In 1972, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, fled to the mountains of British Columbia to avoid the draft. A skilled hunting guide, he eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling marijuana across the border between Canada and Idaho. As the years passed, Richard went straight and returned to the States after the U.S. government granted amnesty to draft dodgers. He parlayed his wealth into an empire and developed a remote resort in which he lives. He also created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world.
But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.
Racing around the globe from the Pacific Northwest to China to the wilds of northern Idaho and points in between, Reamde is a swift-paced thriller that traverses worlds virtual and real. Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the 21st century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists. Above all, Reamde is an enthralling human story - an entertaining and epic pause-resister from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.
©2011 Neal Stephenson (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“Stephenson...delivers a sprawling thriller that shows him in complete control of his story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Noir futurist Stephenson returns to cyberia with this fast-moving though sprawling techno-thriller...Who’ll prevail? We don’t know till the very end, thanks to Stephenson’s knife-sharp skills as a storyteller. An intriguing yarn—most geeky, and full of satisfying mayhem.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Sometimes when you’re reading Neal Stephenson, he doesn’t just seem like one of the best novelists writing in English right now; he seems like the only one.” (Lev Grossman, Time)
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.
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.
Unbelievable. Epic. Entertaining.
Most memorable? Not possible to define. Spellbinding from beginning to end.
The entire book.
Epic 21st century drama.
In general, I 'like' Stephenson. Always entertaining, but previous works were not palatable to a wider audience. This one is over the top (In a good way). I have read a book per week for 50 years... which is a lot of books. This makes #1. If you want to be entertained.... there is no equal! Stephenson is not as strange as usual... Demille like character quirks.... Epic drama to match Clancy, forsyth... anybody - storytelling matches King, Dickens, Tolstoy, Follet.... all I can say is that, if you don't read this book, you miss out! Don't read it if you want depth. Read Dostoyevsky instead. If you want a great read, Read this one first and enjoy being entertained.
I don't know who to recommend this book to. The action isn't compelling enough for battle buffs, characters aren't defined enough for people people, exotic places aren't showcased well enough for destination fans, and romantic elements just add to the noise, but there is a lot about guns and the MMORPG. So maybe weapons and game enthusiasts would enjoy it. While I enjoy both, not enough to carry me through this book with any kind of enthusiasm.
He did a good job narrating, keeping the tone of whatever was happening at the time.
Yep, it's exactly what this book needs--to be cut down to script length.
The audio book has been sitting on my reader for months. We'd begin listening, but after about an hour switch to something else. Remade never really did engage us. Usually, when my husband and I listen to books together, we can't wait to wrap up the day and get to listening. With this one, it was more, "Let's just get through it so we can move on."
There were too many people to follow and the plot stretched belief suspension a little too far a few too many times.
***SPOILER ALERT*** The computer hacker, virus spreader, thief, extortionist who caused the whole mess continued stealing from the main characters' customers through the entire story and then rode off into the sunset a friend to everyone. No matter that he used some of his ill-begotten gains for good, he extorted and ripped off game players to do it, and the man whose empire was built on those customers didn't even care. Nobody did. *** END SPOILER ALERT***
Toward the end, once the final battle got underway, it was non-stop, too many players to keep track of, and too heavily weighted with back story and explanation to feel like real action or inspire any real concern for the characters, even though the narrator did a stellar job sounding active. Things they needed just appeared, a bomb, a rope ladder. People died, lost limbs and teeth, an innocent bystander, the helicopter pilot, is still sitting injured in the downed craft as far as I know. Maybe that thread was wrapped up and I missed it. I listened to the last six hours three times, but kept dozing, so I may have missed it.
While some of the characters were interesting, there was always just too much other stuff going on to ever get to know any of them. It was never clear why so many people were willing to die to save Zula 5 minutes after they met her. Her character couldn't rise above the fray.
"This virus really infected me!"
A story told between the real countries and fabricated world of T’Rain, this monumental book taps into real do-able on-line technology and imagines an intricate plot mashing the interests of Russian Mafia, wacko survivalists, Jihadists (!), US Special Forces and gaming geeks all toting gun, and shooting people! It draws the humanity out of each characters, on all sides, as they display greed, devotion, love, violence, chivalry and humour.
As with all Neal Stephenson novels, the detail is well researched and much as Michael Crichton did, it pushes you to check the boundaries of fiction in the story.
Despite the stereotype British accent that did as well for both the Black Welsh Islamic terrorist as it did for the British/Chinese secret agent Olivia, the reader, Hillgartner, kept the pace and plot twists going and diction is good enough to ramp up the reading speed to time and a half - a benefit when this monster story comes in a 38 hours!
"A real 5 star audio book...."
For me this is a real 5 star audio book. I like longer, unabridged books and at over 38 hours long this is great value for money. The really great thing however, is that those 38 hours are action packed. The book never falters or goes through a slow patch, it's great, fast paced action with a quality modern storyline thats perfect 2011. Malcolm Hillgartner's narration is spot on as well.
I've read a lot of Neal Stephenson's other books, most of which are massive tomes and all of which I love. I have his previous novel, "Anathem" in all its 935 page hardback glory (there is no audio book version), sat on my shelf at home unread because the shear size of it daunts me but listening to this has reminded me that this is madness. I know I will love it as soon as I turn the first page and I plan to start reading it straight away.
If you have read Neal Stephenson before, and especially if you liked "Cryptonomicon" you will love this as well. If you are looking for an intelligent, fast paced modern thriller then I recommend you give this a go, the 38 hours will fly by.
Whatever the audio equivalent of a page turner is, this is one of them. I found myself making excuses to go for long walks so I could get more listening time in. At first I didn't think this was my kind of book; I loved Snow Crash and Diamond Age but I'm usually less fond of books set in the the "real" world.
The reader is just right although, in common with most US readers I've listened to, really can't do a Scottish or Welsh accent which always irks me at first as it breaks the spell but the story carried me with it so I can forgive that.
Finally, I do appreciate strong female protagonists and Zula kick ass!
"Best Audio Book in Ages"
Great Characters and immersion into american culture that did not offend. I found myself taking the long way home because I did not want the story to stop
"Brilliant novel, average reader"
The novel is fantastic. The story starts off a little slow but quickly picks up the pace until it is dragging you along in its wake. The characters are all incredibly well realised and even the bad guys feel like actual people; which is saying something when you consider several of them are terrorists planning atrocities.
The only down side to this audiobook is the fact that the reader has a tendency to miss the fact that he still has words to say in the odd sentence. Once you notice he is doing this, and you will notice it fairly quickly, the next thirty-or-so hours will be annoying. That's not to say that the overall production quality on the audiobook is poor, it's just that this guy really needs to read through what he's going to say before he starts to talk.
"Wow! What a cracking listen."
It may be a long book at around 38 hours but the story, characters and construction are fabulous. The way the storylines split, weave around each other and then come back together for the climactic end game was very well accomplished. The narrator did a great job at holding my attention and in many cases anxious intrigue along the way. Some of the Scottish/Welsh/English accents were a bit ropey but good enough to be credible. A definite 5 stars from me.
"Accents aren't a strong point..."
And as for the constant 'shone' pronounced as 'shown', don't get me started.
Excellent story, just let down a little by the decidedly average performance.
There are a few novels that are so good it is hard to say enough positive things about; this is one such novel.
Listen or read this, I doubt you will be disappointed.
very well narrated, Malcolm Hillgartner tells a gripping story that keeps you hooked to the end.
"so long and so good!"
Adventure and action thriller. Full of people I want to know about. As someone who doesn't MMO, but is player adjacent, it made sense for me and had enough of the right kind of detail to be loveable. Much story. Such Wow. I was very happy with the ending.
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