Normal is a short, pithy novel about the Surveillance Earth we all live in now and the many repercussions physical and mental of always being observed and recorded. Ellis has his moments of satiric fun, especially with energy drinks (seriously). Normal's a dead-serious novel, though, populated with eccentric characters who seem less and less eccentric as the novel goes along.
A 'locked-room mystery' drives most of the plot, with Dearden the man who has to solve it --and why it happened. The explanation lies in whatever drove Dearden over the edge, an incident that Dearden can barely start to ponder without collapsing into a weeping wreck on the floor.
The futurists are a fascinating bunch. Ellis has spent a lot of time dealing with such forward-thinkers. Their (former) jobs here run the gamut from theories of water and waste management in the face of global warming to how best to deploy killer-drones in an urban environment. Along the way, one realizes that New York City will be destroyed by its own water and waste management problems should the city ever get hit with a hurricane above Category 1. And it will.
And the drone theories make perfect sense. They may already be in place, set there by governments and corporations and think tanks. Whee!
As is usual for Ellis, he's written something both funny and deeply disturbing. One may start longing for a personal EMP generator after reading it. Is there no escape from Brother Eye? Highly recommended.