I put off starting this one for quite a while. First because I got sucked into the whole Hunger Games thing, then because, well, it’s 1056 pages, for Pete’s sake, and then because I just didn’t have (I thought) the energy or attention span to get over the hump. I mean, this IS a Neal Stephenson book. There’s ALWAYS a hump.
I had read Anathem about two years ago and haven’t read anything else since that I have loved as much. But, boy, there IS a hump to get over, with Stephenson. He generally sets you down in the middle of a universe where you need to learn the rules, the context, even the language, sometimes, as you go. And once you break through to the other side, it’s a glorious and heady ride. But oh, the hump.
REAMDE did, in fact, have a bit of a hump. I dutifully made my way through the first 80 pages or so, thinking I kind of got it– this was going to be a book about a virtual reality, an online gamers game, and I kinda thought I even saw where it was going.
And then it didn’t.
Set in Xiamen, China, Manila, Seattle, North Dakota, and Idaho, and with the Russian mafia, a young female M16 agent, Chinese hackers, a Hungarian mathematician, and a former-drug-smuggler-turned gaming tycoon involved, REAMDE covers a lot of ground. By the time I neared the finish, I was gobbling chunks of it any chance I got, turning pages as fast I could go and generally riding it with my hands up in the air shouting “wheeeeeeee”…
I heard myself say to Josh “It’s more of a spy thing, a thriller, even. Really complicated, but kind of not, too.”
It IS Stephenson after all.