The story starts strong and the descriptions of locations are great. However, it quickly deteriorates into a Hollywood like set of unrealistic characters and one deus ex machina upon another.
I had to do a lot of driving for a while and 38 hours of this easy to listen book were good money spent.
Live near Yosemite National Park. Listen to Audible books while hiking.
Stephenson is a very good author but this work is not at the level of The Diamond Age or Cryptonomicon. A good way to bore readers is to let too long a time go by without intense action. In this story, we learn more about how to operate a pirated ship or how to control its drift in the North China Sea than anyone save a naval academy midshipman would want to know. Same with what it's like to be out hiking and shooting in the North American mountains. The story would have been better if it were half as lengthy. Stephenson needs a good strong willed editor with lots of red pencils! The end is undramatic. Spoiler alert: All the bad guys get shot in various unexciting ways and the family reunion continues. Yawn.
I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology
I loved the plot of this story. It took me through several countries, and introduced me to complex, interesting characters from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. There is a religious extremist/terrorist. There is an Eastern European hacker. There is a Chinese MMO gold farmer. A fascinating web of plot threads weaves together into a rich tapestry as the story unfolds. I found the climax of the novel so riveting I was almost late for work, as I sat in my car listening with rapt attention to the action packed shoot-out (trying to minimize spoilers, I apologize if this is already too much information for some). While it is a very long listen, I think it took me less than a week to listen to the entire thing, which says a lot about how interesting it is.
This novel reminded me of what I enjoyed about Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One", which was the inclusion of the MMORPG fad and it similarly predicted the widespread popularity and commonplace nature of nearly everyone playing an MMORPG in the future. I see this as a feasible outcome in the future, and I like seeing novels set in the future that incorporate it.
Would recommend to someone that was driving cross country and could only buy one book. While the technology sections are good and have speculative fiction, Mr. Stephenson's style of "action" writing would be better suited to describing snail racing. By the end when hours are spent describing a two hour event, I was waiting for it to be over so I could move on to another title.
Unlike Mr. Stephenson's other books, he seems to have most of both feet firmly placed in reality - a refreshing change. Beyond that, hard to compare to other books except that he does have a good grip on technology.
Chock full of tedious exposition of everyday events -- for example, a whole paragraph describing two guys walking to a car and getting in. Explanations of technology for people just in from an alien homeworld. Grating, sexist tone. Hackneyed, stereotypical characters.
Accents were awful, voice was soporific.
Whole thing could have been a short story about 20 pages long.
I'm a big Stephenson fan, but he wasn't even phoning it in here. I seriously suspect a bot wrote it.
To listen to a great book while I knit is heaven on earth.
The premise of this book is interesting. I do not know much about video games and to have a thriller based with that as a platform caught my imagination. However, the author then conjures up a series of events involving other scenarios . I don't want to spoil anyone's listening experience. The story offers a little of everything , it should , it is long enough,maybe even a little too much. That is my only criticism. The reader however keeps it moving right along wonderfully. My husband and I listened together and enjoyed it.
The characters were intensely interesting
Daemon by Daniel Suarez. MMOG references, intelligent use of technology. It takes only a mild suspension of disbelief to accept this as a possible reality.
I was captivated and could listen to Malcolm read the phone book
The story dragged on far too long and left the interesting role playing game twist far behind by mid-story. It became an afterthought in an implausible thriller with more last second escapes then found in batman comics. Cutting out two hours of this wouldn't change the story a bit...which sort of just peters out at the end anyway.
Probably the next installment of a Harry Bosch novel by Connelly.
Okay, w/inconsistent accents. But that didn't bother me nearly as much as the bad material he had to work with.
The idea of real money making by players and a manhunt ensuing due to a massive multiplayer role playing game was intriguing. Some characters were well developed and a bit likable. Just not enough to care about the numerous characters followed throughout the story.
I had not read anything by Neal Stephenson before Reamde. I have to say that based on his writing style in this book I doubt I will ever read anything else of his. I am not opposed to crude or vulgar language in dialogue for realism, etc. However, this author uses crude language in descriptive passages leaving me with the feeling I'm reading a first novel written by an uneducated teenager. For example, he describes used toilet paper in a forest as "used bum wads." Very crude and it adds nothing to the imagery, it takes you out of the story instead. He also uses the phrase "ass crawling" when there are so many other ways that could be described. It's not like either of those things are commonly used phrases. These are small things, but these and many others distracted me from the story.
Also bothersome was the way some unimportant incidents are described in agonizing detail and then repeated from another character's point of view in order to transition from one group of characters to another. This was just painful to listen to. This can be done well, but was not here. The imagery of the scene was complete halfway through the detailed description the first time and then you are forced to realize it is the same scene from anther POV with further unneeded descriptors or character insight.
The book has some very interesting chapters early on but later it dragged on for so long, with so many characters I didn't care about, it was difficult to finish. As I forced myself to complete it, I was even more disappointed by the predictable ending and forced dialogue to wrap up a mediocre story.
All in all, a wasted opportunity to create a heart-pounding thriller around a clever idea. What a shame.
Expansive. Imaginative. Exciting.
Neal Stephenson's books are really only comparable to themselves. His style of writing wherein he crafts a multiperspectived storyline that slowly weaves among itself until it comes crashing together in a final climax is reminiscent of a Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin or Peter F. Hamilton saga, but handled in a much different way. Stephenson also introduces numerous political, philosophical, historical and technological themes that are expanded on or alluded to at numerous points throughout the novel. If you read some of his non-fictional work, you can see the brilliance of Stephenson as an interpreter of the trends of the modern world, but he manages to slide these ideas in unobtrusively throughout his fictional adventures. His earlier novel Cryptonomicon is the closest overall comparison that comes to mind.
Brilliant reading. Hillgartner conveys Stephenson's wry humor and the aggressive brilliance of his characters with perfect aplomb. Dodge will always sound like Hillgartner's rendition of him in my head.
1 Star -- Terrible 2 Stars -- Bad 3 Stars -- Mediocre 4 Stars -- Great to the right person. 5 Stars -- Superb, you must pick this up.
A surprising book. I just can't say if it was a pleasantly surprising book or not.
See, this book was like picking up a box of chocolate truffles but when I go to take a bite, I find out it's actually peanut butter fudge. I love both things, and its delicious, just not what I was expecting.
I guess I should explain. See, the book is called Reamde, which the jacket describes is a computer virus that has to do with a madly successful MMORPG, T'Rain. The Jacket also says that it is about Zula who is being hunted by nefarious individuals. This isn't strictly true, though I won't get into that because of my policy of spoilers in reviews. What it turns out to be is a globe hopping action adventure...thriller (maybe). It's kind of a book version of Taken, you know, that movie with Liam Neeson kicking butt. Though as you can see this is a long book, and though Stephenson does a good job of keeping the pace strong, do you want a book of action for 1044 pages? I find I do. To finish up this part of my review, if you are looking for Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, look elsewhere.
Without further ado, characters, story, and world.
The characters (there are a lot of them) are actually all quite wonderfully believable and entertaining. Yeah you have to suspend belief sometimes with what they are capable of, actually on second thought, most times you don't, especially in the climactic battle. Each character is solidly separate from the others, unlike some books I've read recently, I always knew who was speaking, and never once thought one was just a pallet swap of another. The characters are all part of a separate group where the dynamics play nicely.
The story. Once you learn to not question the likelihood of turns of events, you're good! The world is weird sometimes, so yeah these turns of events are possible... just really, really unlikely. The story is fun though, there aren't too many slow parts, and the slow parts are usually interesting. We go from Washington, to China, to a lot of Canada (is the Canadian border really that hard to get across?), and then some Idaho or some such state. There is a climactic mini war that goes on for 100-200 pages at the end that is wonderful and the most realistic part of the whole book I'd say. It's fun, the whole book if it was bad would have been worth that part, but as it was, the whole book is good. I am just disappointed about the lack of T'Rain goodness.
Which brings me to the world. It's the real world circa roundabouts now. But there is also the world of T'Rain. Stephenson spent a lot of time developing and explaining this spectacular game and world, it's economics, the War of Realignment, and many other parts of it. I kept expecting it to play a huge role, or a climactic reveal. It didn't. I am almost positive that Stephenson started writing a different novel that had to deal with T'Rain and then did this one instead, but because of all his work on developing Richard and T'Rain, he had to throw it in. But yeah, a message board or youtube comments section could have substituted in in this book, and saved us 200-300 pages.
Never read Stephenson before, may give his other works a shot though. But I definitely think this is a split 4.0 stars, no more, no less. It was fun, it was long, it was entertaining, but it never once made me think. I don't even think there was any symbolism in it to be honest.
So, I recommend this book to anyone who wants a 1044 page action joy ride.