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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

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Story

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  • Overall
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  • Story
  • Mike
  • San Antonio
  • 06-23-13

Dripping with details, twist and turns!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Outstanding book with great technical depth. Current topics related to computer security. Character development was outstanding!<br/>

Who was your favorite character and why?

Richard Forthrast was my favorite character as each chapter relieved more about him as an individual. Outstanding development by Neil Stephenson!

What does Malcolm Hillgartner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Overall the narration was good, not the best that I have heard but the speed and character diversity was enough to make it a very enjoyable listen, especially with the length of this book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Some portions were light enough to make you laugh overall the suspense kept you on the edge with anticipation.

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Well written and engaging

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. Sadly, a 38 hour book isn't one that can be listened to in one sitting, but I did the best I could. I started listening to Reamde on Thursday afternoon, and finished Saturday afternoon.

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Very enthusiastic about this one!

What made the experience of listening to Reamde the most enjoyable?

Hillgartner's reading was perfect--and I listen to a lot of books. He was so good I actually looked him up and looked over what else he's narrated with an eye to buying! Yes, that good.

What did you like best about this story?

The pacing and storytelling were terrific--it's one of those interwoven tales where we follow several plots, with several characters. Usually one or more are just a bit duller, but in this book, they were all great. The author did not play favorites. I am a Stephenson fan, and have read in paper both Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. I just bought on Audible Cryptonomicon, and have the Baroque Cycle in the wishlist.

Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

See my comments above....

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A cracking great yarn

If you could sum up Reamde in three words, what would they be?

cracking great yarn

What was one of the most memorable moments of Reamde?

first love scene between Sokolov and British spy

Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no but I will, he is a fantastic reader

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Zula beating the baddies on the cliff

Any additional comments?

loved every minute of it!

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THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE PERFORMANCE, NOT THE BOOK

Would you listen to Reamde again? Why?

No. The reader's enunciation was maddeningly over the top, and the only reason I kept listening was because the book itself was so good.

What other book might you compare Reamde to and why?

Some people might be upset that Stephenson isn't writing science fiction here, but a good story is a good story, no matter the setting or content. I don't know a darn thing about video games or guns, and this story basically revolved around those two subcultures. Guess what? I was on the edge of my seat the whole time anyway. Stephenson's not for everybody, but if you made it through the Baroque Cycle and you didn't previously have an interest in the world economic system in the Enlightenment period, you'll probably like this one too.

Would you be willing to try another one of Malcolm Hillgartner’s performances?

No. Hillgartner's pedantic performance probably added an extra two hours to the length of the book. It's sad, because he did a great job with differentiating the myriad of character voices and accents that were thrown at him in a book this epic, but he insisted on putting a glottal stop between words that end and start with consonants. I've never heard any other audiobook sound so stilted. It took me out of the story and annoyed me to no end. A good audiobook performer needs the confidence to elide occasionally--you know, like normal human beings do. This book might be a good choice to read the old-fashioned way, for just that reason.

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Story get lost in all the violence

What would have made Reamde better?

More story and less violent "action". What could have been an interesting and entertaining mystery story gets lost in violent bloodletting. If you prefer gore to mystery and torture to plot...this is your book. I've read many of Stephenson's books and he always includes "action" but this is the first that drove me to turn it off and erase it in disgust. I'll be more careful in future.

What was most disappointing about Neal Stephenson’s story?

A good story lost in the gore. A death by a thousand cuts, blood oozing in puddles on the ground. Now if you enjoy torture...you'll probably love it.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator cannot fix the writing...he did a good job with what was written.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Humanity has become numb with gratuitous violence, he's feeding the affliction. It could have been a fine mystery about computer gaming and computer crime if he had not become addicted to torture and gore.

Any additional comments?

I am seriously disappointed in such a great writer...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Pretty awsome

This book started out kind of slow but then picked up rapidly. The story was good except for the ending I felt was a bit abrupt for such a long and intricate novel. Over all it was an extremely entertaining and action packed story I would recommend to all.

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For anyone who lives within the two worlds

What made the experience of listening to Reamde the most enjoyable?

Having personal experience within the dual worlds of fantasy gaming and reality,,, this romp touches on both, and turns each on its respective ear. Sometimes reality is more fantasy than fantasy. The characters are believable, the shifts flowing and the characters are fleshed out nicely. This will perhaps be the only book of Mr Stephensons i find myself liking, but like it i do, Immensely.

What other book might you compare Reamde to and why?

Reamde and Ready Player One resonate in many ways. Though they are very different, both touch on the online/fantasy/roleplaying lifestyle, its appeal and shortcomings. The threads flowing through both are different in feel and texture, but a certain joie de vivre marks these books as kindred and has made me set them side by side on my favorites shelf. The third both of this silly and wonderful trilogy of sorts is Redshirts. Again vastly different in its content, and yet......................................

Which scene was your favorite?

as a gamer, I would have to claim the personal favorite of egdod wandering through the desert while a host of thousands is trying to protect him, and a ravening horde is attempting to attack him. To be honest i wish the gaming world were just a bit more fleshed out.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

extreme reaction? No, something a little more subtle. I left this world,,,, satisfied. I closed the book as if i were headed home from a visit with friends,,, friends whose lives will continue,, hopefully with a little less excitement moving forward, but still they wont cease to exist even though i am no longer there to watch......

Any additional comments?

Only that now, i want to play the silly game,,, the one that doesnt really exist. . I wish Mr Stephenson would write more books like this. I have bought all his other books for my son and attempted to read them myself, but alas, i simply cannot get into them. This one i will treasure and my son had to buy his own copy.

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Riveting!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely, and without reservation. There's no shortage of action, but the major characters all have some depth to them. The women are not just damsels in distress or bimbos, and they get their fair share of the action. Even the characters closest to being standard action antiheroes - they're all a lot closer to Han Solo than to Aragorn - do some thinking and planning.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Reamde?

Olivia's reaction when her contact said, '...and then one guy said something like, "Holy s#%*! It's Sokolov!"'<br/><br/>And let's not forget, "Why is it all right for James Bond?"

Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I think this was the first of his performances that I've listened to.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There were lots of funny moments, and the other folks at the gym may have wondered what I was listening to. Fortunately, I was somewhere else when the colostomy jokes cropped up.<br/><br/>Although there were some poignant moments (e.g. observation of the hand-stitched quilt in the RV), none of them were in the "make you cry" category.

Any additional comments?

I couldn't bring myself to turn it off during about the last 6 hours of the recording. It had been obvious for some time that the story was heading in a certain direction, and I couldn't wait for the bad guys to get what was coming to them, or to find out which of the good guys got to finish off the leader of the bad guys.

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Wow - Stephenson and Hillgartner - Amazing Combo!

Where does Reamde rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Reamde is my FAVORITE audiobook I've listened to so far. I was a big fan of Stephenson before diving in with this, and while this may not be his best book, it still shows what a fantastic writer Stephenson is. His ability to illustrate moments and create really full, nuanced characters that you completely have a feel for as if they were your own friends, is quite amazing. And Hillgartner, my god, this man does an incredible job at bringing all the characters and narration to life. Really fantastic, fun ride.

What other book might you compare Reamde to and why?

The only other Stephenson book I'm intimately familiar with is Cryptonomicon and it certainly bears a resemblance, in Stephenson's sweeping prose that often veer into tangents of seemingly unimportant information, yet provide a richness for the reader that I find really amazing. It's a very different story than Cryptonomicon in that events are often retold from 3 or 4 or 5 different perspectives as they each character (or set of) experiences the same event but from a different angle. His skill in constructing these scenes is very evident in this book. Think Pulp Fiction but in novel form.

Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Nope. But he is absolutely top-notch. He brought the book to life in a way that even reading it myself probably wouldn't have. His narrative voice is excellent as he really brings life to Stephenson's witty voice but his ability to morph into any one of the many many characters Stephenson has in this book is quite remarkable. There's a multitude of accents Hillgartner displays skill with in this reading and it really goes a long way to bringing the story to life in a great way.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Often didn't want to stop listening to it. And would pretty much take any chance I could to pop in headphones and continue the ride.

Any additional comments?

Only qualm I have with this book is that many of the events occur and feel like deus ex machina is happening or that when certain events happen it is a bit unbelievable that certain characters seem to find each other at the same place at the same time. If you can suspend your disbelief, which I found it easy enough to, it's really a fun listen.