Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: Amped

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been putting off writing this review out of fear it'd only highlight what I didn't like. I'll come out and admit that I was disappointed in this book. I had hyped it up too much in my head because [b:Robopocalypse|9634967|Robopocalypse|Daniel H. Wilson||14247828] was so good. Terrifying, but good. So here's the deal-

Amped is about a future in which the government and medical world have come together to help children, who would otherwise be at an academic disadvantage, with an "uplift" program. They implant devices into their heads that help them learn better, correct behavioral problems, see better and they come with a hand little port on your temple that allows them to be upgraded and such. The general public can also electively have these devices, these amps installed in their children just to give them a little boost. They can also cure epilepsy, blindness and a host of other problems that go on with the brain. So a decade after these devices have been assimilated into the general pop branches of political groups and religious groups now say it's unfair, they're taking jobs away from non-amps, they aren't even human anymore- and all sorts of other things that parallel lots of political debates we see running around today. The book starts right after a law has been passed in the Supreme Court saying Amps don't hold any rights anymore, no right to education, no right to enter contracts (a celebrity divorce is the focus of this one) and that they're basically in a limbo period of existence. The story continues to follow one man's journey to find out why his Amp is different and how to save the Amped and Non-Amped from civil war against one another.

Things I liked- The story. The story was short and sweet and easy to follow. It wasn't horrible repetitive and there were lots of details I feel like haven't already been run into the ground by other sci-fi books out there. The supporting characters are great, there's an ex-general-military guy who reminds me of Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, that has some great one-liners and has a very fleshed out character. We know exactly who he is and why he's doing the things he does. The extremists were really good too, they were totally believable. We see those same arguments being made today about illegal immigrants and gay marriage, so it's very easy to imagine how similar groups would feel about US citizens who get medical implants that make them smarter. Another thing I liked was that there was no cheesey love story for the sake of a love story- thanks D.H. Wilson!

The idea and concept was just so interesting, while I don't think we'll ever get little squid implants in our brains that help fix problems, I can foresee a future where these is technology that is integrated into our bodies that gives advantages to those who are able to afford it. The kicker here was that in some places the government came into people's neighborhoods and did this to kids without extensive testing and really without a lot of consent, they took these kids and did it to them and then left them there. One character calls it "government cheese" it's so common where he lives. Then after the government is the one who did this to them, the government is now the one saying they shouldn't have rights and that they need to be shipped off to "camps". Crazy.

What I didn't like- It was too damn short! OMG not even 300 pages on nook? I felt like they cut out stuff that could have been really interesting. The story of how the main character got from the Eastern US to Oklahoma when he was being hunted that could have taken more than 5 pages, instead he's hitchhiking one minute and in OK the next. Also the main character didn't really have a personality. I kept getting frustrated with him, we never really know what his motivation is. I realize his whole world had just been turned upside down, but I feel like we never really know him.

Something interesting- Samantha Blex- so a month or so before the book came out the author started a Facebook page for a character we only see in the first chapter of a book. She's the character that the education supreme court case is based on- the Facebook page is basically her diary of the time leading up to the book. I liked it- although again like the main character of the book I didn't get very emotionally attached to her and I didn't feel like she was completely fleshed out, but here Facebook made for an interesting read and the first chapter of the book came as a bit of a shock to me after spending a month with her character online. You can see it here

So basically I didn't like the main character as a character or the length of the book. But after it's all said and done and three days later I can't say how I feel about this book. It was exciting and kept my interest. I didn't want to put it down, but there was just something missing. Something that 3 days later doesn't make me want to read it again. I really like this author's writing style and I was really looking forward to this book, so maybe that's why it was sort of disappointing.

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