Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Reamde

This book is so thick that finishing it makes you feel like you've been through what the characters go through: a multi-country chase back and forth around the world, with lots of guns, boats, terrorists, and computer programs. Neal Stephenson is the Gen-X Tom Clancy. Don't get me wrong, Stephenson can write circles around Clancy, but both have the same loving attention to physical detail and intricate plots, always involving how things really work rather than how they seem to work in movies and TV. I liked Clancy's novels, so take that as a complement.

Reamde is an entertaining mashup of spycraft, woodscraft, and computercraft (or whatever you would call the heavy involvement of a World-of-Warcraft style game called T'Rain in the proceedings). But ultimately it's no more than beach reading: it's a diverting novel with one huge coincidence propelling the whole thing and lots of clever touches. Often clever, but I'm not sure if any rise to the level of ingenious. Thrilling as a rollercoaster, a few orders of magnitude longer, and in the end, about as deep and lasting an impact on the soul. Sometimes you need that, but actually, I prefer Stephen King in the end because King seems to be more "about something," and has characters with more heart. Lest I keep sounding like I didn't enjoy this novel, I affirm that I really did -- it's just that the experience (a month or so listening on audiobook) is already fading from mind, like a long, pleasent daydream.

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