REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson; and a rant about editors

Hello again dear readers!

If I can tell you one thing about REAMDE, it’s that this book is GOOD. I mean REALLY GOOD. For 1000+ pages, it’s definitely one that surprises you with how fast you can tear through it.

REAMDE’s beginning is relatively innocuous: it comes across as the beginning of a tale focusing on Richard Forthrast, the owner of the fictional Corporation 9952 which has created T’Rain. T’Rain is a bestselling game that allows its players to carry out money transfers from the virtual world to the real world, and this is where the actual premise of the story begins.

In the Forthrast family we are introduced to two of the younger members. Zula, and her boyfriend Peter. After some shenanigans involving stolen credit card numbers that were transferred from Peter to an operative called Wallace, we discover that Wallace – a player of T’Rain – has been accidentally duped by Peter and has a computer that is now infected with a virus. REAMDE. The creators ask for a ransom of $73, or the computer is trashed. Trouble is, the virus destroys data files until the ransom is paid. And one of the data files is the credit card numbers. Wallace tracks Peter down, but in the middle of lecturing him a mob of Russian mafia men burst into the apartment and decide to kill Wallace and then kidnap everyone else, starting a chain reaction that sees the troupe split up.

That’s when everything goes insane. Stephenson switches POV regularly, keeping readers updated on everyone’s progress as they venture across the world to find the hacker and kill him, at the behest of the angry Russians who are now missing their credit card numbers. But this is more difficult to do than it is to say, and the group is diverted once more and end up tangling with international Jihadists who aim to bomb America. No surprises there.

From there it’s a free-for-all which drags in global forces of security to help track down the terrorists and their captives. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say it’s a whirlwind adventure that doesn’t let go of you until the very last page.

Despite all its action/adventure-y goodness though, my mind couldn’t skip over the fact that there were a few errors. The first of these is a glaring gap in the work that disrupts the flow so much that it seems Stephenson actually forgot about a few of his characters for a few chapters, then suddenly remembered and threw us a few flashbacks to cover the gaps. Though this is a functional technique, I feel the novel would have been better executed if the flow was preserved and thus kept the reader hooked without reminding them that they were not, in fact, part of the plot. Error two. SPELLING AND TYPOS. For you readers who know me personally, you’ll know that I get really hung up on incorrect spelling and typos in things. REAMDE, unfortunately, was pretty much full of them. You would think that when doing editations for a novel you’d pay close attention to issues such as spelling and typos, but as of late this practice seems to have fallen foul of editors/proofreaders. It’s disheartening. Publishing a book? Check it properly. It isn’t difficult.

Does REAMDE have a message? On some levels I suppose it does. Don’t mess up money transfers is probably one. It also holds messages about hope, and perseverance in the face of life threatening danger. About ingenuity, and thinking on your toes. And I think, finally, REAMDE holds a message about family and how a good family can be there for you no matter what. But, as with all things, messages are in the eye of the beholder and I highly suggest that you, reader, peruse the pages of REAMDE and see what it might offer you. Not only is it a great thrill ride, but it has little nuggets of brain food stashed away in it and who doesn’t like brain food?

Well that’s it from me for the moment. As I’ll be away on a road trip for the next week or so, I plan on taking something hefty to help pass the time in the back seat. I haven’t yet decided on what it’s going to be, but stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, never stop reading!



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