Once a month, I spend $14.95 on my Audible subscription, which allows me one download for free. I used seven of these last year on the Dark Tower books, both because I wanted the whole series downloaded on audio, and also because I knew I’d be getting the most bang for my buck — the last book in the series was like 42 hours long. Now that I’ve finished those, I think I’ve found a new source for excellent and LONG audiobooks — Neal Stephenson. Reamde took me 38 hours total to complete over several weeks (I listened to it on my commute and while running), and it kept me riveted the whole time.
“Apparently these three had left half of the surviving population of China seriously pissed off at them, as well as making mortal enemies with a rogue, defrocked Russian organized crime figure. In their spare time they had stolen money from millions of T’Rain players, created huge problems for a large multinational corporation that owned the game, and, finally—warming to the task—mounted a frontal assault on al-Qaeda.”
So, yeah, that basically sums up the plot. Reamde centers around a massively multiplayer online game called T’Rain, created by Richard Forthrast, one of our many, many main players. A virus within the game — Reamde — locks up a player’s hard-drive until they go within the game to pay a ransom to a troll (a.k.a., a Chinese hacker). When the troll in charge of the virus locks the hard-drive of a very bad man, then things spiral out of control until just about the whole planet gets involved.
I expected something along the lines of Ready Player One, where the action would take place inside the video game. Some does, but there’s also a building explosion in China, a shootout on a boat, a mission in the Philippines, and a lot tromping through the wilderness of Canada with terrorists. Some sort of massive event takes place about every 30 minutes, with the in between sections basically info dumps by Stephenson about various characters, places and/or ideas. The whole book is wildly entertaining — dryly funny and incredibly exciting. I felt myself completely wrapped up in the characters by the end, and wanted to start it again from the beginning the moment it ended.