Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Genre: Science fiction/ Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday (Random House)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
My Copy: Published book via Goodreads First Reads
What would you do if you could choose to be something . . . more: have your vision and hearing enhanced, become smarter and stronger, be vital even in old age. Even fix medical ailments and control prosthetics with your mind. In Daniel H. Wilson’s Amped, people can now choose to have their brain implanted with a amplifier and their bodies enhanced. Thousands of Americans have chosen to become better versions of themselves. They are becoming “amps”. But as more and more people become amps, “pure” humans feel threatened. They can’t compete against amps. The amps go against the natural order, against God. As more and more legislation is passed, amps lose their rights and backlash is inevitable. Owen Gray has an amp. But his is medical, only intended to treat his seizures. Or so he believes. On the day that amps lose their Fourteenth Amendment rights, he learn that his amplifier might be something greater than he ever knew. Even greater than the standard implants, in fact. After heading out to seek the truth, he gets drawn into a plot that could rock this nation to its very core.
Owen is a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t immediately connect to him either. His backstory is minimal: we get the reason for his amp and not much else. The same is true for all characters, in fact. They aren’t given much of a description or story, leading to an overall lack of empathy on my part for them. Lucy, for instance, is a character it seems I should care about, but I can’t possibly bring myself to. I can’t even see why Owen should care for her. Their romance, if it can be called that, is as deep as a shower. Nick, on the other hand, I liked. He seems like a sweet kid just trying to grow up in a turbulent time.
The pace is breakneck, perhaps to a fault. Everything happens so fast and there is hardly ever a dull moment. It all very exciting for the duration of the novel, but then the ending seemed slapped together. More description in the latter pages would’ve helped tremendously. In the interest of not posting spoilers, I’ll just say some things were skimmed over and I’m still curious as to how certain points resolved themselves. Still, this is definitely a fast and fun read. Between the fight scenes and the chaos, the amp abilities and the lawlessness, it was hard to put this one down. I finished the book in one afternoon, and I can easily see this book being made into a movie.
Amped raises some very interesting questions: How do we define humanity? How far can science go? Where do we draw the line? But the most pressing question of of all: Could the sort of legal discrimination that occurs in Amped really happen in America? It has in the past, here and elsewhere. The parallels in Amped to the Holocaust are most apparent, the maintenance port a Star of David. And surely this nation has learned from the worldwide history of human suffering. . . right?
Amped isn’t a philosophical look at the human condition in the midsts of a societal crisis, though. It’s a fast paced, action packed novel with some serious entertainment value.