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Reamde: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 1055 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||
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More About the Author
Born in Fort Meade, Maryland (home of the NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum) Stephenson came from a family comprising engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.
Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic "The Baroque Cycle" (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Top Customer Reviews
The bad news: although it wouldn't be accurate to call this a "beach read", it's true that it isn't anywhere near as ambitious as Stephenson's earlier work, and there are no outrageous, indelible set-pieces like the Cap n' Crunch chapter of *Cryptonomicon* or the Newton-Leibniz smack down from *The Baroque Cycle*. And with the exception of the hilarious medievalist Don Squared, the characters aren't very memorable. In particular Zula, the heroine, is a bit bland and unconvincing.
The bottom line: if you're a Stephenson fan, you'll probably be a little disappointed, but if you're new to his writing, this is a perfect introduction to his style and outlook.
One could be forgiven for, like me, being a little disappointed about that. Neal Stephenson is an author capable of towering accomplishments. For an author as preoccupied as he is with grand, sweeping ideas of cosmological scale and intricacy, it's jarring to pick up his latest novel and find yourself reading a thriller that's not about ideas as much as it is about fun.
But oh, what a thriller. It's a thousand pages with the dynamic energy of a bullet train or a wild mustang, screaming along with an almost unbearable intensity and narrative zest. I found myself nipping a hundred pages at a time, like trying to gag down a glass of Bacardi 151, because it moves with explosive speed and a madcap intensity that never really lets up. It's not a traditional Stephenson novel, but only a writer of his caliber could have crafted a thriller this long, complex, and energetic. And you get the sense that he just had a ridiculous amount of fun writing it.
It's worth every moment of the read, and it's terrific fun watching the thriller genre get worked over by a writer of a caliber rarely seen in the straight-to-paperback set. But it's still not really as good as some of his earlier stuff...so it's a four, reluctantly. Doesn't mean it's still not one of the best books I'll read this year.
For about the first half of "Reamde" I felt like I was reading "Cryptonomicon" all over again. There is a familiar balance of international characters, intrigue, wit and technological digressions that make it a pleasure to read for any fan of Stephenson's previous novels.
The story starts going downhill when it turns into a terrorist hunt. The al-Qaeda characters are wooden, undeveloped, and evil for unexplained reasons. There was plenty of space to get inside their heads and Stephenson didn't even try. Strike one.
Strike two is the verbose gunfight that takes up the last quarter or so of the book. It's far too detailed and very difficult to follow. I found myself losing track of where characters were and what they were doing, and couldn't even maintain a consistent mental image of the scene without getting thrown off by random inconsistent environmental details that Stephenson kept throwing in.
Strike three is the Hollywood-esque setup of the ending. Stephenson used to always leave important issues unresolved at the end of his stories, which made for good food for thought. This story ties up cleanly in the end but Stephenson had to seriously finesse reality in order to get it there.
I got the overall impression that Stephenson wrote half of the book in his old mode, where he simply had fun coming up with characters and situations to get them into; then he spend the second half of the book trying to squeeze out a coherent ending that would get all the characters to where they needed to be, but losing a lot of the inherent quality of his style in the process.
Yet, the book lacks the special Stephenson touch. First, there is no overarching theme tying the novel together. Cryptonomicon was about the elusive nature of information and wealth, the Baroque Cycle was about the rise of science and capitalism in the West. Having these deeper questions in the background made the surface action in the novels more meaningful. This time it is just a bunch of Good Guys chasing a bunch of Bad Guys.
Second, the characters in Reamde lack both depth and idiosyncrasy. Despite the length of the novel, there is so much going on that we do not get to know the nuances of the characters' personalities. I don't think I am the only Stephenson fan missing the Cap'n Crunch episodes. Though they start off with nominally different backgrounds and interests, as the novel progresses the good guys/girls all converge into a uniform mould of toughness, self-reliance and an aptitude for violence. The bad guys, apart form the chief villain, seem to exist just to be killed. These cookie-cutter "jihadists" seem to have been dropped in from some B-grade action movie script, for Stephenson does not seem to have any wish to examine either the ideology of religious fundamentalists or their social backgrounds.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author injects gaming, geography and weapons quite accurately. Only problem I had was with the feline deus ex machina.Published 1 day ago by Gerald A Ney
This was a decent thriller with the fun overlay and commentary on massive online open world video games. I found it to be clever, well written and well paced. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
Quite the epic at the intersection of gaming and terrorism. Might have wrapped up a little more quickly, but quite the page turnerPublished 15 days ago by Jonathan Eden
Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite writers. This is a rollicking fast paced plot, but it can be a bit predictable and some of the plot twists strain credulity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A bit of a departure from Neal Stephenson's usual genre of very nerdy science-fI, Reamde is instead an exciting thriller. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Thomas E. Jackson
I enjoyed the audible narration and was so captured by the story that I had to purchase the book, too. I have read four of Stephenson's books. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Hard to believe there can be a 1000-page 'page turner'. A wild ride, as usual, but suspending disbelief was never more fun.Published 1 month ago by Scot Latimer
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Graphics and/or font changes||
It does not. I've read the whole book, and it's just straightforward text.
Aug 8, 2011 by Jason Kirk | See all 6 posts
|Where did the kindle edition go?||
I want to know the answer. Is the publisher afraid of losing their shorts on these paper book logs? I love neal because his books are huge, but I don't want to carry it around... Repost the Kindle version and you have my money today, otherwise, I will wait till Thanksgiving and buy at discount,... Read More
Sep 26, 2011 by M. Marcum | See all 8 posts
|Is the Kindle edition really $17?!||
Seems to me like Kindle pricing should reflect the hardback/paperback distinction. If a hard copy of the book is >$20, $17 doesn't seem too high. Part of what you pay for there is to get it early. But if the paperback is out for $8 and the Kindle price remains at $17, that's just... Read More
Jul 31, 2011 by Shannon A. Montgomery | See all 63 posts
The hardback costs more.... And it's gonna be a heavy one. I rather like not having to hold Stephenson's 1000 page behemoths when I'm reading. And I hate audiobooks so I don't care if the audiobook is $1 I'm still buying the Kindle version.
Sep 21, 2011 by Nathaniel Catron | See all 4 posts
|Has the eBook version been corrected yet?||
I agree--and there aren't even real page numbers! What the heck is going on?
Apr 2, 2013 by Juba Lee | See all 2 posts