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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Sam
  • Clifton Hill, Australia
  • 10-21-11

complex and satisfying

A great story - I loved it as it rollercoastered through a contemporary interconnected world. Complex plot with plenty of detail, but also fluid enough to easily draw the listener along at a breakneck pace.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Thrill ride from start to end

I was a bit put off by Stephenson after Cryptonomicon, but he more than makes up for it in REAMDE. The characters are cerebral and distinct, each with their own quirks that come out brilliantly in the dialog.

The plot is continuously shifting, and each turn is punctuated by the resilience of the book's primary protagonist. No slow muddled storyline (which was my biggest gripe with Crypto) in REAMDE. Also, Stephenson show off his real 'nerd cred', which is as always technically accurate and non-embellished.

The narration is second to none. Hillgartner pulls off Russian, English, and CHinese accents with authenticity, and he often does it in the same breath.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Great Story, Decent Narration-Aside from Accents

As fans of Neal Stephenson know, he deserves the often used moniker "Master Storyteller." Reamde combines the adventure, character development, and technical acumen for which he is famous with real-time real world settings (Seattle, British Columbia, China...) not employed since his novel Zodiac in 1988. Reamde has all the technological cyber wizardry of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon combined with modern gangsters, spies, and international intrigue. Reamde has the brilliant Stephenson ideas packed into his science fiction books with the accessibility of a story any Tom Clancy fan would certainly appreciate as well as dedicated Stephenson science fiction fans.

As fans of audio books know, narration is an essential part of any audio book. Although Malcolm Hillgartner has an excellent voice and delivery in general, he continually slides from Slavic accents into a weird accent as much Mexican-American as Hungarian or Russian. Sadly, his Chinese accents sound extremely Mexican-American, and not at all Asian. Sorry, Mr. Hillgartner, but if you cannot do an accent perfectly please do not even attempt it. It is distracting, and it detracts noticeably from this wonderful story.

38 of 43 people found this review helpful

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Out of Order Nonsense

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Great thriller but minor bumps

1 Too many numbered and lettered lists
2. occasional middle-aged man phrases, even when it's not Richard (no, I don't have to provide examples)
3. if it's going to be this long (which I like - in this case, the length and detail almost feel like an attribute of the plot and the worlds it describes, and it doesn't hurt that I'm listening on a 3 week business jaunt with two weekend breaks) and it's going to rely on a combination of preposterous but entertaining coincidences, sometimes the speculation by the characters ought to be more off the mark; everyone is just too dang smart.
4. Seamus - Mr. Hilgartner needs to dramatically improve his Boston (southie says the narrator) accent. It would have been much less distracting to simply speak basic American English.
5. Too much love for firearms. I mean, it sounds like Mr. Stephenson loves them. I like nice guns too but the net effect is that almost everyone in the book, at least characters who get more than cursory descriptions, are in love with guns.
6. I forget.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A fun action-thriller for geeks

There's a recent, but small trend in Science Fiction: stories set in present day. No aliens, or space ships. No time travel. No speculation about "the future".

This new breed of SF novel deals with the here and now. The assumption here is that technology is changing our lives so quickly, that the traditional themes and explorations of SciFi can take place without changing the setting. Our current society is alien enough!

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition was an SF book famously set "5 years in the past" and managed to be cutting edge while dealing with the culture and technology of the mid 1990s.
ReamDe can be seen as that type of book.

The basic plot: unknown criminals and/or terrorists write a tiny little virus meant to operate in the virtual world of an online, multi-player game. This has unforeseen consequences on people who live their lives in the real world. We follow the action as the chaos spreads across the entire world. Both our world, and the virtual world.

ReamDe is definitely a thriller. The sense of danger is real, and exciting. Still, there is humor, mostly based on the idea that huge world shaping events are mostly triggered by a collection of accidents, coincidences, and decisions made by key persons; and that it all could have been avoided if anyone involved had a view of the bigger picture.

It's also a whodunnit, and not even the "villains" know exactly what they've actually done.

Like all Neal Stephenson books, the devil is in the details. The obsessive/compulsive detail of Geeks and their tech.
In this world hackers are "computer geeks", billionaires are "money geeks" and spys and assasins are "gun and combat geeks". Stephenson seems to make the point that the only difference is what they've happened to focus on.

Compared to Stephenson's other books, Reamde is a summer blockbuster action ride. Like something Michael Bay would produce... if he had a background in math and computer science.
Of course this is a Neal Stephenson book, so it's still packed with plenty of tech, philosophy, and politocal commentary for the academic types, and hipster science nerds that are probably his main audience.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ee
  • 05-21-15

Jumbled up

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and Recommended

Some great characters and an interesting story line extended a bit beyond optimum but worth the credit and a satisfying thriller none the less. It could have been trimmed a bit but that's a quibble that cost it one star IMHO. It's quite unlike the more dynamic Snow Crash still it shows Stephenson's range and he is quite at home with this rather convoluted series of crisis inducing mistakes.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 05-09-12

Really Unbelievable

I guess this book is a pretty standard thriller, which is fine, but did not impress me. It is NOT science fiction. The narration was well done, handling the myriad of characters well, although it may have been, understandably, uninspired. I was annoyed by the utter stupidity of the characters, who act in ways that made no sense at all, yet were convenient for the author. I was annoyed by the wildly unbelievably string of events necessary to move the story. Although there was a lot of action, I found most of the action uninteresting because it was so implausible I didn???t really care. There were a couple of scenes I found exciting, a couple of lines that were funny, and a very few scenes with appealing language and evocative imagery, but far less than I need to really enjoy a novel. Finally I found the novel lacked a spirit that transcended the story. This is a standard thriller with a few geek twists, but I always hope for more than standard.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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another Stephenson winner

I was eagerly awaiting this story & zipped right through it as soon as it arrived. LOVED it- my favorite since Cryptonomicon.

The story is classic Stephenson, and the characters are just crazy. There are a bunch of folks you end up following around and of course their backstories are all just bonkers but awesome. I was in awe how he brought everyone together at the end for the big showdown. Yes, it's a 100 page gun battle. A totally crazy, somewhat hilarious, pure Stephenson ending. Go listen! I was so sad to have this end, eagerly awaiting his next story.

42 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • AudioLemon
  • 09-21-17

Pedestrian Spy Novel. Expected more

Low on geek culture, limited science, code, gaming culture. High on cheap spy thriller. There is very limited reference to game that is played - if you replaced the game with cheap sex scenes you would essentially have the exact same book but it would possibly be truer to its form as a pedestrian spy novel. The narration was good. No single character stood out, I didn't care for any of the characters, very little if any tension, predictable ending that you just had to wait out... x shoots y, y dodges behind cover, y creeps up behind z looking for an opening... terrible really.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Hyperspacial
  • 08-13-17

entertaining

Great book if you want to settle back and be carried away by the story. if you over think it there are some implausible coincidence but it's a work of fiction not real life so get over it and enjoy the adventure

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tuomo
  • 07-14-17

Cool story, but bloated.

The exciting story could (and probably should) have been told in less than half the words. The characters were interesting and most of their motivations refreshingly reasonable. The excessive detail, sceneries and tedious character development (in both the story world and the virtual one within it) is likely to cause you to nod off, unless you really enjoy a story telling pace that nearly rivals that of Tolkien's.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-29-17

A great thriller with one aspect that nearly spoiled it

Totally loved this book from start to end, although the end was pretty simple to predict from about two thirds, it was a pleasure listening to it unfold, tying up the loose ends.

That truly awful Scottish accent though... sorry Mr Narrator, but back to voice school for some top up lessons please. I can't comment negatively on the Russians and Canadians, Americans or Chinese, they were all great, but I happen to be Scottish and it made me cringe big time, nearly spoiled my enjoyment, I was downright delighted that particular character wasn't in the book all the way through.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Owen
  • 01-26-17

Disappointing

Starts brilliantly with the focus on internet/gaming intrigue but fades around a third of the way into sub-par cookie-cutter spy yarn. It never recovers. Very disappointing listen.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sina Samangooei
  • 11-27-16

detailed but just boring

it just fails and falls flat. it goes nowhere and says nothing. it describes and didn't explore. anathem takes you there, cryptonomicon makes you understand... this just bores you.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. T. Pigden
  • 10-18-16

great fun but a bit too long

I felt that some sub plots were over developed and didn't really add to overall narrative other than by weight
very well read apart from a couple of dodgy accents - the Scottish one was particularly irritating but thankfully not a major character
I would go for another book with same author and narrator though but probably I'll wait for a suitably long business trip

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Maxxxxxx
  • 03-17-16

Great story, terrible accents

This is a great story on the whole, surprisingly exciting and fun for a story with so much infodumping, has a great array of characters from different backgrounds. Mostly good narration apart from terrible, bordering on offensive (I'm thinking of the Irish accent here) accents.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 11-15-17

Not for me

I must listen to 5 or 6 books per month and give 4 and 5 stars to the vast majority. This week I have struggled with 2 x 1 stars - this being the first. The reviews all seemed to point to something I'd really enjoy but I could not get involved with this at all and finally gave up after about an hour's listening. Perhaps it was rather too American for my taste, I really am not sure - other than I wasn't pulled into the narrative in any way whatsoever. I hate to give a thumbs down to writers and readers alike but I just can't see what the other reviewers are raving about.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 02-26-17

It gets good

The book starts well and keeps you interested for the first five or so hours. I then found it dragged a bit, possibly as I realised quite how much I had left to go. However, stick with it as the last 15 hours are real metaphorical page turners.

I was speaking to my mother about it who asked her normal questions about books I read/listen to: "does it have a spy? A submarine? A helicopter?"

I found myself answering in the affirmative to all of these so she said she wasn't interested in it. However, don't let this put you off as they are all comparatively minor bits of the story (sorry Olivia) and it is otherwise a rip roaring yarn (all 39 hours of it) about human struggling through very difficult circumstances and pulling together.

The one downside was the accents used with the welsh bad guy sounded like Sean Connery. It's annoying but not ultimately fatal to the story and the narrator does well otherwise.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful