32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Geeks and gangsters,
This review is from: Reamde (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the minute this mighty brick of a book came through my front door my life had to be put entirely on hold, and I scoffed it, as is my won't, late into the night till my eyes were red, day after day, until the thing was done. The result of such a total immersion is that I feel like I have been on a long trip to some of the most beautiful, and some of the weirdest places in the world. Along the way I have made some fascinating friends, not a few of who struck me as highly unsavoury upon first introduction.
Set in the present day, the key premise is a massive multi-player online game, designed from the ground up to have global economic consequences. These consequences then ramify chaotically to have progressively more drastic real-world consequences. The activities of hackers and game-freaks collide with those of gangsters and terrorists, from which unfolds a story that's a bit like a slapstick season of 24. One of Stephenson's great strengths is his facility with large scale action sequences, and in this book he excels himself, as the pace of the action seldom drops. The book is also constructed such that various combinations of protagonists are scattered around the globe, at any given time, and is again rather 24-like in the way we skip between windows, so to speak, dropping in on various groupings, as the hectic narrative careens ever onward. Stephenson also has a superb sense of humour, the dark and fatalistic cynicism of an essentially decent man, long past disappointment with the wickedness of the world. He is never beyond finding the funny side in even the most distressing situations, and there were more than a few belly laughs in the course of my journey. Done with proper attention and production values, this would make a fabulous movie or mini-series.
I toyed with giving this book four stars, because, as some will know, Stephenson is capable of writing truly great literature, as exemplified by his hugely erudite, and microscopically researched Baroque Cycle. This book is not great literature, and I'm sure was never meant to be. Neither is it the high concept Science Fiction of the remarkable Anathem. In general density, both in terms of writing and depth of historical background, it is closer to Snow Crash than Cryptonomicon. But clearly Stephenson has learned so much since the days of Snow Crash, as evidenced by just how soon and how hard one finds oneself caught up in the predicaments of, and rooting for, the novel's sympathetic central characters. Instead, what one has here is a non-stop roller-coaster action-comedy techno-thriller, written with what ultimately turns out to be a life-affirming gusto. Thus, on the basis that I would not be comparing like with like, even if from the pen of the same author, I will not attempt to evaluate it by comparisons with Stephenson's other books. I give it its five starspurely on its own merits and for the huge enjoyment I had from reading it.
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Initial post: 15 Apr 2012, 17:10:05 BST
I would like to compliment this reviewer for producing for me the perfect review. So many reviewers seem to think that they need to tell you so many details that I would prefer to discover when reading the book for myself. This review gives nothing away but describes perfectly how Reamde differs from Stephenson's other works and why it is so good dispite that. I give the book and this review 5 stars :)
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