Feb. 1st, 2017

Book Review

Feb. 1st, 2017 09:28 pm
kenjari: (Eowyn)
Reamde
by Neal Stephenson

This door-stopper of a techno-thriller is responsible for my being late to a post-lunch meeting at work and for plenty of lost sleep, as is it pretty hard to put down for almost all of its 1000+ pages. The plot is quite intricate, involving Russian mobsters, Islamic jihadists, a wildly successful MMMPORG and its creators, Chinese goldfarmers, computer viruses, multiple kidnappings, many guns, a couple of spies, and a lot of action spanning half the globe. Stephenson has a knack for writing huge books that don't drag, and for packing them full of characters, action, and intrigue without making the narrative confusing or overstuffed. And while he has a penchant for info-dumps, he at least knows how to make them very entertaining.
In contrast to most action movies, Reamde is not too bad on gender balance: we have three main female characters to four or five main male characters, and the women have agency and drive plenty of the plot. While the ending does have a comic opera level of of pairing people up, I never got the impression that any of the three women were there just to be a love interest. In fact, it is largely the male characters who are motivated by romantic interest or sexual attraction.
I really like Stephenson's pacing. He strikes the right balance between info-dumps and action sequences. Plus, the info-dumps work well as a way to make the book more immersive and to make the reader care about the characters and their lives. He also really knows how and when to ratchet up the tension.

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