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 start of this book was really slow. So slow, I almost gave up on it. But I'm really glad I didn't as it was ultimately a can't-put-it-down listen. I had to laugh at some of the more outrageous plot elements, but it was kind of like a James Bond film in that it's a good idea to just suspect your disbelief at the ridiculous. It wasn't a question of whether the good guys would win or not, but who would get the last shot (and which "red shirts" would bite the dust). It was exciting and fun and features the trademark strong female characters that are prominent in Stephenson's writing. Recommended.
The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity. --Robert Anthony Contentment is, after all, simply refined indolence. --Thomas C.
I've enjoyed most of Neal Stephenson's books, but this one was my favorite of his recent ones. Anathem was good but dragged quite a bit and I never really got drawn into the characters. Crytonomicon was the last book of his that I really, really enjoyed, so I am happy to see a return to form here.
The story is sprawling and relentless and deeply enjoyable! I ended up staying up all night to finish it once I was nearing the last fourth. The characters pull you in and you can't help but grow to love them as they take off on their crazy adventure. Super enjoyable crazy adventure that seems just like the last half of Snow Crash but even more over the top.
One of my favorite scenes is when a few of the characters hit up a Cabelas to stock up on gear- their take on the store, and what they purchased and why is really funny.
A criticism you could easily make here is that coincidences pile on coincidences. Yes - this happens. Go with it. Stephenson ties it all up at the end, and it does work out.
Unlike many of his books, this is not a deep meditation on LIFE or CODE or LANGUAGE -at the same time, this book is not really shallow. He's moved from deep themes explorartion to character driven stories & this one is a fine novel that you will really enjoy.
The story was quite interesting, a novel combination of subjects, with some funny and interesting insights. Story was well read too. However, I think the book would have been much better at half the length, there is too much irrelevant detail, it detracts from the pace of the story. When the story reaches a certain level of tension, you don't want to hear about things that don't matter.
Prepare to clear you schedule for when you want to listen to the last five hours of the book. I literally couldn't stop listening to it and only slept two hours before getting up and going to class, but it was well worth it! My first Neal Stephenson book, and will be checking out more soon.
I admit it, I am addicted to World of Warcraft and this is what attracted me to this book. Reamde is most definitely a book for geeks BUT also for those who love spy thrillers, stories set in exotic locations, mysteries, big business stories and on and on. The plot twists were many but masterfully handled. I am in awe of the authors ability to keep control of the story line as it wends its way around the globe. The characters were well developed, and there were many to develop, but none came before its time.
If you like mysteries, thrillers, travel stories, computer lore, stories that help you see how another fellow thinks you will like Reamde.
I'm a designer (interiors and graphics) with an English degree. I recovered my love of reading after a disastrous bout with grad school.
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.
Neal Stephenson does a fantastic job of sharing new and different perspectives. This novel has introduced me to the complexed world of multi-player gaming, the devotion and mindset of terrorist cell members, the mental patterns of the uber successful as well as the more common perspective of tactical military professionals.
Stephenson's witty and dry humor approaches without warning.
The story extends in the moments where you feel that a resolution is close at hand, giving us more bang for our buck.
I'm very impressed with the attention paid to important but commonly ignored facts of life such as hunger, ammunition, bodily functions etc.
A joy to hear.
I'm a hardcore listener! I find time for a min of 6 books a month. Sci-Fi & Fantasy is mostly where I live, but I can stretch to others.
Superb listen. Well developed characters. Just enough interwoven plots, with plausible reality. Contemporary fiction (I hope) that made it VERY difficult to put down. The limiting factor being that it is nearly impossible to listen to all of it in one sitting. Another excellent piece from Stephenson, possibly better that cyber-punk.
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.
I absolutely loved this book. It kept me guessing right to the very end of the book with it's many twists and turns both in the plot geographically in the real world and the extra dimension of the internet world crossing continents with a click of a button. It was Amazing how creative this author truly is. For every adult who has ever played an internet game this will lead you to a world where everything about these games suddenly makes more sense and has its own economic effect in the real world. I loved the intrique of the story line and the many individual personalities, how they each ticked and then intwined with each other in the culmination of a really well written book. A must for anyone who enjoys a really good read that is as current and uptodate as you are likely to get.
"Starts off well but loses its way"
I have previously listened to Snow Crash and thought that was brilliant and Reamde is along the same lines at least initially but i find that Stephenson for all his good ideas and characters loses his way with the story and indulges himself too much when he gets into the details of the story, which i personally find sucks you out of the world he has created.
I also feel that this was a brilliant premise and could have been taken much further and on a grander scale but he focuses on his little bunch of albeit brilliant characters and their travels round the world. Halfway through there are lot of characters and most of them do not have much of a part to play in the overall story.
More momentum needed in the middle part and a grander overall view and this could have been superb.
I thought the person who read it was pretty good though a lof of his accents were the same and sometimes differentiating betweent he character was sometimes tricky.
"Read Me Now"
Looking for something fast paced, action packed and with a modern now-shock theme, look no further. ReaMde is a gung ho ride form start to finish. The narration for the majority is good, but a UK citizen will be listening in wonderment to some of the "accents" portrayed from our shores but its all in good fun and the characters are likeable and easy to imagine. The story arc is contrived and more of a comic novel than a work of insight so although the plot becomes awkward and slightly ridiculous at the end, one just has to go along with the ride and consume buckets of virtual popcorn for the summer blockbuster yarn this tries and succeeds at being. Don't wait too long to read this as the concepts are already becoming fact and it really is a novel of yester-moment. Fun and frothy but flighty. One for the beach.
"Over-long, simplistic and a poor reader."
This is a simple story stretched out to extraordinary length by the inclusion of unnecesary details. As a result the plot moves foward very slowly and the book alternates between good action sequences and periods of extreme dullness, where almost nothing seems to happen, but in excruciating detail. The reader, Malcolm Hillgartner, just cant do accents. His English accent ( I am English) is just embarrassing and comes from the 1940's, "Jones the Terrorist" is supposed to be Welsh, with an upper class English accent and Seamus' Boston accent comes and goes at random. I ploughed my way through this and by the end I had no idea why I hadnt scrapped it at the end of Book 1.
"Does not seem like 38 hours"
Like most of Stephenson's books this is first class. I have to admit that the first hour or two it did drag but put up with this and the book becomes a gem. Well writen as usual by Stephenson but the narration by Malcolm Hillgartner is really well done and a joy to listen to. I am down to the last 3 hours and dont want it to finish. Will be hard pushed to get something of this quality again.
"Reamde - read me you would be foll not to."
Love this book! I have been a long time fan of Stephenson and as I have started to drive an hour to work needed something to pass the time. Reamde is just great. Funny, clever, exciting and most of all a fun listen. Well up there with his older stuff and the best I have listen to for ages. I listen to the last part whilst out running and actually whooped at the ending. Really great and worth anyones credit.
"Keeps your attention..."
Maintains your interest throughout and entertaining enough, with decent characterisation. Only real flaw in my opinion is a number of unlikley co-incidences and personalities kind of means you have to put your assesment of this into suspension to enjoy the book. Typically you have to do that for most narratives, but particularly for Reamde. I enjoyed this listen though, and would certainly recommend to those of us who like a good yarn and some duration-heft to our listening material.
"Much too slow"
This is the first audio book I've given up with, and not even a third of the way through. I found the plot developed so slowly that I lost interest. When I gave up and read the synopsis on Wikipedia, I'm glad I gave up as I was also having trouble believing the plot and it looks like it gets even more unbelievable past the point I got up to!
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