Review of 'reamde'

reamde by Neal Stephenson

Another stormer from Neal Stephenson.

A young woman Zula, employee of the on-line gaming company T'Rain, is kidnapped by the Russian mafia when a computer virus causes them some problems. Zula manages to trace the source of the virus to China where things get complicated as they find not only the virus writers that are extorting their victims but also jihadists looking for a way into the United States. Zula falls into the hands of the terrorists while Olivia, a young MI6 agent observing the terrorists, follows. Zula's uncle is the famous Richard Forthrast, ex-smuggler, but now billionaire owner of T'Rain who the jihadists hope to extract ransom money from. The story quickly boils down to stopping the terrorists and saving Zula - Olivio, Richard, his family, and the virus writers themselves will all be involved.

Certainly a bit of a departure for Stephenson who I am more familiar with writing Science Fiction (and cyber-punk) novels but it is not in terms of size at more than 1,000 pages “reamde” is another door-stopper. Despite the size, “reamde” is very readable if not sometimes a bit tedious and confusing (particularly when you are trying to get up to speed on everyone's names).

The novel starts off fairly slow but very quickly picks up pace, slacks in the middle a bit then the last 300 pages is pretty much all action. Just when you think you understand what is happening something new or a plot twist is thrown at you to waken you up. The characters are believable and generally quite likable, the ones that are supposed to be likable anyway (I can't say I was particularly drawn to the fatalistic and somewhat depressing Richard which is surprising as he is the main character throughout) though there is a decided slant against the terrorists and we are never really told what they believe in and what they hope to accomplish in attacking the US. There are also notes I detected of the US pro-gun lobby though it is not entirely clear whether it is the characters or whether it is Stephenson speaking. One thing to note is that a lot of time is spent in T'Rain which can cause a bit of confusion for those that may not be familiar with such computer gaming.

An interesting, if a bit long, read.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2013-01-18

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Atlantic Books

Publication Date: 2011

Other reviewed books by Neal Stephenson:

Other reviewed books by Neal Stephenson, and George J. Frederick: