Savannah's Reviews > Reamde

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
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Oct 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: families, fiction, friendship, librarybook, pacific-northwest, outdoors, scifi, thriller, religion, politics
Read from October 31 to November 16, 2011

** spoiler alert ** This is my kind of book. Long, but not because no one edited it. Stephenson uses every word mindfully, to leisurely but with full focus tell a detailed, winding, never-out-of-control story. He casts his players out, disperses them, develops them, and finally draws them back together as you hang on every word to see where the latest turn of plot will take them, no matter how clear it is that somewhere, somehow, they will in fact all come back together. And it is in that journey that this book lies, not in the inevitable and fairly briskly-handled final scenes.

Few of the reviews of this book that I read really describe it well--they reach for the set of stock phrases in the "thriller" folder, make much of the MMORG that is the business of many of the characters, and fail to get that this is just plain, well-done writing. His descriptions, especially of the BC & Idaho terrain, are lovely and precise, evocative without showing off how many heady adjectives he can string together.

Is this a nerd's book? Undoubtedly so, albeit not so much for the tech in it as for the details of the wilderness trip and appreciation of the fine way the various weapons' characteristics play into the final scenes. The tech is essentially everyday stuff, and while it's delightful to see characters texting and pulling the batteries from their tracking phones and plying Google Earth for maps, no detailed understanding of how to use this stuff this is really required to follow the plot. No one needs to play an MMORG to follow the in-game sequences (and they are relatively few, reviews notwithstanding). Not a lot of authors have stepped up to the casual part these tech tools play in modern life, but Stephenson does it with absolutely no more demands upon the reader than when a character drives an unfamiliar car or a jihadist reaches for another weapon.

Ultimately, this is a thriller about international economics and terrorists, and although readers may need to be coaxed past all of the focus reviews and the cover flap place on the gaming, it will appeal to anyone who'd pick up a well-written book on those topics.
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