I finished Reamde in a long stretch that covered the last two disks. Overall reaction is: I loved the book. This kind of book is why I enjoy Stephenson. I saw a reviewer on GoodReads characterize it as “Info Dump, Action, Info Dump, Action.” That is true, and the depth of description and sense of place that Stephenson gives to the stories is so very enjoyable. I can gauge my enjoyment of a book by if I have the sense I’ll miss the characters after I’m finished reading, and I can say that I will miss hearing about what is next for Zula, Sokolov, Olivia, Richard, Marlin and Yuxia. In reality these characters would go on with their daily life and probably not have similar adventures and intrigue as they did in the six weeks covered in the book which is fine.
I’d suggest anyone that enjoys technically savvy, exotic location, detailed, and rich stories give this one a try.
Also, this was my first novel experienced via audiobook. I feel like I’ve been thrown back into the hey day of radio! One of the great things about listening to the story is that you can hear the pronunciations and inflections of the reader to give you clues about the story. Another is that you have a chance to get through mundane busy work while entertained and letting your mind focus on the story being read. I would put my book on and do the dishes, or water the lawn. I found it very restful to listen to the book and something that I would look forward to just as much as sitting and reading a physical book.
[There be spoilers ahead]
Here are some of my thoughts on the story:
I enjoyed the characters of Olivia and Shamus and Olivia’s back story. The operations in the Philippines where interesting and the location of Shamus provided a way to reunite Csongor, Yuxia Marlin and the main story line quickly. All the MI6, CIA, encoded messages, faked credentials, chopper operations stuff was fun to listen to.
I used to be a World of Warcraft player, so the way the game of T’Rain is used as a character in the book was intriguing. The “war” between Earth Tone coalition and the colorful folks seemed like it was a story line that wasn’t fully cultivated nor completed. Once Richard realized Zula was missing and started on the task of searching for her the Don Donald v. Skeletor sub plot wasn’t touched again.
The Long Road Trip Through Canada
I know that getting Jones and his band of merry terrorists into North America via Canada and then into the US had to be plausible, but this part of the book was by far my least favorite. RV culture, and the mind games between the kidnappers and Zula wasn’t interesting and crossed over into tedium as if the reader was the one locked up in Jones’ “black room”. Definite low point.
The story from the point of Richard seeing the Leatherman fall in front of him by the cliff all the way to Jones seeing the mountain lion was highly enjoyable and was as quick as watching all of these dominos fall as if the previous chapters were the painstaking process of setting them up.
I saw one reviewer criticize how the story was “tied up neatly” at the end, but I think that was a good way to end it. You want to know what happened to everyone, whether they lived or died, and how the romantic arcs played out.