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This review is from: Reamde (Paperback)
Where Neal's previous novel was set in an alternate universe, Reamde is set in an "alternate present." In this he is now joining other sci-fi luminaries in bringing science fiction into the near future (or even present future). Everything that takes place in the novel is possible in our current geopolitical and digital climate. A global conflagration of Russian, Chinese, American, Canadian, and Middle East interests and a violent show-down between groups with vastly different political and theological commitments.
Reamde is a gripping read. It is long, like all of Stephenson's novels, but that is not a strike against it. The pacing is perfect, and given how much globe-trotting takes place, necessary to let the reader transition between countries and continents.
Although not all the characters are rounded, you quickly fall in love with Zula, Xuxia, Csongor, and even the characters you do not love you love to hate.
One aspect of the novel falls flat. Although Stephenson attempts to get into the mind of terrorist and secret agents, this seems unfamiliar territory to him. Other novels, such as John Le Carre's A Most Wanted Man, cover this ground with a surer foot.
However, Stephenson never writes a bad novel. This one is compelling. It has inspired me to go back and read Snowcrash, and almost makes me want to go on a hike across the border from the United States to Canada in order to see if I encounter any libertarian off-the-grid extremists.