Reamde - Neal Stephenson I don’t get it. People love this book. Granted, this is the first book of Neal Stephenson’s that I’ve ever read so I don’t have the advantage of knowing what else he’s capable of writing, but Reamde isn’t something I’d expect from a writer with his reputation.

Even though there were way too many moving parts combining to be remotely believable (computer game designers, Chinese hackers, Russian mafiosos, spies, rural gun nuts and jihadists to name a few) I was suspending disbelief and following along. It moved at a pretty good clip and was entertaining at least. Then, maybe three or four hundred pages into it, it became apparent that most of what I was reading was completely irrelevant to the main story. I’ve seen other reviews calling this writing “baroque”, but that seems very generous. For what other writers would be ruthlessly criticized, Stephenson seems to get a free pass and even praised. I’m not sure why.

That said, Reamde still has some strong points. Despite my problems with the story as a whole, each sub-story is engaging and well-written. And the research into every aspect of the story- locations, weapons, computers- is impressive. When he writes about walking Chinese streets, it feels like he’s been there. When he writes about gun battles, it feels like he’s been in them. I can see how Stephenson may have produced some great novels, but I hope this isn’t one of them.