Drew Lackovic's Reviews > Reamde

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Apr 25, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

Man what a ride. I like Stephenson a lot. He's the kinda author where I'm actively working on reading his whole collection, and I just really started reading him last year. I really admire Stephenson's ability to sustain suspense. Granted, he's definitely backed himself into a sort of stylistic corner with Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, and REAMDE all adopting a sort of rotating multi-narrator close 3rd POV. It works because he's willing to go the distance and give some random guy, like Chet, in this book, just enough POV headspace for the reader to care about the character before big stuff happens. The main effect of all this is a really twisty-turny kind of plotline that, in this case, comes off as a non-stop adrenaline rush action film, but in a way too big to be an action film kinda way.

And this is simultaneously the best and worst part of REAMDE for me. Throughout the first two-thirds of the book, I had a hard time putting it down. I took it with me on a trans atlantic flight and read 300 pages in a single sitting--which is a lot for my general inability to sit and read for more than an hour at a time.

I have this thing where I really like books that can't, for some reason or another, be made into movies. REAMDE is just too large, to ever work as anything short of four or five movies, and even then, I think the point would get lost in translation; the beauty here is that you have to read it to get its guts, and I love that.

But, Stephenson's plots tend to have this "gotta wrap everything up" need to them, and the end of the novel went kinda transparent for me--I saw how things were converging together, and I started solving the plot climaxes before they dropped; and this is partly because I know Stephenson to be a the type of writer that doesn't like to leave holes--so sort of defeated by his own design I guess. I think perhaps this book, more so than Diamond Age or Cryptonomicon goes a little too far -- so much action throughout, that it seems like he had to back himself into a corner of having to top everything previous with the last big action section, but this kind of broke the dream for me. It sort of pushed past what I saw as the core of the book.

That said though, I've never read a 1000+ page book before this where I didn't want to put it down at any point. For as much as I enjoyed Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age, I enjoyed them in smaller chunks; not REAMDE--it's definitely a behemoth, but it's a behemoth running full tilt.

And for the record, Sokolov deserves a whole series in his name; by far my favorite character of the book.
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