Author: Neal Stephenson
Review: The size of this book is going to turn some people off. The depth of this book might do in some more, but it is exactly these things that keep Neal Stephenson fans coming back and spending a lot of time getting through them. When people see me carry this massive doorstop around (and seriously, this thing could be used as a murder weapon) they would inevitably ask me about it and the author. I would always start off by saying Stephenson writes science fiction, but then I would immediately backtrack. He writes fiction that is heavily involved with science, but not spaceships and aliens. Rather it is the cutting edge technology that infuses our lives today. But then he layers in history and philosophy in such fresh ways that it keeps me thinking about it for years to come.
As for the size of the book, it includes every aspect of the narrative in such subtle layers the story just organically builds from one level to the next. The whole time it gentle ratchets up the tension to reach one thrilling climax. What is most enjoyable of his work is the sheer amount of knowledge he lays on the reader without once relying on gratuitous explanatory text, rather he just seamlessly blends in detail descriptions and factual references into the action. One character doesn’t understand something and the expert character explains it in a very concise and clear manner. The opposite of most medical TV shows where one Doctor will explain the most basic things to another (really for the audience). Honestly I would really enjoy the other Doctor on the show to say something like “No shit Sherlock, I went to medical school too.”
This book starts out as a family drama, moves to a Russian mob story, then to a computer hacker plot, then to a terrorist attack, all building to a showdown in the mountains. I really loved as I started getting to the end and all the main players, both good and bad, were all converging together from all possible angles for the showdown of all showdowns. You could sense it coming and the pages flew by until you get the gun battle. A lot of reviewers have focused on this 150 page plus scene but it is worth it as you get to see every character reach their story’s conclusion. There is no I wonder what happened to moments at all; Stephenson covers it all.
I am giving this 4.5 stars only because I accept this just won’t be for all people. Generally 5 star means that I think if you do not like this book then there is something wrong with you. 4 stars mean I really love this book but get it that some people will not. Reamde is an amazing techno-thriller that is well worth your time investment. It is the only thing which holds me back, it is that time investment. Most books I read I know I could just gut it out and be done in a day, with Stephenson I have to accept that I cannot do this. I have to commit to several good days reading and accept all the other books I cannot read at the same time. Much like Phoebe making all the cookie varieties so they won’t feel bad about being left out, Stephenson is committing to just the one variety once and a while.
Publisher: William Morrow
Quick Review: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: I really enjoy Neal Stephenson’s books and have read several of them.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me through the Goodreads giveaway program.
Synopsis: Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Neal Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world with his brazen and brilliant fictional creations-whether he's reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon). With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace-not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton-once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high-and a new world-for the remarkable Neal Stephenson.
Author Biography: Neal Stephenson, the science fiction author, was born on October 31, 1959 in Maryland. He graduated from Boston University in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography with a minor in physics. His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984. It received little attention and stayed out of print until Stephenson allowed it to be reprinted in 2001. His second novel was Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller was published in 1988, but it was his novel Snow Crash (1992) that brought him popularity. It fused memetics, computer viruses, and other high-tech themes with Sumerian mythology. Neal Stephenson has won several awards: Hugo for Best Novel for The Diamond Age (1996), the Arthur C. Clark for Best Novel for Quicksilver (2004), and the Prometheus Award for Best Novel for The System of the World (2005). He recently completed the The Baroque Cycle Trilogy, a series of historical novels. It consists of eight books and was originally published in three volumes and Reamde. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington. Stephenson also writes under the pseudonym Stephen Bury.