I have never been a huge fan of Neal Stephenson, and this book reminded me why. Before picking up this title, it had been several years since I'd read him, but I still have many of the same problems with his work.
- The work is unnecessarily long. Stephenson must get paid by the word, because there is a lot of unnecessary cruft in this book, descriptions that go on for way too long, and there are so many scenes that do little or nothing to advance the plot and just take up space.
- The characters are ridiculous. I tried to suspend my disbelief, but so many times while listening to this novel, I was rolling my eyes and laughing at how silly the characters and scenarios were.
- Resorts to stereotypes. Russian mafia, chinese hackers, Islamic jihadists all figure prominently in the book. The only thing missing was evil North Korean communists and German Nazis (although I guess those two examples are a little more dated). The world is so much richer than that, is this really all he could come up with?
- The game world did nothing for me. To be fair, I am not a gamer so I don't know how realistic/feasible the descriptions are. But the game world as written just didn't engage me, and seemed extraneous most of the time that it was mentioned.
- Basic technology concepts over-explained.I happen to work in an internet engineering role so I know I have a leg up on some of these things, but even my aging parents know what an IP address is. Really couldn't believe how many basic concepts were dumbed down.
- The narrator was either unfamiliar with the colloquial technology terms in the book, or was instructed to read as such. For example, when describing World of Warcraft, nobody says "double-u oh double-u," they just say "wow." This is just one example of a reading style that I found jarring.
Long story short, I did not enjoy this book and it is safe to say that I am done with Stephenson for good. I powered through the book because I paid good money for it, but ultimately felt that I wasted my time. Don't waste yours.
If you like lots of action in exotic locations and are fascinated with weaponry and other guy things (construction, navigation, commando tactics, dotted quads, choo choo trains, WoW, etc.), you might enjoy this book. It???s chock full of that stuff-- but Jane Austen it???s not. The author has a complicated plot to unroll, and he isn???t going to waste time carefully sculpting his prose.
The characters are hokey: a Russian special forces guy so macho that he once survived by drinking his own urine and sucking the blood out of small animals, who spends the entire book dropping, rolling, and chambering a round; a beautiful Eurasian spy; an international band of plucky young hackers and misfits who must save each other (and the world) from the sinister machinations of arch-terrorist Abdallah Jones and his sadistic henchmen. The plot depends on ridiculous coincidences and implausible decisions to keep the action moving. There is also some bloat, as the author just can???t help himself from going on and on about the technical details of this or that: there is a dialogue about great circle flight paths that simply will not end. If the villain is about to entomb Our Heroine in a prison of his own fiendish design, you will be sure to learn about the source of the lumber, the dimensions and spacing of the nails, etc., etc., etc. It???s unnecessary-- just have Mr. Terrorist lock her up, give his arrogant monologue, laugh his evil laugh, and make his grand exit, being sure to forget some key detail that will enable heroine girl to make her ingenious escape. Okay??
That said, there???s no denying that this is a page turner. I'm sure that this rat bastard Jones is going to get what???s coming to him, but I plan to finish the thing, just to see it happen.
The Reader: In general the reader has a pretty good voice for this kind of book and he gives a decent performance, but Lordy, the man cannot do accents. If an American reader is competent at English accents, the character will just seem like a Brit, but a lame accent inevitably makes him sound like a pompous jerk. There is another character, supposedly from Boston, who seems to suffer from some completely arbitrary vowel-distortion syndrome. The Russians sound ok though.
Thrilling, complex, long
Lots and lots of twists and turns - it is really 3 or 4 books in one.
Reamde reminded me a lot of William Gibson's recent work - a sort of hyper-present-day-reality with strong female leads. The length is typical of Stephenson's writing - full of wandering paragraphs and delightful details. You can love the musings of a talented mind, or get frustrated that the plot is not always central to the exposition.
This isn't the typical Stephenson book. I've found his recent work to be somewhat plodding. This one is a fast-paced thriller with good characters and an enjoyable performance. It has the pacing of his earlier books (Snowcrash, Zodiac) rather than the more recent work.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean buyer. If you're a pretender come sit by my fire
This story goes on forever and reaches climaxes on many occasion, though knowing that you still have 20 more hours lessens the excitement somewhat. There's plenty of action, but it feels more than a little shark-jumpy. If you like Stephenson, you'll probably enjoy this, but if this is your first foray into Stephenson start with something else.
Jodi Picoult is my favorite author for various reasons including that she answers my emails. I am also interested in most crime dramas.
yes, I remember it clearly
there were so .many characters you meet along the way.
I think the 2 young travelers he meets on the train
Oh and the gentle giant he meets briefly when a fight breaks out somewhat near the end
no, it's almost impossible
I seriously did not think I would get so engrossed in this book that I would take my Mp3 player and walk around the house with headphones on because I could stop listening to it, but it was and I did
Fan of Fiction, And really really good naratives.
To tell the truth it was a little hard to get thru the first hour.. But not until the deal went down did this start to pick up traction. It was then that the story began to have different perspectives/viewpoint that told the story from that characters viewpoint. It is simple amazing. That and its many in dept but not minuscule draping of scenery and scents and sounds. Neal paints a fantastic portrait and its pallet is large and varied . The Narrator is amazing in his vocalizations of all the characters. To the point that you knew who was talking with out the need of the narrator to explain.
I loved the twisting storylines, Subplots, stories within stories. It is constucted in such a way as to hook the reader/listener into the fabric of the story without ever feeling that you are being pulled along like a child by a parent.
Malcolm, mastery of vocalizing each charater and giving them distinct accents and speech pattern is quite marvelous to put it plainly. I would say he could narrate anything and make it interesting.
This is not a one sitting book, 40 hours is a bit of time to dedicate to one book.. At times i could not get enough and even now am sadden that the tale has come to an end. These are characters I will miss.
Could not put it down, NS is still able to create a panoply of characters that engage, tour de force of suspense, entertaining waste of time but ultimately not satisfying. I don't remember much of the characters, nor the story. Coming from the author who brought us some truly stupefyingly awesome masterpieces [my favorite is 'Anathem'], this is mediocre.
It was good - addictively so but WAY TO LONG for the story it wanted to tell. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but it became ridiculous in its crazy story connections and plot twists. At first it felt like Snow Crash, but then veered a bit out of control.
If you like Neal Stephenson, you should love this. While Diamond Age is my favorite of his works, I think his skills improve with each book he writes.
The only book of his I've read and been underwhelmed by was Snow Crash, and I feel like Reamde was his return to, and successful re-imagining of, the cyber-punk, MMORPG-based novel.
Thanks Neal! Keep 'em coming!
AWESOME! This guy is among the best audio book performers I've ever heard! As much as I enjoyed the book, I actually think Hillgartner's reading made it even more enjoyable than it would have been in print. His accents were fun and well-differentiated! I always knew who was talking, and it spiced up some already atomically spicy characters.