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Book Review: Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

July 3, 2012

Release Date: June 5, 2012

First Line: I’m standing on the steep slate roof of Allderdice High School, gripping a rain-spattered wrought iron decoration in one hand and holding up my other hand, palm out.

The Short Version: 

BOTBS (Back of the Book Summary): Twenty-nine-year-old Own Gray always believed the miraculous device in his brian had been implanted for purely medical reasons, as a way of controlling the debilitating seizures he suffered in his youth. But when the Supreme Court rules that “amplified” humans like Owen are not protected by the same basic laws as pure humans, his world instantly fractures. As society begins to unravel and a new class war is ignited by fear, Owen’s father, a doctor who originally implanted the “amp,” confides something that will send him on a harrowing journey – his “amp” has the hidden potential to do so much more than he imagined…and he is now in grave danger.

My Thoughts: When I read Daniel H. Wilson’s first book Robopocalypse earlier this year, I was struck by how well he explained technology and its affects on society. Normally I am less than thrilled by extremely technical science fiction, but he was able to seamlessly integrate descriptions into his story, and make them dramatic and necessary.

So I was very excited to see that he had a new book coming out in June. While Amped is not a sequel to Robopocalypse, it returns to the theme of our dependence on technology, and what that dependence will mean for us as a species. While Robopocalypse explored how technology might lead to our demise, Amped focuses on how technology might make us more (or less) than human, and the tension that can arise from a species-wide change.

The book is fast-paced, reminding me of a Michael Crichton or Dan Brown novel. I wanted to keep reading every time I hit the end of a chapter. The plot turns weren’t shocking, but the writing was pitch-perfect and the descriptions, particularly of the fight scenes, were darkly beautiful.

The main question of the book comes down to exactly what makes us human. Is it our human forms? Our human brains? Our relationships? Our choices? Can we be human if we are augmented by machines, and does that question even matter in the grand scheme of our existence? That Daniel H. Wilson manages to tackle such large topics within such a tight and fast paced novel is testament to his skill as a writer.

Who Would Like It: Fans of Robopocalypse, Ender’s Game, Michael Crichton, or Dan Brown.

(Be aware, this review refers to an unpublished ARC and there may have been changes before publishing.)

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