Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Source: Random House via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.
Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of “amplified” humans.
On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.
First Sentence: "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."
Amped is my first experience with Daniel H. Wilson, but it certainly will not be my last. Though I did not love Amped, there was enough awesome stuff in there to make reading his other novel Robopocalypse a definite. His science fiction plotlines (based on these two) are so awesome. I just adore science fiction, and I don't read enough of it.
In the world of Amped, science has developed the Neural Autofocus. When implanted, the Neural Autofocus can do many things. The primary use was to fix people. For example, the Neural Autofocus can make the use of artificial limbs seamless and natural. They can prevent epilepsy. They can also take a child with ADD or an unintelligent child and give them additional focus, turning them from one of the weakest students to one of the best. What Daniel H. Wilson has done is take the plot of Flowers for Algernon and then make it a solution for everyone, and one that lasts. Very cool.
I really, really liked the first half of Amped. My guess is that most readers will have a strong preference for either the first hald or the second, as they are VERY distinct. The opening chapters are all about ethics, about the political and social impact that this technology would have upon mankind. Basically, and totally believably, there is a backlash against the amps, the people with the Neural Autofocus, because the normal people, the reggies, resent that they are now being outperformed. The implant makes those people smarter, faster, better. So what does the government do? Declares any person with an implant to be non-human. OH SNAP. Shit goes down.
What Amped reminds me of more than anything is X-Men. People with extraordinary powers? Different, but check. Resentment of common man? Check. Senator out to get the people with powers? Check. Powerful guy that wants to start a war so that the amps can take over? Check. Powerful guy that just wants everyone to live in peace? Check. This book is X-Men, minus the colorful supporting cast.
The second half of the book really lost my attention, because it got into Owen, our MC, learning how to use the secret hidden parts of his Neural Autofocus (because his dad gave him a special one). This part is all explosions and battles and grisly descriptions of wounds. I was super bored by all of this. However, if you don't like philosophical, political discussions, then power through the first half and you will get to read about SO MUCH FIGHTING.
Overall, Amped was definitely still a fun read, even if I have to give it a lower rating for being uneven. If you like Amped, you should definitely check out Machine Man by Max Barry, especially if, like me, you were more fascinate by the first half.
"‘It’ll turn me into a weapon,’ I say, my voice suddenly loud.
‘All you got to do is curl your hands into fists and you turn into a weapon,’ says Jim. ‘Your body is just another tool. This technology changes nothing; it only amplifies. You decide how to use your tools. Whether to do good or evil.’"
"Got a machinehead better than the rest"