I am a big Neal Stephenson fan and will continue to come back for his latest publication. I generally love the way he develops his characters and storyline, although he does have a tendency to be "long-winded". That is what happened in Reamde. By the fourth hour (really, not sure of the time elapsed, but it was probably longer) of gun shooting and slogging thru the woods, I just wanted it to stop.
While it was a good book the outline was fairly deceptive. What I expected to be a book about Richard Forthrast and this virtual world he had created and a virus that was affecting the clients, that might delve into huge technological ideas, instead turned out to be the set-up for a very different story.
It was instead about someone else and a very spy/crime feeling drama instead of anything overly technical. The technical parts that did get discussed were so overly described that you would have to have not heard of the internet, and wanted to know specific intricate details that no one could be bothered with.
I say spy/crime feeling because I don't want to give away what actually occurs.
Other than that, all I can really warn you is the author spreads the story in around 6 different directions, will talk one part up until you're really interested and then swaps out to the dullest thread that hasn't received any attention. He then picks some small point about that thread, maybe what the person is wearing, and then discusses that ad nauseum until you're ready to fall asleep before picking up the drama around that thread again, building it to a critical point and then swapping away again.
The story was good, was entertaining, but didn't go where I'd hope it was going from the outline, and was packed with coincidences and convenient parts all over that drove me mad.
And I still have no idea how mountain cats climb ladders.
I love Zombie books. I was surprised to find out that their many that are quite good. Need any recommends for a GOOD zombie book let me know.
Starts a bit slow and alot to keep up with but well worth......AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I also really like the narrator and will search out more stuff by him....
Neal Stephenson writes very long books, and it is a measure of his talent that he can spend pages describing a series of very complicated events - every sideways roll, every ejected cartridge - that go to make up, say, a twenty-five second gun battle and not have it seem verbose and tedious. And it had better not, because there are an awful lot of cartridges ejected in the course of this thriller.
The stand out characters are the women. Our hero (the real hero - not the Richard Forthrast referred to in the blurb but his niece Zula) is a fantastic (in both senses) creation - conditioned by experience and upbringing to be resourceful and self-reliant. Thank goodness, as she is about to find herself unwillingly in the company of a lot of genuinely menacing and scary men in circumstances that would have anyone else whimpering in a corner with terror (provided the chain round one's neck would permit one getting to the corner). The other great female character is Yuxia, Chinese tea merchant and force of nature.
Filled with characteristic Stephensonian passages - an explanation of installing Linux and a Tor browser, descriptions of the underlying economic principles of a MMORPG, et multiply cetera - this is, despite its length, a taut, fast-paced fingernail biter of a read, lavished with loving gore and peopled by terrific characters. It isn't as funny as Cryptonomicon, nor does it overflow with ideas like that that earlier work (or The Diamond Age) but it's a winner, and Malcolm Hillgartner's narration is absolutely perfect. It only just misses out on five stars because I know that Stephenson can do better - but you probably only get one Cryptonomicon in any career, so perhaps that's churlish.
As a Clancy-style techno-thriller, this is a very good book. As usual, with Stephenson, the characters are unique but believable in the "real people are weird" view of the world. I enjoyed the flow of the book, the writing approach with its "okay, now I'll give you the backstory you need to understand what just happened," and the story itself.
My only real disappointment is that I expected something sci-fi or fantastic to happen, and it never did. In my mind, this is not a typical Stephenson book for that reason. Not that he always writes in genre, but it is what I expected. After ANATHEM, I was prepared for another "this book should win the Hugo" experience. So don't expect that, and you'll probably be pretty pleased.
Treating it as a techno-thriller, I think it is the most fun I've had with a book like that since HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.
Love me some audible!
I am completely enthralled by this book. Neal creates moving pictures from each characters view as the book rumbles along uniting 21st century technology with 6th century militant religion culminating in a face to face showdown with modern American extremism.
I would be so involved in the story that I was passing my exits off the interstate.
I would sit in my driveway to hear what happens next.
All in all, one of the best stories I've heard.
Neal Stephenson is among my favourite few authors. When he's good, he's very, very good. When he's not so good - as in this case - his novels flow along at a good, action-packed pace, but there's little depth to them, and we might have to avert our eyes from the plot holes.
If this were science fiction (rather than a contemporary thriller), it would fit squarely in the part of the genre favoured by Analog. A bunch of individualist, superior, libertarian heroes save America. The bizarre miss-mash of plot elements keeps us entertained in this action story, but could just as easily form the basis of a raucous comedy.
I enjoyed Reamde, but was disappointed, because I was hoping for more.
Reamde is about as reminiscent to a Snow Crash modern novel as you can get. Set in a more contemporary time than I've grown accustomed to with Stephenson, I found this book to be a great story with engaging characters. At times I felt like I was reading about James Bond who happened to know a Jack Ryan-Steve Jobs-esque billionaire who was related to a young Foxy Brown - all of whom happened to run in to Osama Bin Laden. Loved every minute of it.
As with his other works, the level of detail and richness of character traits makes me think Stephenson must spend most of his free time visiting these locations and writing about people in his family. I went with the audio book this time and was not dissapointed. The narrator did an excellent job switching from character to character - all with pronounced accents - conveying a fantastic degree of "suspension of disbelief" that I rarely get in an audio book.
I originally selected this book because several reviews compared Mr. Stephenson's storytelling to that of Robert Ludlum. I did not find this to be the case. I did end up enjoying the book, but the author continually found twenty words to describe something that could have been said in just a few. I commute for my job and I try to purchase books that are fairly long recordings; this has been the longest so far. So I suppose I jinxed myself by picking a long book. In the end I enjoyed the book very much and the performance was excellent. But, due to the lengthy prose, I had to re-listen to chapters because I ended up falling asleep. So in short, it is a good book, but it is really just too long.