yakuza boss.
    Kumiko: He is a man of high rank.
    Sally: (Shakes her head) Your old man, Kumi? He is it.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Mona undergoes plastic surgery that effectively turns her into a clone of Angie Mitchell. To the point of taking her place in the sims, with only Porphyre the wiser.
  • Rags to Riches: With the real Angie Mitchell's consent, Mona goes from a hooker who has to shower at swimming pool locker rooms to becoming jet-set superstar Angie Mitchell permanently.
  • Retired Badass: Molly/Sally Shears 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.
  • Scars are Forever: Downplayed. Molly/Sally has a long one on her belly after the match that got her to retire - her wired reflexes have slowed down as she's getting older and she almost died in that fight. When asked why she doesn't have it removed, she mentions she's keeping it to remind her that she's not as good a fighter as she used to be.
  • 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.
  • The Scrounger: Slick builds his art out of junk he finds.
  • 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 mellowed a bit, 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."
  • Unreveal: Molly/Sally’s eyes are still never seen.
  • Virtual Ghost: Several, including some characters from previous books who have since died. Collin the AI who counsels and protects Kumiko is also explicitly described as a ghost, even though he was apparently never a real person.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Tick has his arm dislocated in a simulation, and even though his real arm is unharmed he still feels like it had been injured when he leaves.