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 have never been a huge fan of Neal Stephenson, and this book reminded me why. Before picking up this title, it had been several years since I'd read him, but I still have many of the same problems with his work.
- The work is unnecessarily long. Stephenson must get paid by the word, because there is a lot of unnecessary cruft in this book, descriptions that go on for way too long, and there are so many scenes that do little or nothing to advance the plot and just take up space.
- The characters are ridiculous. I tried to suspend my disbelief, but so many times while listening to this novel, I was rolling my eyes and laughing at how silly the characters and scenarios were.
- Resorts to stereotypes. Russian mafia, chinese hackers, Islamic jihadists all figure prominently in the book. The only thing missing was evil North Korean communists and German Nazis (although I guess those two examples are a little more dated). The world is so much richer than that, is this really all he could come up with?
- The game world did nothing for me. To be fair, I am not a gamer so I don't know how realistic/feasible the descriptions are. But the game world as written just didn't engage me, and seemed extraneous most of the time that it was mentioned.
- Basic technology concepts over-explained.I happen to work in an internet engineering role so I know I have a leg up on some of these things, but even my aging parents know what an IP address is. Really couldn't believe how many basic concepts were dumbed down.
- The narrator was either unfamiliar with the colloquial technology terms in the book, or was instructed to read as such. For example, when describing World of Warcraft, nobody says "double-u oh double-u," they just say "wow." This is just one example of a reading style that I found jarring.
Long story short, I did not enjoy this book and it is safe to say that I am done with Stephenson for good. I powered through the book because I paid good money for it, but ultimately felt that I wasted my time. Don't waste yours.
If you like lots of action in exotic locations and are fascinated with weaponry and other guy things (construction, navigation, commando tactics, dotted quads, choo choo trains, WoW, etc.), you might enjoy this book. It???s chock full of that stuff-- but Jane Austen it???s not. The author has a complicated plot to unroll, and he isn???t going to waste time carefully sculpting his prose.
The characters are hokey: a Russian special forces guy so macho that he once survived by drinking his own urine and sucking the blood out of small animals, who spends the entire book dropping, rolling, and chambering a round; a beautiful Eurasian spy; an international band of plucky young hackers and misfits who must save each other (and the world) from the sinister machinations of arch-terrorist Abdallah Jones and his sadistic henchmen. The plot depends on ridiculous coincidences and implausible decisions to keep the action moving. There is also some bloat, as the author just can???t help himself from going on and on about the technical details of this or that: there is a dialogue about great circle flight paths that simply will not end. If the villain is about to entomb Our Heroine in a prison of his own fiendish design, you will be sure to learn about the source of the lumber, the dimensions and spacing of the nails, etc., etc., etc. It???s unnecessary-- just have Mr. Terrorist lock her up, give his arrogant monologue, laugh his evil laugh, and make his grand exit, being sure to forget some key detail that will enable heroine girl to make her ingenious escape. Okay??
That said, there???s no denying that this is a page turner. I'm sure that this rat bastard Jones is going to get what???s coming to him, but I plan to finish the thing, just to see it happen.
The Reader: In general the reader has a pretty good voice for this kind of book and he gives a decent performance, but Lordy, the man cannot do accents. If an American reader is competent at English accents, the character will just seem like a Brit, but a lame accent inevitably makes him sound like a pompous jerk. There is another character, supposedly from Boston, who seems to suffer from some completely arbitrary vowel-distortion syndrome. The Russians sound ok though.
Thrilling, complex, long
Lots and lots of twists and turns - it is really 3 or 4 books in one.
Reamde reminded me a lot of William Gibson's recent work - a sort of hyper-present-day-reality with strong female leads. The length is typical of Stephenson's writing - full of wandering paragraphs and delightful details. You can love the musings of a talented mind, or get frustrated that the plot is not always central to the exposition.
This isn't the typical Stephenson book. I've found his recent work to be somewhat plodding. This one is a fast-paced thriller with good characters and an enjoyable performance. It has the pacing of his earlier books (Snowcrash, Zodiac) rather than the more recent work.
Jodi Picoult is my favorite author for various reasons including that she answers my emails. I am also interested in most crime dramas.
yes, I remember it clearly
there were so .many characters you meet along the way.
I think the 2 young travelers he meets on the train
Oh and the gentle giant he meets briefly when a fight breaks out somewhat near the end
no, it's almost impossible
I seriously did not think I would get so engrossed in this book that I would take my Mp3 player and walk around the house with headphones on because I could stop listening to it, but it was and I did
Fan of Fiction, And really really good naratives.
To tell the truth it was a little hard to get thru the first hour.. But not until the deal went down did this start to pick up traction. It was then that the story began to have different perspectives/viewpoint that told the story from that characters viewpoint. It is simple amazing. That and its many in dept but not minuscule draping of scenery and scents and sounds. Neal paints a fantastic portrait and its pallet is large and varied . The Narrator is amazing in his vocalizations of all the characters. To the point that you knew who was talking with out the need of the narrator to explain.
I loved the twisting storylines, Subplots, stories within stories. It is constucted in such a way as to hook the reader/listener into the fabric of the story without ever feeling that you are being pulled along like a child by a parent.
Malcolm, mastery of vocalizing each charater and giving them distinct accents and speech pattern is quite marvelous to put it plainly. I would say he could narrate anything and make it interesting.
This is not a one sitting book, 40 hours is a bit of time to dedicate to one book.. At times i could not get enough and even now am sadden that the tale has come to an end. These are characters I will miss.
Could not put it down, NS is still able to create a panoply of characters that engage, tour de force of suspense, entertaining waste of time but ultimately not satisfying. I don't remember much of the characters, nor the story. Coming from the author who brought us some truly stupefyingly awesome masterpieces [my favorite is 'Anathem'], this is mediocre.
It was good - addictively so but WAY TO LONG for the story it wanted to tell. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but it became ridiculous in its crazy story connections and plot twists. At first it felt like Snow Crash, but then veered a bit out of control.
If you like Neal Stephenson, you should love this. While Diamond Age is my favorite of his works, I think his skills improve with each book he writes.
The only book of his I've read and been underwhelmed by was Snow Crash, and I feel like Reamde was his return to, and successful re-imagining of, the cyber-punk, MMORPG-based novel.
Thanks Neal! Keep 'em coming!
AWESOME! This guy is among the best audio book performers I've ever heard! As much as I enjoyed the book, I actually think Hillgartner's reading made it even more enjoyable than it would have been in print. His accents were fun and well-differentiated! I always knew who was talking, and it spiced up some already atomically spicy characters.
Chinese computer viruses, Al-Qaeda, the Russian mafia. All they have in common is a Midwestern farm girl.
While exiting a building set on fire to escape the terrorists who are hot in pursuit, one of the characters feels vaguely guilty about using the emergency exit, since it's really only supposed to be used in emergencies. The book is full of such subtly drawn, amusing, and realistic psychological moments.
Neal Stephenson at his best. This could have used a little editing to tighten it up, but this was so much more fun and readable than the Baroque Cycle.
"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.
"You will be disappointed"
I found it impossible to listen to this book because the narration is so poor. Malcolm Hillgarther just can't do accents. Think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Its a shame that about 50% of the characters are not American. Just awful.
The story itself is entertaining and engaging. If you like neal Stephenson's style you will like this. Buy the book instead
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