Even as pulp fiction, this book is not worth the time. The characters, how the characters act in the story, and the action is just not internally consistent. Each problem is a small one in itself; in total the careless writing kills the story. There are lots of examples, but here are a couple. 1) Two characters rush to another city in an attempt for stop a murder (although calling ahead might have been simpler and more effective). They take a private jet for its speed and efficiency. But when they arrive they don't have a private car waiting to rush them to the site of the action, but instead take a cab! 2) One of the characters is put in situations by others to investigate the loss of her former fiancee. It didn't ring true that she, rather than someone not emotionally involved, would be sent.
This book is about torture, past and present, which seems to be a theme these days. In the Dragon tattoo books, it was a necessary part of the tapestry of the story. Here it is just gratuitous and tedious. In fact, this entire book was tedious.
(The only positive note was that January LaVoy was a terrific reader.)
This was the first time I have encountered Murakami. I expected the book to be long and slow. It was. Given its length, I was not surprised to find it repetitive. It was. And by the half way point I began to suspect that there would be a few unresolved threads at the end. As it turned out, almost all the threads lay hanging when the book suddenly stopped. It was basically like the Bob Newhart show, where, in the last episode he awoke to find the whole thing had been a dream: never mind what had passed. At least with Bob Newhart there was some internal consistency. The fundamental theme in this book is multiple worlds. However, even that concept was not handled with any consistency. Some may view it as art. I found it sloppy and intellectually lazy.
At something like 38 hours, Reamde would have to be entertaining -- and it was. Rather than ideas, which is something I looked to Stephenson for in the past, Reamde's strengths were characters who I really liked learning about and a continually engaging writing style. Generally I listen to audio books only during my commute, but I found I put Reamde on whenever I had a chance. Strongly recommended.
I listened to this book expecting a historical novel. Instead, it turned out to be a sappy romance novel. Don't get me wrong, mature presentation of relationships between people is fine. But the course of the relationship between two of the characters was just silly. That, plus the "benevolent God" theme of the book, was particularly offensive to me given the context of the impending holocaust.
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