Reamde<br/>Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson
Paperback | Kindle Edition

A story about the crossover of the digital realms and the physical, rolled into a plot centered on international terrorism.

From the book

From the extraordinary Neal Stephenson comes an epic adventure that spans entire worlds, both real and virtual.

The black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, former draft dodger and successful marijuana smuggler Richard Forthrast amassed a small fortune over the years—and then increased it a thousandfold when he created T’Rain. A massive, multibillion-dollar, multiplayer online role-playing game, T’Rain now has millions of obsessed fans from the U.S. to China. But a small group of ingenious Asian hackers has just unleashed Reamde—a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom—which has unwittingly triggered a war that’s creating chaos not only in the virtual universe but in the real one as well.Its repercussions will be felt all around the globe—setting in motion a devastating series of events involving Russian mobsters, computer geeks, secret agents, and Islamic terrorists—with Forthrast standing at ground zero and his loved ones caught in the crossfire.


The book opens by introducing a few characters at the families annual get together – the aforementioned ‘black sheep’, Richard Forthrast, the second of the children of John Forthrast; and Zula, an adopted Eritrean daughter.

Richard, runs a multi-million dollar MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game – entitle T’Rain) and apparently has a rather dubious past of running drugs across the north american border.

Zula seems to be an altogether kind of girl, with Peter, a true geek boyfriend; who has his toes in some decidedly dodgy dealings.

That is to say, just when one thing happens, something bigger/worse/more shocking happens just after, and on it continues.
The title comes from an in-game virus with a misspelled name (the ransom demand comes in some kind of text file that should be titled: Read Me, but the misspelling makes it Reamde), designed to elicit money from the game by infecting a players machine, encrypting the files on that machine and forcing a ransom of in-game currency (gold) to unlock it. The player gathers all the requested gold and drops it at a specified location within the game. The virus writers, then gather the gold and transfer it into real money.

The plot escalates when Peter has his fingers burned after the virus encrypts the list of credit card numbers he has sold to russian mobsters; who decide that the best way to decrypt the files is to travel to China to force the virus writers to unlock the file.

This further escalates, when the mobsters are tricked into a gunfight with an Islamic terrorist cell. Things go rapidly downhill from there as Richard realises that Zula is missing, and sets out to find her…


Where to start? This isn’t going to be pretty…

Well on a positive note – the characters are quite well written and believable, the plot elements are written in an exciting style, the story moves along at a good pace – but something is missing. 😐

I think for me it was simply that there was one thing happening after another. That is to say, just when one thing happens, something bigger/worse/more shocking happens just after, and on it continues. This really does not sit well with me – there are a few films that take this kind of approach but it turns me cold.

This for me gave me a considerable ‘yeah, right!’ attitude that spoiled the entire book.  🙁

And it is a read – it’s quite a long story.

I really wanted to enjoy this book as I usually enjoy reading Neal’s stories, and he seems to have a great way of weaving plot elements together and cutting between them at crucial moments, but in this case I found myself forcing myself to read just another chunk to get it over and done with.

I guess it might be worth a pop, if you like your thrillers, but for me it was a bit of a drag to complete 🙁

I think I’d rate it as a disappointing 5/10