Saturday, 21 February 2015

Book Review - Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

As a fan of Wilson's work (Roboapocalypse and Robogenesis) I was looking forward to reading this book, and boy was I not disappointed. Portraying a world I feel we aren't too far away from, Wilson weaves a fascinating tale of implanted super humans and the consequences this brings. 

Amped (RRP $19.99 from Simon and Schuster Australia) opens a few years after people have started receiving implants for both medical reasons and pure enhancement. Owen Gray has received an implant in his brain from his father to control his debilitating seizures. Or at least this is what he is initially told. Following a Supreme Court ruling that rips basic human rights from the 'amps', Owen is thrust to the forefront of a simmering and brutal class war between amplified humans and humans. To make matters worse, Owen also discovers his amp is different, and he is sent on a harrowing journey to a community in Oklahoma where he will discover his own startling and latent gifts that will change him forever. 

I loved the basic premise of this book, and whilst it is not original (X-Men anyone?) it is arguably dealt with in an original and fascinating way. Owen Gray is an interesting protagonist, and I really enjoyed how Wilson examined his humanity and how it changed throughout the course of the book. I also loved reading the scenes that included Lyle Crosby, the leader of the growing amp movement. Ex-military, he is a strange and intoxicating meld of Magneto and Kurtz that I found both terrifying and incredibly addictive to read. Their interaction was the highlight of the book for me, and how Wilson dealt with their relationship had me immersed late into the night. Like in all previous books by Wilson the technological ideas are well thought out and implemented, and they are stunningly familiar as we as a society plough rapidly towards enhancement of ourselves in order to live longer. I also adored how Wilson examined the notion of a class war in the future, and I found the alienation experienced by the amps despite their miraculous abilities enthralling to read. 

Where this book is let down (and thus stopping me from giving it a 5 out of 5) is in its final third. Ideas and plot lines that have been set up never fully reach the heights I thought they would, and I was left feeling a little disappointed by the conclusion. All in all though Amped is a solid and fascinating dystopian fiction that will be loved by fans of his previous work. 

4 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was provided.

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