This book is really difficult for me to rate and review. It felt so much like two distinct and separate books crammed into one. I loved one of those books. The other, not so much.
First and foremost I have to start off by saying that this book probably has my favorite first chapter of any book. Period. It's amazing. And had the rest of the book followed along that track it would easily be a 5 star read for me. That, however, sadly isn't the case. The cyberpunk geek in me fell in love with the world, and even Hiro for all his flaws. (YT less so. Mostly for gender issues.) The portions of the story that revolved around Hiro's adventures both in the real world and online were fast paced and fun. I was also intrigued by Juanita (and grossly disappointed by the trajectory her character takes in the second half of the book). The idea of information being viral is something that I found intriguing and and drew me in.
All in all an excellent start. And then you get about a third of the way into the book and run straight into one of the lengthiest and most inelegant info-dumps I have ever read. The focus of the book shifts to linguistics research, and ancient cultures. Now, this might be somewhat forgivable, except that all the information you are bombarded with isn't really that vital, and it is (damningly) rehashed later and summarized in about 5 pages. And that's really the core issue. It feels like someone stuffed a grad thesis in the middle of a cyberpunk adventure book. It clashes in the worst way, and obliterates the flow to the point where it was very difficult for me to get back into the book once the action started to ramp back up. Hence, very conflicting feeling on the book as a whole. All in all I enjoyed the book, but it does make me hesitant to try some of Stephenson's other works.