Kate's Reviews > Reamde

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Dec 21, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, fiction
Read from November 30 to December 21, 2014

Reamde is a pretty great book--well-researched (mostly), and certainly a thrilling page turner. This is the first book I've read by Stephenson as well, and I like his style. But at the end of the day there's still some serious flaws that meant I donated my copy to the library as soon as I was finished.

First, this is a book built on coincidences. And while they can be kind of ridiculous, they're the enjoyable and fun kind of ridiculous. But by the end of the book those coincidences are like a giant house of cards, and for me there was just one so ridiculous that the entire thing collapsed. (Spoiler alert with no context: it was the mountain lion.) It just got to be too much. I was laughing at the book by that point, not with it.

Second, for being the central character for much of the book, Zula Forthrast suffers from what I tend to call "Cardboard Prop Syndrome." That is, she's not so much a character as a MacGuffin-like prop to motivate other (almost always male) characters, or for male characters to carry around from plot point to plot point. She seems like she could be a really compelling, interesting character, but the narrative almost never delves into her thoughts / inner monologue like it does its male characters. So she comes off as a prop instead. And after 1000+ pages of that, I was well sick of it.

And third, while it ended up being really tertiary to the plot, for such a "geek lit" book the fictional MMO T'Rain is pretty poorly researched in the details. Some of the events that happen "in game"--and background details like some rocks sliding down a mountain slope (has there ever been an MMO with such a detailed physics engine?)--would be difficult for a AAA single-player game to pull off. A present-day MMO? Forget it. Not without a server infrastructure and budget the size of Seattle.

Like I said, the T'Rain stuff is tertiary to the plot at best. But it's so poorly researched and unrealistic that I cringed through those parts of the book. As hardcore RPG players would say..."but MY IMMERSION!"

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Reading Progress

11/30/2014 marked as: currently-reading
12/21/2014 marked as: read

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