Pattern Recognition is a novel set shortly after the events that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. The book was published in 2005.
Cayce Pollard is a “coolhunter”, which means she has a gift for spotting the next cool trend. Big companies hire her to find that for them, and also to judge if their next logo is going to work for them or not. She leads a very solitary life, traveling from country to country for work.
In her spare time, she has become enamored with something called “The Footage”, which appears to be parts of a movie, snipped up, mixed up, and sent out onto the internet, somewhere, for people to find and comment on.
This book is a Thriller, of sorts, as Cayce finds the seperate spheres of her work and her hobby colliding. Her search takes her around the world, and into a bunch of little secret holding cultures.
It moves rather fast, at times, with lots of questions. One gets answered, somewhat, and leads to more questions. For most of the book, its unclear exactly what it going on, but, by the end, it is all very nicely revealed. The entire story takes place from inside Cayce’s head, and the reader only knows what she knows, and only knows her thoughts, not the thoughts of any of the other characters. It comes across a little bit fragmented, at first, but is something I got used to quickly.
This book is more than a Thriller, however. Gibson has captured the isolation of what its like to “know” people solely from reading posts and sending email back and forth. I think a lot of people live in that world today.
Parts of the book are emails, written in darker type, with as little punctuation, paragraphs, etc. as what most people really do send in email. The inclusion of “actual” emails fits the story, and the time it takes place in, really well.
The story takes place right after 9/11, and Gibson also is very adept at capturing the wierdness that many Americans were feeling at that time. The isolation, the feeling that the world has ended, or at least changed, into something not before seen or expected, the paranoia. It’s all there.
Included in the story are some descriptions of when the Towers fell, and the walls and walls covered with photos of the missing, and some other things that happened in the days and weeks after 9/11, mostly because Cayce lost her father that day, and he was never found, alive or dead, after that.
I thought this was a very good book, done in a fresh new way, (even though it does cover 9/11, which so many books and short stories have done since then). You can read it as a Thriller, or as a commentary of how things changed after that day, or as a story about loneliness and isolation. Very beautiful, in it’s own way.