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on 10 August 2013
Given some of the mind-journeys Stephenson has taken us on, this one became a (reasonably fun) running gunfight quite early on.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 August 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Forthrast Family - A typical American family? Probably not. Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, ex-small time drug runner, haunted by the Furious Muses (echoes of his previous girlfriends), now the owner of T'Rain, the world's most successful online game; his younger brother Jacob "Jake" Forthrast, a born again Christian and Survivalist; his elder brother John Forthrast, Vietnam veteran with two high-tech artificial legs; his sister Patricia, killed by a bolt of lightning, and his adopted niece Zula Forthrast who walked to Sudan from Eritrea to escape a war.

Normal they might not be, but when Zula is kidnapped by the Russian Mafia after her boyfriend failed to deliver on a dodgy deal, they react as any family would and pull together to try and find a way to rescue her.

This book is enormous! It is 1000 pages long and none of that is filler. What this length of story delivers is a tremendous and detailed back story for all of the vast array of characters, from the Forthrast family, to Abdullah Jones, the enigmatic Welsh Jihadist, to Marlon, a Chinese gold farmer turned virus writer and many many more.

This book is also a very American story. The Forthrast family may not be an ordinary family, and even though a lot of unusual things happen to them, these events are often contrasted with the more ordinary side of American life, including things like shopping at Walmart, RVs, Starbucks, family reunions, Thanksgiving, gunshops etc. At some points in the story I felt I saw some flashes of the writing of that master of the bizarre American story, Thomas Pynchon - but in a much more accessible and readable form.

The story features believable and beautifully developed characters, fast action, a superb plot, a brilliant ending, and even some tongue in cheek humour (A Legendary Deluxe Platinum Collectors Edition of T'Rain - complete with Bonus Material, anyone?) I haven't even mentioned the computer virus from which this book takes its name! There really are stories within stories within stories!

You can probably tell I really enjoyed this book, but I should probably confess to being a huge fan of Neal Stephenson. I have all his books including the wonderful Cryptonomicon, and my own personal favourite The Diamond Age, so this book would have had to have tried very hard for me not to like it. It is different to his other work though and is easily his most accessible book to date. The world in which this story is set is not a world of historical events, science fiction or fantasy (other than the elements surrounding the online game T'Rain), it is simply our contemporary world.

Overall - 5 stars! You will invest a considerable amount of time in reading this book. It took me two weeks to finish it - but I have to say that this was time very well spent indeed!
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on 23 February 2015
The most engaging work of fiction I've read in years
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on 27 October 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wanted to like this book so much - Cryptonomicon is easily one of my favourite books ever, and I enjoyed the Baroque cycle immensely. Sadly, I found this book to be something of a grind to read from the start. As other reviewers have remarked, it does seem to come from the pen of a less skilled writer than we know Stephenson to be. Neal Stephenson can write with wit and intelligence, and weave complex narratives through a story seen through multiple lenses, and that is a mark of great accomplishment. None of that ability is really on display in Reamde, and it's a shame because the core story is interesting and the narrative itself has promise. It's just not executed well, and it pains me to say that.
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on 24 June 2012
This was a real slog of a book, unremarkable in pretty much every respect.
When a film you have started to watch turns out to be a turkey.... you just stop watching it.
When a CD doesn't hit the spot you just switch it off.
But for some reason I always feel I have to finish a book no matter how turgid.
I'm afraid Reamde is one of those I wish I'd never picked up; it didn't get any better.
Please read any other book by the author before you buy this one..... 'cause they are ALL a much better use of your time (and money) than this 1000 plus pages worth of not very much.
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on 30 September 2011
I have read and enjoyed everything by Neal Stephenson prior to this book. I cannot understand what he was thinking. All the promise of the first half of the novel is completely squandered by the second section. Action sequences pile-up and all interest is lost. The interesting work put in around the video game world and the company is just abandoned outright. Moreover, mistakes and inconsistencies abound - I wonder if the author or his editor even bothered to wade through the turgid final 300 pages.
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on 5 December 2011
I am a Stephenson fan but this book was a huge disappointment. It started off reasonably well but by the time I eventually reached the end I was seriously bored. Too long. Too many super hero improbable characters. Very unconvincing and excessively detailed action scenes. A jumbled concoction of pop lit and the type of pc war game my kids play. I had the sense that I was working through the phases of a computer game. Reads like an execessively detailed movie script. I will not be buying his next book
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on 30 April 2013
It's worth buying this book for the depiction of the Forthrast family and their bonkers trigger-happy family reunion alone. The snag is that the book goes on for about a 1000 pages because Stephenson needs less indulgent editing -for example, we get multiple viewpoints of the same scene, not once but again and again.

I don't mind long books but the problem is that it's pretty obvious Stephenson gets to 1000 pages, panics because the book's already too long and brings it to an abrupt ending .

If this is your first Stephenson book, go and buy Cryptonomicon instead . If you're a committed fan, you're going to buy this anyway, aren't you so I'll save my breath.
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on 20 December 2011
I have been almost worshipfully keen on Neal Stephensons work since I first came in contact with "The Diamond Age", and worked my way through his list. Each piece was differently brilliant, managed to give penetrating insight to arcane areas of the human experience, with amazing characterisation, and a delivery that spanned from techno-fetishism to humour......so it was with Great Anticipation that I discovered that another title was out.
The sad truth is that "Reamde" was ok, but something was missing. The choice to create a straight thriller resulted in a lot of back to back action sequences (which he's always been good at, don't get me wrong) which ended up just feeling a bit tired by the end. The magic just wasn't there, and I know that it'll stay on my shelf for years, while the others get taken out and re-read and lent out to people enthusiastically.

It feels like sacreliege, but I just didn't love it.
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on 19 January 2013
It took me a while to read this book but I loved every single page of it. In some places it could be seen to be contrived but I don't care, it kept me gripped, it was fantastically written, the characters had real presence and the technical references show the level of research the author must have done. I will definitely be reading more of his books. I'm a new and hopefully devoted fan!
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