I finished Reamde by Neal Stehpenson last night. I have to say that I am impressed. For a book that weighs in at over 1,000 pages it was a surprisingly quick read.
The basic premise is that a girl, Zula, is kidnapped by the Russian mafia (a non starter concept explained in the book) due to a series of unfortunate events connected to a virtual fantasy world, T-Rain (think WOW but cooler). The book follows her and a variety of other characters as they travel to China and end up being kidnapped a second time by terrorists. The terrorists, as they generally do, what to blow things up and kill people. At first this is a target in China and then as the opportunity presents itself in the good old US of A. The book features a lot of action, A LOT of guns and a lot of very well written characters.
My one complaint is about a plot point centered around several sets of files that are encrypted and held for ransom. The readers knows what one set is and that data is the main McGuffin for the story (at least for the first 1/4 of the book). Another set of data is alluded to as being important, but then largely forgotten in the sprawl of the story.
I have read Stephenson in the past, Cryptonomicon, and enjoyed him, but not nearly as much as I liked this book. I have read several reviews where other people did not like Reamde because it wasn’t much like his previous works. I actually think that was a benefit for me.
Overall I give this 6 out of 7 stars (hey this is my blog, I can come with what ever arbitrary rating system I want). If you are looking for a good very light sci fi thriller, with a lot of really well written characters, then pick this up. Just don’t strain your back when you do.