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 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.
I picked up Reamde because the Audible blurb for this story involved an online game world, hackers, and a virus and it seemed like an interesting topic for a novel. That premise is just the tip of the iceberg and this tale veers all over the place. The main characters wind up all over the globe, and the online world of T'Rain, as spies, terrorists, smugglers, and the Russian mafia all get entangled into the plot. Every step of the way Stephenson ups the ante and the plot almost seems to run out of control.
Reamde moved along nicely but it was always just on the wrong side of being believable for me. The relationships formed by some of the characters were just too strong too quickly and the mechanics of the online gaming world of T'Rain were also just a little bit off. If you aren't an online gamer the latter may not be of concern to you at all; however, if you are picking this up because of the online game connection then you should know that it is only a small part of a much larger story. It is not as central to the tale as it was in "Ready Player One".
Reamde can be a fun thrill ride that will head in directions that aren't obvious but only pick it up if you are willing to embrace a chain of highly unlikely occurrences. Malcolm Hillgartner does a decent job of narrating although he deals with a lot of different accents to various degrees of success.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I am trying to capture the audio equivalent to a page-turner, so I hope you get the idea.
Another great yarn from Stephenson and on that would make a Jackie Chan film plot look slow and uninteresting. I'd like to say it's well paced, but it's not - all furious action, so that the downtime between engagements seems barely to be punctuation.
Again, it has great characterisation. There are some very likable characters, both heroes and villans, and there is as complex a plot as one can reasonably expect. However, I found the pairings and the ending a bit too neat. If I was comparing it to his other works, I'd say the plot is not as clever as Cryptonomicom (hardly suprising, that) and the research is not as awesome (in the true sense of the word) as the Baroque Cycle, but I think it's a very good third place. This still puts it ahead of just about every other book in the same genre out there in my view. Overall I loved it!
As for the performance, I thought Malcolm Hilgartner did a superb job; as good as William Dufris in Crypto', and with as much range and at a rattling good pace.
I highly recommend it, but this time not only for history buffs. It's for the secret agent that lurks within each of us, too.
Ok, I love long stories. However, this one went on way too long for the plot. I kept finding myself drifting off only to realize I hadn't actually missed anything integral to character or plot development. There was lots of back story to justify future actions that I really don't think added anything to the story. And lots of meandering around or waiting for things to happen.... and not in a Tolkien "the journey is the story" way.
Having said that, the book does have interesting twists and well written characters that definitely draw you in. From the synopsis I was expecting something more sci-fi, but the story has more of an espionage/terrorist bent.
The narrator is ok, but I agree with others about his deficiency in portraying accents. He used a generic British accent instead of a Welsh one for one of the main characters. The Hungarian accent was atrocious & Russian accents were cartoonish. Thankfully, he didn't even attempt Chinese accents.
In the end, I suggest you give it a try. Although it's not my cup of tea, it didn't suck.
Neal Stephenson, my favorite speculative fiction writer, is back in form with this one, perhaps because he's back in his own century, and back on his own territory (literally: we are in places with which Stephenson is deeply familiar -- the Pacific Northwest, Manila and the coast of China, as well as the world of massive multiplayer gaming.) His speculations, thus grounded, are more entertaining than usual and focused on a variety of strategies and scams. How can you make real money in an imagined world? How can a terrorist fly out of China without a flight plan or manifest? How does one spend millions of hours writing/playing online games and maintain a slim figure? To which a delighted reader might respond: how do you write a 100-page gun battle that a reader can actually follow? how do you maintain multiple plot lines and dozens of characters without dropping (or drooping) the narrative pace?
Stephenson has invented a genre unique to himself: a big dumb nonstop action thriller packed with provocative ideas and insights, and rich in humor based on characters and their interactions. (Yes, I've read William Gibson, whom I like. But Gibson is the vegan at the feast compared to Stephenson's full-throated omnivore).
There is a large international cast of characters, whom the narrator keeps distinct with reasonably plausible accents that (mostly) don't go overboard.
Stephenson is a great storyteller, and like most of his books (I'm a committed fan) this one is a great romp. However, what sets him aside from the other prolific storytellers who reliably produce good, long novels is that is books tend to have some real intellectual substance, even when they don't take themselves too seriously. Such substance is missing from Reamde. I know that Anathem, my personal favorite, is not to everyone's taste--but even Snow Crash, Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon all played with big ideas in a compelling and stimulating way. Reamde has great characters, fast-paced action, and surprising twists and turns--but the ideas are a bit thin on the ground.
Something must be wrong with this audiobook. Part of the book repeat itself. In different chapters. If the author intended this then it's a terrible book. Otherwise the audiobook itself is badly made. The repeating chapters threw me off an otherwise decent story.
I loved this book and Neil Stephenson, however, I do not love all of his books. Recently, I have had frustrations with Anathem and the books he has written with other authors. I much prefer it when he is the sole author. This is not science fiction but it is much more in line with Snow Crash or Cryptonomicon in detail of knowledge and style. Stephenson does a fabulous job in communicating and understanding the gaming world (not that I am an expert but those I know and other reviewers have stated it is).
Malcolm Hilgartner does a wonderful job with the narration. He did well with the accents, and in my opinion did very well doing female voices.
If you like Stephenson and if you enjoy a suspense novel you will enjoy this book. It was a relief to read this book. I was hesitant after Anathem and Mongoloid, as I mentioned above. If you are hestitant, like I was, don't skip Reamde. It really is great.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
Remarkable characters, a unique storyline, fast paced plot and top notch narration make this an easy 5 star novel. Did I mention its well written?
This is a long, complicated tale involving an in depth view of gaming, spies, gangsters, CIA ops, gun nuts, beautiful women, overweight men, and I could go on without exaggeration. As incredible and unlikely it seems that such a story could actually occur to one group of people inside of a month's time period, Stephenson's storytelling makes it work. His characters are so engrossing, believable and likable I could not stop listening.
Even though its not fantasy or horror, it reminds of Stephen King's The Stand, Under the Dome and Dumas Key. These great books and Remde share the same, multi layer storyline, an extremely large cast of characters and unforgettable heroes with truly evil adversaries. All have an excellent pace, which is important considering the length of the book.
I am fairly certain I haven't heard this guy before, which is a shame considering I've listened to over 500 novels. He is amazing. His accents are spot on and each character is easily discernible.
I loved the CIA character from Boston. He brought humor into the story.
Reamde is the massive new tome from Neal Stephenson. Unlike most of his other novels, this is a more traditional modern-day thriller, albeit chock full of his own brand of humor and techie geek references.
Just make sure you're ready to settle down for a long haul. This book is over 1000 pages, over 38 hours on audio.
It's not that so much happens in the book, but rather that Stephenson describes everything, often from the perspectives of multiple characters, jumping back to recap some things from their viewpoint. There IS a large cast of characters too, by the end. The advantage is that you really feel like these characters are old friends after spending so much time with them. On the downside, however, I think the characters still don't feel as deep and fully realized as they should be.
The story stays interesting with Stephenson's dry, often geeky humor. The writing is pretty solid as well, and the story is constantly taking unexpected small turns. Hilarious at times, it involves a double kidnapping of the main character Zula, who is first taken by Russian mobsters, who head out to take revenge on the designer of the computer virus Reamde, only to stumble upon a cell of Al Qaida terrorists, who kidnap Zula again.
This is all outrageous and sometimes humorous, sometimes tense. You can tell Stephenson knows a lot of stuff about what he's writing, from all things tech to subtle cultural references and traits. He must surely have traveled to these locations in order to describe them so fully, places such as Xiamen, China; Manila, Philippines; Prohibition Creek, Idaho.
Someone else said that this book is pieces of action followed by long infodumps, and that about sums it up. This pattern seems to repeat endlessly from beginning to end, until you really expect it. Other things I saw are weaknesses: some strange Deus Ex Machina moments, which shouldn't have been needed in a book of this size; and the fact that the title of Reamde doesn't seem to be THAT central to the book. To the first half, certainly. But later on it's clear the story is about stopping the terrorists rather than the meager threat posed by the computer virus.
I think the audio book added a lot to the experience, as the narrator did a lot of different characters and accents well (not perfectly, but passably), and inflected just the right amount of sarcasm to the humorous sections.
If you're looking for a LONG thriller, are into gaming and/or MMORPGs, you will probably enjoy this book.
"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
"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.
"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.
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.
"interesting game idea but too much gunplay"
I liked hearing about how the world of t-rrain worked but so much of the book was about specifics of a fairly uninteresting gun fight. Also I found it pretty hard to follow who some of the characters were in this audio format. Not sure if that's my fault or the story's.
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