Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hardspear Reviews the Audible version of Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Listen to Me, Read Me, Reamde.

On the topic of fiction novels where a large part of a book is set within a computer game, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Reamde by Neal Stephenson come to mind readily.  As opposed to the (near) futuristic dystopia in which Ready Player One is set, the backdrop to Reamde is a very realistic present. The lion’s share of Ready Player One takes place within the virtual reality of a computer quest-like game.  In Reamde, the percentage of the story that takes place within the World-of-Warcraft-like game called T’Rain is significantly smaller.  From here the differences between the two books just grows wider.  In the end, it is greatly unfair to even try to compare the two books.

It is difficult for me, J. Hardspear de la Azotea to pen down just how much I enjoyed the Audible audiobook version of Reamde.  It may just be the most entertaining and gratifying Techno-Thriller I have ever read/listened to.  As this is the first book by Mr. Stephenson I have had the pleasure to consume, I can only really comment on this book as it is, having no reference in terms of his other books.

Despite being classified as a Techno-Thriller, the narration is unbelievably funny at times.  There is one scene involving the Fantasy writers of the background to T’Rain referred to the ‘Apostropocalypse’ which had me crying with laughter.

The book is also about girl-power.  Zula Forthrast is one of the most quick-witted protagonists one can hope to encounter in a book.  The supporting characters of Olivia Halifax-Lin and Xian Yuxia positively delights.

The male characters, more specifically the “good guys” (sometimes the lines between good guys & bad guys gets a bit blurry, especially in the case of Solokov) are easy to relate to, with all their heroism and all of their fallibilities.

The book is long, VERY detailed and yet very fast-paced.  I listened to it on the plane, in the car, in bed before I go to sleep, first thing when I woke up, whilst I washed dishes etc, etc.

The matter of fact tone of the narration by Malcolm Hillgartner suits the story fantastically.  His accents runs from good (British) to bad (Scottish) but it is much better than I can do and still gets 100% for effort.

No comments: