As fans of Neal Stephenson know, he deserves the often used moniker "Master Storyteller." Reamde combines the adventure, character development, and technical acumen for which he is famous with real-time real world settings (Seattle, British Columbia, China...) not employed since his novel Zodiac in 1988. Reamde has all the technological cyber wizardry of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon combined with modern gangsters, spies, and international intrigue. Reamde has the brilliant Stephenson ideas packed into his science fiction books with the accessibility of a story any Tom Clancy fan would certainly appreciate as well as dedicated Stephenson science fiction fans.
As fans of audio books know, narration is an essential part of any audio book. Although Malcolm Hillgartner has an excellent voice and delivery in general, he continually slides from Slavic accents into a weird accent as much Mexican-American as Hungarian or Russian. Sadly, his Chinese accents sound extremely Mexican-American, and not at all Asian. Sorry, Mr. Hillgartner, but if you cannot do an accent perfectly please do not even attempt it. It is distracting, and it detracts noticeably from this wonderful story.
1 Too many numbered and lettered lists
2. occasional middle-aged man phrases, even when it's not Richard (no, I don't have to provide examples)
3. if it's going to be this long (which I like - in this case, the length and detail almost feel like an attribute of the plot and the worlds it describes, and it doesn't hurt that I'm listening on a 3 week business jaunt with two weekend breaks) and it's going to rely on a combination of preposterous but entertaining coincidences, sometimes the speculation by the characters ought to be more off the mark; everyone is just too dang smart.
4. Seamus - Mr. Hilgartner needs to dramatically improve his Boston (southie says the narrator) accent. It would have been much less distracting to simply speak basic American English.
5. Too much love for firearms. I mean, it sounds like Mr. Stephenson loves them. I like nice guns too but the net effect is that almost everyone in the book, at least characters who get more than cursory descriptions, are in love with guns.
6. I forget.
A great story - I loved it as it rollercoastered through a contemporary interconnected world. Complex plot with plenty of detail, but also fluid enough to easily draw the listener along at a breakneck pace.
There's a recent, but small trend in Science Fiction: stories set in present day. No aliens, or space ships. No time travel. No speculation about "the future".
This new breed of SF novel deals with the here and now. The assumption here is that technology is changing our lives so quickly, that the traditional themes and explorations of SciFi can take place without changing the setting. Our current society is alien enough!
William Gibson's Pattern Recognition was an SF book famously set "5 years in the past" and managed to be cutting edge while dealing with the culture and technology of the mid 1990s.
ReamDe can be seen as that type of book.
The basic plot: unknown criminals and/or terrorists write a tiny little virus meant to operate in the virtual world of an online, multi-player game. This has unforeseen consequences on people who live their lives in the real world. We follow the action as the chaos spreads across the entire world. Both our world, and the virtual world.
ReamDe is definitely a thriller. The sense of danger is real, and exciting. Still, there is humor, mostly based on the idea that huge world shaping events are mostly triggered by a collection of accidents, coincidences, and decisions made by key persons; and that it all could have been avoided if anyone involved had a view of the bigger picture.
It's also a whodunnit, and not even the "villains" know exactly what they've actually done.
Like all Neal Stephenson books, the devil is in the details. The obsessive/compulsive detail of Geeks and their tech.
In this world hackers are "computer geeks", billionaires are "money geeks" and spys and assasins are "gun and combat geeks". Stephenson seems to make the point that the only difference is what they've happened to focus on.
Compared to Stephenson's other books, Reamde is a summer blockbuster action ride. Like something Michael Bay would produce... if he had a background in math and computer science.
Of course this is a Neal Stephenson book, so it's still packed with plenty of tech, philosophy, and politocal commentary for the academic types, and hipster science nerds that are probably his main audience.
Driving over 100,000 mile a year since 1983, I got hooked on audible books on tape 30 years back. I now listen from my bicycle 2 hours a day
Some great characters and an interesting story line extended a bit beyond optimum but worth the credit and a satisfying thriller none the less. It could have been trimmed a bit but that's a quibble that cost it one star IMHO. It's quite unlike the more dynamic Snow Crash still it shows Stephenson's range and he is quite at home with this rather convoluted series of crisis inducing mistakes.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I guess this book is a pretty standard thriller, which is fine, but did not impress me. It is NOT science fiction. The narration was well done, handling the myriad of characters well, although it may have been, understandably, uninspired. I was annoyed by the utter stupidity of the characters, who act in ways that made no sense at all, yet were convenient for the author. I was annoyed by the wildly unbelievably string of events necessary to move the story. Although there was a lot of action, I found most of the action uninteresting because it was so implausible I didn???t really care. There were a couple of scenes I found exciting, a couple of lines that were funny, and a very few scenes with appealing language and evocative imagery, but far less than I need to really enjoy a novel. Finally I found the novel lacked a spirit that transcended the story. This is a standard thriller with a few geek twists, but I always hope for more than standard.
Tell us about yourself!
I was eagerly awaiting this story & zipped right through it as soon as it arrived. LOVED it- my favorite since Cryptonomicon.
The story is classic Stephenson, and the characters are just crazy. There are a bunch of folks you end up following around and of course their backstories are all just bonkers but awesome. I was in awe how he brought everyone together at the end for the big showdown. Yes, it's a 100 page gun battle. A totally crazy, somewhat hilarious, pure Stephenson ending. Go listen! I was so sad to have this end, eagerly awaiting his next story.
As other reviews have noted, there are several passages which are duplicated out of sequence and spoil any suspense that the author was trying to create. Why won't audible fix the file?
I was SO disappointed about how out of sequence this otherwise exciting novel was. It was particularly bad for a book with so many moving parts—I didn't even realize how out of sequence it was until I started hearing repeat chapters. This NEEDS to be fixed. Do not buy until it is.