In chapter one, I thought I had wandered into the kind of humour that I would have found funny at the age of 15. Simple, light, fluffy, slapstick jokes about extreme nerd stereotypes. In fact, I wrote a story much like that when I was 15 which I'm sure will be cached on Google until well past my death. I put the book down.
I picked it up again. In the next couple chapters, I revised my opinion and decided this was going to be a Dilbert/Scott Adams clone for system administrators instead of engineers. On random flipping, you'd find "Infonuggets" which are stupid jokes in sidebars. I proceeded cautiously.
Then it got much better. Considering BruceBethke was the person who coined the term "cyberpunk" this books borders on self-deprecation. There were some parts of the book I wished I could transcribe whole on MeatballWiki, they were so funny. He cut through the image that CyberPunk is somehow "transcool" (which is a nifty cyberpunkish word I just made up) and replaced it with MAX_KOOL, the VirtualReality living nerd intern system administrator turned online hax0r, adventure d00d.
There actually was a plot to this book, and things did tie up at the end and made some sort of satiric sense. I will say that there were a little too many allusions to things like HitchHikersGuideToTheGalaxy and MontyPython?, but not excessively so. And this book totally blew VirtualReality (which, as people probably know by now, is a pet peeve of mine), but it fit with the purpose of the book.
I liked HeadCrash, which says something after my initial reactions. Now, I'm not sure I'd recommend anyone should go out and buy this book because it will change their lives. It did win the PhilipKDick? award, though. It is worth reading after a lot of "serious" CyberPunk novels just to break the dark dreary technolust monotony, give yourself a nice kick in the head, and remind you of the difference between a life online and an actual life. -- SunirShah
Good analogy; reading this book IS like being kicked in the head.