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)
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.
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.
I think the book is altogether excellent. The only quibble I have (and it is minor) is in the final act, which maybe Stephenson tries to hew too closely to Snow Crash, i.e. crazy action/adventure for the sake of action/adventure. It isn't bad, it just seems to go on a little too long and a little too intensely (if that makes sense). Still, excellent book and well worth the listen.
I finished the gigantic book. With this complete let me say "wow". I feel like I have been dumped with details and information for weeks. Excellent story, interesting characters, and plenty to keep in wrapped up in it. If you are looking for a good read and something that will take up a lot of time you may plenty of, please read this book. My first book I've read by Neal Stephenson, I think I'm going to pick out a few more.
The action, after the first 100 or so pages, was riveting. A real page turner. I'd asked one of my daughter's for a recommendation for something that had a lot of action and Reamde is what she suggested. She said, "It's the quickest 1,000 pages I've ever read." I must agree - I listened to most of the almost 40 hours of audio in one weekend.
Long, International, Thriller
The book was very engaging but veered off from its promise to be about the world of gaming and cybercrime. Instead it was a fairly conventional (and predictable) international thriller, full of narrow escapes, chases and gunplay. The action was rendered in such meticulous detail that I wound up playing it at 1.25 speed to move it along faster. Still the characters were engaging and I listened to the very end.
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