Print Story Finished REAMDE
By ucblockhead (Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 10:45:14 PM EST) (all tags)
I was a bit disappointed.

itisn't a bad book by any means.  It is, however, a throwback to his earlier stuff, and by "earlier stuff", I mean his pre-"Snow Crash" books.  It's essentially a thriller in the "Zodiac/Cobweb" mode.  (Though better written than those two.)  There's nothing at all science fictional about it, which is in itself fine.  But there's also none of the thematic heft that his more recent books had.  No meditations on the modern lifestyle ala "Anathem" or explorations of cryptography ala "Cryptonomicon".  In the end, "Reamde" is just about the good guys defeating the bad guys.  Entertaining, certainly, but I'd hoped for more.

The book jacket description says that it is about the CEO of a "World of Warcraft" clone, the Russian mafia and Chinese hackers.  It certainly starts out that way, but there's a massive twist a few hundred pages in.   This is good, but makes it hard to say what the book is truly about.  The book seems driven by coincidence and chance meeting.  I kept searching for a theme there, but couldn't find one.

I had some significant issues with the plot.  For instance, we're supposed to believe that the terrorists blew up over a hundred people at the border as a "diversion" to Abdullah Jones making it into the country.  Yet we'd already been told that he had no real nefarious plans other than to get into the country.  What plans he had were in China were completely fucked.  We never get any inkling of a new attack planned, so what's the point of a "diversion" of a massive explosion just to get one terrorist into the country?

Every time the book seems like it might go deep, it doesn't.  the book refers to Jake as part of "the American Taliban", yet despite getting Arab terrorists into view of American militia types, there's no real meditation at all about what makes either tick.  They are just a given.  Jones himself is almost completely uncharacterized, leaving us no inkling of what his motivation is other than that "he's a Jihadist".  Surely there was something more interesting in a westerner turned to Islam.  Surely something interesting could have made with the contrast of him with the Somalian-turned-westerner Zula.

As to the rest: everything else is what you'd expect from Stephenson.  The geek satirist language.  Amusing set pieces.  The exaggerated style.  It just isn't used here in the service of anything more than good guys vs. bad guys.

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Finished REAMDE | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I was wondering when another would come along. by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 06:03:00 AM EST
After Anathem (written via fountain pen?), was he writing the next via clay tablets?


Oh well. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:42:55 AM EST
I was hoping for something more exciting. I still haven't started the Baroque Cycle, which looks like a time-suck with a, well, baroque plot, maybe this winter.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I really enjoyed it. by gzt (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 09:27:08 AM EST
I just finished Baroque, but I can see that it is definitely the sort of book that on will really love or really hate. I would say that, if you read the first couple hundred pages and like it, you'll like all the rest. The question is whether you'll be willing to like it for 2600 pages. One good thing about it, though, is that continuing for 2600 pages gives Stephenson enough room to make a good ending. There was one point where you just know that the Stephenson of old would have cinched it off, but he keeps on going for a few more hundred pages until the story is finished good and proper.

[ Parent ]
i quit a couple hundred pages in by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 04:04:24 PM EST
I just. couldn't. do. it.

and the length didn't bother me one bit, the story just seemed to drag in ways that didn't keep me entertained.

[ Parent ]
story? by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:51:44 AM EST
it seemed to be a series of entertaining digressions which undermined the plot and which got tedious after the dozenth.

i never finished it.

anathem, on the other hand, was fscking awesome.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Thanks by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 10:03:11 AM EST
I was browsing in B&N Friday, and luckily didn't see this. Now I know it can wait until I get it from the library.

I'm about half way through by technician (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 10:05:40 AM EST
and I keep hoping that in the end it'll actually be a simulation. That the characters will actually just be avatars for some WoW-style MMORPG.

The characters are mostly flat. Stephenson has a thing for writing certain female characters, and in Zula he's channeling the more human version of his other female characters.

I dunno. I'll finish reading it. Also, I liked Zodiac a bit more...the pacing was better, and the one main character was pretty well fleshed out by the mid-point of the book.

pretty good assessment by R343L (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 11:40:55 AM EST
I finished it a while ago and while I liked it, I couldn't put my finger on why I wasn't enthusiastically recommending it to friends. Basically, it's a action/thriller style book. If I'd picked it up and it were by an author I hadn't read before, I would have liked it, but would have been unlikely to seek out every last thing he'd written. Not because it's not good -- it is pretty good -- but just because it's not really my kind of book. Too many flat characters, too much action, not enough "big ideas" (actually they don't have to be "big" just more interesting than the ones in this book).

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
Finished REAMDE | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback