Thursday, September 11, 2014


Reamde is a 2011 novel by Neal Stephenson. I bought it because I thought it was a science fiction novel. After all, it was shelved in the science fiction section and the author does write science fiction. It's not SF, though. It's a techno-thriller. It's a riveting read. The book is 1042 pages long, but don't let that scare you off. It's a real page-turner, with steady pacing. The numerous characters and plot threads are somehow easy to keep track of. I highly recommend this one.

from the dust jacket:
Neal Stephenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Anathem, returns to the terrain of his groundbreaking novels Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon to deliver a high-intensity, high-stakes, action-packed adventure thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online war game.

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 twenty-first 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 page-turner from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.
The Guardian calls it "a joyride". The Washington Post says,
In less masterful hands, this pile-up of implausible coincidences, madcap romance, technological mayhem and nail-biting suspense might have been a train wreck, but Stephenson pulls it off. “Reamde” has one of the most satisfyingly over-the-top endings of anything I’ve read in years.
Salon bemoans that "“Reamde” is a thriller whose basic plot is almost embarrassingly simple" and seems to wish it was a harder read, but says, "I thoroughly enjoyed “Reamde.” I couldn’t put it down — which, for a thriller, has got to be the highest praise. Despite its 1,000-plus pages, “Reamde” moves right along."

Kirkus Reviews concludes it's "An intriguing yarn—most geeky, and full of satisfying mayhem." BoingBoing calls it "a powerful, magnificent book that is worth the sizable forests that will have to be demolished to commit it to paper, and the sizable lump that it will represent in your bag or briefcase while you finish it." Strange Horizons says, "Reamde is clever without being obnoxious, fun without being campy, funny without being stupid, scary without being alarmist, poignant without being sentimental, and exciting without being mind-numbing. What more could one want from a blockbuster?"


  1. This definitely sounds like it would be out of my normal choice of subject matter in reading material. You gave it such a rave review that I may be tempted. I do like big long books :-)


    1. I remember discovering Michener's books (I think his "Hawaii" was my first) and loving how looong! they were. I do love a long read :)

  2. Now I want to read it, too. But I wish they would make a film of it, before I get to it (so many pages!). Would Gary Sinise fit as Richard Forthrast? Say he would!

    1. Maybe, but I want Viggo Mortensen. Of course, I want Viggo Mortensen for everything. I think it would make a fun film, easy to adapt.