Review – Reamde by Neal Stephenson

It’s been a few weeks since I read REAMDE and I’ve needed some time to get my thoughts together.  This should have been exactly my type of book.  Here is the synopsis from Amazon – “The black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, former draft dodger and successful marijuana smuggler Richard Forthrast amassed a small fortune over the years—and then increased it a thousandfold when he created T’Rain. A massive, multibillion-dollar, multiplayer online role-playing game, T’Rain now has millions of obsessed fans from the U.S. to China. But a small group of ingenious Asian hackers has just unleashed Reamde—a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom—which has unwittingly triggered a war that’s creating chaos not only in the virtual universe but in the real one as well. Its repercussions will be felt all around the globe—setting in motion a devastating series of events involving Russian mobsters, computer geeks, secret agents, and Islamic terrorists—with Forthrast standing at ground zero and his loved ones caught in the crossfire.”

Doesn’t this sound great?  Oh yeah!  So, why didn’t I love it?

“It’s not you, it’s me” – I’ve had to accept that sometimes I just do not jell with an author or a book.  Because I can see the positives in Mr. Stephenson’s writing and the story, I think this may just be a case of wrong time, wrong place, wrong reader.

Now, having said that, there were certain things that rubbed me the wrong way –

– I love a book that’s over 1000 pages – IF it can hold my attention.  I am currently reading a 1200-pager and the next 3-4 on the nightstand are all over 1000.  And, I’m looking forward to each one.  BUT – I don’t like a 1000-pager that didn’t need to be over 450-500.  I think this could have been a great book if he really cut back on some of the extraneous-ness.  I got a little sick of waiting around page 500 and started skimming.  (See, I did care what happened but didn’t want to go through the pain of reading it all the way through.)

– Speaking of extraneous-ness: I get it, you are so much smarter than everyone else.  Let’s throw in every big word we know.  There was one character (Don Donald) that was supposed to be a pretentious blow-hard, so I’ve excluded things said by him.  But, was it really necessary to include:

– Epiphenomenon

– Verisimilitude

– Concomitant

– Bogosity

– Obstreperous

– Desuetude

– Cataliptic (I’ll admit, I still don’t know this one)

– And, my personal favorite – patrilineal.  Couldn’t you just say “Father’s side of the family” or something else that didn’t cause my eyes to roll back in my head?

– I found several proofreading errors including punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc.  I have forgiven these in self-published novels or those where they didn’t stand out.  I couldn’t forgive them for this novel though.  It was published by Harper Collins and should have been proofread properly.

– Lastly, the MC was pretty much obsessed with his adopted niece.  He pointed out in several scenes that he is “not being creepy”.  Okay….if you have to point it out more than one time, then you are probably VERY creepy!  And, I didn’t get the sense that the author intended for him to be creepy.  So, it really creeped me out.  Make sense?

I’m sure some people have or will love this book.  It just wasn’t for me.  2 / 5 stars for the effort.

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