I had not read anything by Neal Stephenson before reading, “Reamde”. Hence this book managed to have that kind of effect on me. Neal Stephenson has done something marvellous in this book. He has managed to capture it all – explosiveness, madcap intensity, different threads, violence, family drama, Russian mob story, to a computer hacker plot, to terrorism – this book has it all and it is the sheer volume and size of it that makes it such a magnificent read.
Reamde’s size that runs into almost 1100 pages might put off readers, however don’t be intimidated by that. The story is based on the Forthrast Family – Richard Forthrast, an ex-small time drug runner, haunted by the Furious Muses (echoes of his previous girlfriends), now the owner of T’Rain, the world’s most successful online game; his younger brother Jacob “Jake” Forthrast, a born again Christian and Survivalist; his elder brother John Forthrast, Vietnam veteran with two high-tech artificial legs; his sister Patricia, killed by a bolt of lightning, and his adopted niece Zula Forthrast who walked to Sudan from Eritrea to escape a war.
Normal they might not be, but when Zula is kidnapped by the Russian Mafia after her boyfriend failed to deliver on a dodgy deal, they react as any family would and pull together to try and find a way to rescue her.
The Forthrast family isn’t your typical American family. Nowhere close to that and Neal Stephenson ensures that with every page. At the same time the unusual events that happen to them are contrasted with the more ordinary side of American life, including things like shopping at Wal-Mart, RVs, Starbucks, family reunions, Thanksgiving, gunshops etc.
The story is believable to some extent and the characters are beautifully developed. There is fast action, a superb plot, tongue-in-cheek humour and also so many stories that are within stories that I just don’t want to give away right now.
Stephenson is capable of writing great stuff and this I got to know only as I turned each page. Reamde is an excellent techno-thriller that is well worth your investment. It just means that you have to commit to it a lot given its size and twists in the tale.