I finished up Neal Stephenson's new book Reamde this week. I had been feeling the pressure to finish it as it is 1,044 pages long and I had two weeks to read it before I had to return it to the library. My normal reading session of 45 minutes on the exercise bike 3 times a week wasn't going to cut it. So last weekend I took a whole day pretty much to read, which felt really nice. I still hadn't finished it, so on Halloween, when Jen was gone to Bible study, I sat at the dining room table with the book and a bowl full of candy. I'd read along and every once in a while get up to pass out some miniature candy bars. We only had around 20 trick or treaters, so I got a lot of good reading time in and finished the book.
Overall, it was quite enjoyable. It just wasn't quite Neal Stephenson good. One of the things I really like about his books is he gets into nerdy ideas and really goes deep into them, looking at real world applications and explaining complex concepts in a good narrative. Reamde is much more a spy thriller. There are a handful of concepts explored, such as using real world geological patterns to create a World of Warcraft style game, using those types of games as money transfer systems, and great circle flight pattern considerations. However, mostly it's a cat and mouse game between people trying to rescue a very unfortunate girl and the people who have kidnapped her.
My biggest bones with the book are 1. there is a highly improbable coincidence in the middle of the book that the book hinges on, and 2. right after that coincidence one of the characters makes a decision that makes no sense to me. Still, the book is very good. I especially enjoyed the character of Sokolov, who lets us step into his mind and see its highly cautious, calculating workings as they take on an array of situations ranging from spycraft, firefights, and managing a mentally unstable Russian crime boss. I appreciate how deeply Stephenson goes into his mind and works on his perception of the world.
Anyway, if you're a Stephenson fan, you'll want to read this book, but it doesn't get up to the level of his better works such as Snow Crash, Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon. It does however, have a much better ending than Anathem, the book he wrote before Reamde. A satisfactory ending means a lot.