Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Reamde is the first book by Neal Stephenson that I've read. I had considered reading others of his books before but until now, I hadn't. I think it was due to a sense of intimidation. First of all, his books are long, (Reamde is 1,000+ pages) which means they're a commitment. Also, From the little I knew about his books, I was pretty sure most of it would go right over my head. I had heard that Stephenson is a very cerebral author and his books usually involve a lot of mathematics or cryptography, or that they require an MIT graduate's understanding of computers to understand. I thought, if I couldn't follow either of the TRON movies, then there'd be no way to follow one of his books. Finally, I once posted a question on a book blog asking for a recommendation on which Stephenson book was the best and received a response from a fan who's response made me question the mental stability of his readers.

That being said, I kept coming across reviews of Reamde and every one of them said that the book was great, so I decided to take the plunge. The title of the book is derived from the common subject line "Read Me" that usually accompanies an email that's going to infect your computer with a virus. Reamde, as the virus becomes known as in the book, is a computer virus that infects T'Rain, a multiplayer online role-playing game. It has millions of players all over the world and Reamde encrypts its users' computer files and holds them hostage until the user pays a ransom to unencrypt them. With as many players as there are in T'Rain, very quickly after the virus is released it impacts the files of some dangerous people.

The Russian mob, along with the world's most dangerous terrorist become involved in an action-packed chase that jumps from the Pacific Northwest to China, the Philippeans, British Colombia, and other places along the 49th parallel. The characters are well developed (as they should be, given the size of the book) and the plot is captivating. The book moves at a very fast pace which gives it the feel of a book half its size and not once did I feel like any of it was going over my head. Either my preconceived impression I had of Stephenson was incorrect, or I'm brighter than I gave myself credit for being. Either way, I really enjoyed it a lot and am sure it won't be the last book by Stephenson I read.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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