Andrew Smith's Reviews > Reamde

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read April 10, 2018 to May 3, 2018.

At over 1000 pages, this book has the scale of epic tomes such as The Stand and 1Q84, though the the story itself seems to bear a much closer relationship to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It has vast geographic spread, featuring action in settings as widely spaced as Idaho USA, the Philippines, China and (very briefly) the UK. But outside of these real life locations there is a good deal going on within the confines of a multiplayer online role-playing game that has much in common with World of Warcraft. T’Rain features fantasy figures who spend much of the time travelling through its huge landscape whilst fighting monsters, collecting items and completing various tasks with a view to improving and enriching their own character(s). It’s a huge thing and everyone seems to be playing it.

At the start, we view a reunion of the Forthrast family, where we get to meet a number of people who are to play a significant role in this story. Foremost here is Richard Forthrast who has made his fortune by benefit of a dodgy past involving drug smuggling and, latterly, through inventing and marketing T’Rain. His neice Zula is also introduced and it’s through these two that much of the story is tracked.

The real action commences when a ransomware virus called REAMDE (a typo of README) begins to affect players by encrypting their computer files. It seems that the aim is to extort in-game gold (which can be exchanged for real money) in exchange for a key to decrypt their files. One gamer who has his files so impacted happens to be in the process of selling stolen credit card details to the Russian mob and they’re none to pleased to have been given an unreadable file in exchange for the money they handed over. Things then start to get crazy – very quickly.

I won’t go into further detail regarding the plot but I will say that there are a lot of guns (both within the game and outside of it) a large cast of interesting characters and plenty of action. The downside is that the whole thing (were you to think too deeply about the logistics involved) is dependent on a number of huge coincidences and some technology that I’m not sure exists in the real world. That said, I’m sure that many readers wont care a hoot about this and will just lap up the adventure.

It is great fun and even as a non-gamer I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the ongoing action within T’Rain versus the wild antics kicking off in the outside world. My only real grumbles are that the whole thing just goes on way too long (particularly the final reckoning) and the fact that it’s all rather too neatly sewn up at the end. Oh, and the fate of (at least) one of the key characters seems to have been omitted – unless I missed it, which is possible as I was getting very tired of the protracted dénouement by this stage. It’s a book that readers will probably either love or hate and, on balance, I’m certainly closer to the former.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 5, 2015 – Shelved
October 5, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 10, 2018 – Started Reading
April 13, 2018 –
15.0% "Hard to categorise this one: it's got an element of Ready Player One about it, but it's got a different vibe. Regardless, I'm really enjoying it."
April 22, 2018 –
50.0% "The action is somewhat manic - almost slapstick, in fact. But it's also intriguing and clever. At times I'm in limbo between the tedium of information overload versus my absolute need to know what happens next."
April 27, 2018 –
80.0% "Sometimes the story slows (painfully so at times) but it's now full on and I'm really glad I stuck with it - can't wait to see how it plays out."
May 3, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Terrific review, Andrew! It's not one I would probably read, but your review made it sound very intriguing anyway!


Andrew Smith Jaline wrote: "Terrific review, Andrew! It's not one I would probably read, but your review made it sound very intriguing anyway!"

Thank you, Jaline 😊
A bit of a niche book, this. And a bit too long. Good fun though, if it's a style that fits and you've the patience to stick with it.

Hope you're good!


message 3: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Andrew wrote: "Thank you, Jaline 😊
A bit of a niche book, this. And a bit too long. Good fun though, if it's a style that fits and you've the patience to stick with it.


For me, if a book is good, there is no such thing as too long. In fact, I just finished one that some folks considered too long - yet I found myself slowing down my reading process to make it last longer. Hahaha

Hope you're good! "

So kind of you, Andrew. There have been a few losses in the family (not on my side, but my children's father's side) and a few other upheavals. However, things are gradually smoothing out again in the way that things do. 😊


Andrew Smith I think I'm with you with regard to long books, Jaline. Generally, that is. Some of my very favourite books have been huge, daunting novels that have taken over my life for weeks on end.

And I'm sorry to hear that times haven't been so kind of late. It does go like that sometimes, doesn't it. It feels as though the fates are against you - for a while at least, and then it generally evens out. I hope that's how it's working out for you now.


message 5: by Jaline (new)

Jaline You are so kind, Andrew, and indeed everything is stabilizing once again, although I just found out today that my elderly Dad had to go into the hospital today to have a gallstone operation. It's not a big-deal surgery any more, but my Dad is 92 so it's somewhat of a worry.


Andrew Smith Jaline wrote: "You are so kind, Andrew, and indeed everything is stabilizing once again, although I just found out today that my elderly Dad had to go into the hospital today to have a gallstone operation. It's n..."

It's hard to get your head around it sometimes, isn't it, Jaline. It seems like one thing after another. I hope it all works out OK for your dad!


message 7: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Andrew wrote: "It's hard to get your head around it sometimes, isn't it, Jaline. It seems like one thing after another. I hope it all works out OK for your dad!"

Thank you for your kindness, as always, Andrew. Dad is already doing a bit better but still in hospital for now as they want to make sure he is in good shape before he goes home. And yes - I suppose the "one thing after another" might be why it is referred to as "the cycle of life".


Andrew Smith Great to hear he’s close to coming home 👍
And yes, I guess you’re right, Jaline.


message 9: by Jaidee (new)

Jaidee Fun review Andrew.

Over 1000 pages...wowow...I am going to start Jerusalem in the next few weeks or so and that one is...let me check....1280 pages....can I do it...we shall see :)


Andrew Smith Jaidee wrote: "Fun review Andrew.

Over 1000 pages...wowow...I am going to start Jerusalem in the next few weeks or so and that one is...let me check....1280 pages....can I do it...we shall see :)"


Thank you, Jaidee 😊

I've heard a bit about Jerusalem - set in Northampton, I believe. Good luck with that one, at over 1200 pages it's an absolute monster!


message 11: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Excellent review, Andrew!


message 12: by Andrew (last edited Jul 05, 2018 06:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andrew Smith Jaline wrote: "Excellent review, Andrew!"

Thank you, Jaline :)


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