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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 August 2013
Bought on the back of the superb Robopocalypse and had high hopes for this one. Sadly soon dashed into a very predictable plot with an ending that was so obvious - wont tell you as I'm not that naughty.

Some may like this - if so, good for you.
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It's the near future and 500,000 people in America are `amps' - people with brain implants to either counter medical conditions or augment existing abilities. Owen Grey's amp was fitted by his surgeon father to counter his epilepsy but America's increasingly hostile to amps thanks to Senator Joseph Vaughn and his Pure Human Citizen's Council. Vaughn's efforts to segregate amps from normal humans are succeeding as a series of Supreme Court judgements withdraw the amps' rights to education, employment and even enter into contracts.

When Owen discovers that his amp's more than a medical device, he goes to Eden, a trailer camp in Oklahoma that serves as a refuge for amps. But Owen's search for answers will lead him to a highly classified military amp programme and Lyle Crosby, a cowboy who leads a movement for amps and who can show Owen how to use the dangerous technology in his head. The more Owen becomes involved with Lyle's group though, the more he's forced to question how far he will go in the name of amp rights ...

Daniel H Wilson's SF techno thriller is an unsophisticated, predictable read built around a dull main character who exists within an inconsistent and illogical world constructed solely to serve the meandering plot. None of the side characters rise above stock constructs and the villain is a cardboard cut out who left me rolling my eyes. I've read a number of Wilson's books now and while the ideas are great, the execution tends to leave me cold and I doubt that I'll check out his next work.

My main issue with this book was the way Wilson shows the legal judgments that shape the hostile environment for amps. There's no subtlety in the legal analysis, which assumes that amps have chosen to be that way even though we're told that many actually had the decision made by their parents. The lack of consideration of this left me irritated.

Owen is a bland character whose journey is largely determined by others. His romance with Lucy is limp and his face offs with Lyle lack tension because Lyle himself is two-dimensional while Vaughn is little more than a cartoon politician with the obligatory tragic backstory.

Ultimately I loved the idea for this book and wanted to enjoy it but the execution left me cold and I don't think I'll check out Wilson's future work.

Review copy from publisher.
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on 17 June 2013
I read this straight after Robopocalypse which I thought was brilliant.

My first impressions were fantastic. The book showed the same intelligence and depth of knowledge as Robopocalypse. It was also a very different story line as well as style of narrative. DHW is certainly not formulaic in his writing.

Secondly, the concept was mind stretching (intended pun). I was hooked straight away and couldn't wait to see where the story led. The genre of a new form of human / or human potential and societies reaction to it - similar to films like x-men and TV series like Heroes (the first 2 seasons anyway) - is an enticing and thought provoking concept. One which gets you thinking beyond the story.

Whilst I enjoyed the story and liked the style of writing, I was disappointed that the story took the direction it did. I thought there was too much concentration on the battle between the two main protagonists. I would have liked more on the genre and what it could do to other characters / society. This is where I thought the book would go at the start and I felt it turned into a well trodden genre instead.

I suppose there's potential to take the story further in an sequel, so perhaps this is just the first part of the journey?

If the Robopocalypse movie does well, I can see this being a sure follow up, as it would translate well to film.

Overall, I'd recommend the read with the caveats above.
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on 13 February 2013
An interesting follow-up to Robopocalypse discussing the near-future where individuals can elect to have implants which increase their cognitive powers. This inevitably leads to a situation of amped and non-amped individuals set against each other.
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on 18 July 2013
I'd read Robopocalypse by the same author and loved it and so I thought I'd give this a try. I found it un-put-down-able! If you like your Sci-Fi 'real' - no spaceships, aliens and galaxy-spanning tales - then you'll love it too. The technology is just 'there' and not the centrepiece, as it is in real life, and the story is about people's relationship with technology.

Buy it now and read it now. If you haven't read Robopocalype, then buy that now and read it now too.

Catch you later, G.
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on 21 December 2014
This is a dark, and entirely convincing post-apocalyptic sci-fi piece, which is probably why I didn’t like it as much as Robopocalypse. Call me goofy, but I insist even my End Times dramas come with some cheeky humor and unforgettable one liners, if only to break the monotony of the otherwise dark and dreary world being portrayed with relentless, grim determination. Something the author gave us in spades in Robopocalypse but fails to do here. Maybe he thought by losing the sense of humor the world would be just that much more terrifying, or that we’d take him that much more seriously. Ironically, I didn’t find it to be so. I found the world certainly that much more depressing, and something I didn’t want to escape to even for a few hours, far less live in indefinitely. And maybe that was as intended. Maybe considering the gravity of the subject matter the author felt it more important to wake us to eff up from our somnolence about a future that we’re sleepwalking into that if we could wake up for a moment, would surely run the other direction from. But for such a tale to be truly effective, you have to want to finish the story. And I found doing so this time around more of a chore than a truly enjoyable undertaking. But I may not have been the right audience for this book. If you like things dark and humorless, then by all means jump in (most people would insist that it’s the only way to dine on post-apocalyptic fare.)

On the plus side, the author is wrestling with very real and important issues, far more real and important than anything which makes the headline news. The latter seems if anything like a smoke and mirrors distraction from the real issues of our day. Things such as the ongoing, ever-expanding loss of jobs to automation, robotics, self-service IVRs and websites, and of late, Watson stepping in to do what even most doctors and highly educated people can’t. I guess it’s too scary and too depressing that people face the prospects of being made entirely obsolete in their own lifetime, surpassed and outclassed by AI in every way. And then, to add insult to injury, after being demoted from the top of the food chain, they come to find out their even more dire fate may well be to simply be eliminated from the food chain. Yeah, maybe with that in mind, I can see why the powers that be try to distract people from the issues that really matter. Hats off to this author for at least keeping things real, and for that he deserved my rounding up to four stars and my getting over myself regarding his story being a bit less fun of a read than I’d have liked. If, after all is said and done, he paints a picture of the future that seems that much more realistic and inescapable, can he really be blamed if that future isn’t something we want to live in? Or does that blame fall more properly on the rest of us too busy playing ostrich with our heads in the sand to insist these near-future concerns be front and center in the public forum?
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on 12 March 2013
While the story world it creates is absolutely mind boggling and very relevant today, and most characters are great, I thought the twists of the actual storyline were a little predictable at times, and also the antagonist(s) were a bit on the cliche side.

Still a great read and it does have a philosophical layer as well as being an excellent tense thriller.
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on 2 May 2014
Its very hard for me to get into a storyline of a book, but this really gripped me. It has to be by far one of the best books I've ever read. As someone who loves science fiction, this was perfect.

I would seriously recommend this book!
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on 24 December 2012
Is book started off really well, i was intrigued to find put more about the amp procedure. However i never finished it as it didn't seem to be heading for a clever twist, there was just more of the same. Its the last time i buy a boook recommended in the evening standard.
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on 6 September 2012
I always like to try new sci-fi authors, and reading the first few pages I was hooked. A great idea on what technology might throw up in the future - but from then on the plot becomes more predictable, and I found it an effort to finish the last few pages.
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