July 6, 2012

Review: Amped

Daniel H Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 3

“Look at us. Amps. We're morons smarter than Lucifer. Cripples stronger than gravity. A bunch of broke-ass motherfuckers stinking rich with potential. This is our army. Our people. Strong and hurt. We're the wounded supermen of tomorrow, Gray. It's time you got yourself healed. New world ain't gonna build itself. And the old world don't want to go without a fight.”

Amped takes place in a future America where technology has managed to help individuals overcome disorders of the brain. Amplification devices are fitted to manage everything from ADD to epilepsy. Sounds great right? Well in a country legendary for its history of discrimination, these devices cause a whole new civil rights movement. It just so happens that people fitted with these amplifiers also benefit from enhanced neural processing and focus, setting them at a cut above the rest. Schools and workplaces are becoming inundated with individuals who are smarter, faster, and stronger than the average American, leaving everyone else in the dust. So, what's an average American to do? Take it to the supreme court of course.

When the supreme court rules that amplified Americans (Amps) are not equally protected under the Constitution, the world becomes a frightening place for anyone with a maintenance port on their temple. There is rioting in the streets and people are being thrown out of their homes as contracts with Amps are no longer being recognized as legal and binding. Enter Owen Gray, a man whose amplification merely keeps him from going into epileptic seizures; or so he thinks. Amped started off with a bang, hooking me from the very first chapter. I kept saying to myself, "This is it! That epic read I've been waiting for!"

The narrative reminded me so much of Ready Player One that my awesome meter exploded and I started raving to my friends and family about how Amped was going to be the best read of my year. Little did I know...

It literally felt like it was the skeletal outline of a much longer novel. With an idea with this much potential, I was really looking forward to an epic read. While, Amped combines familiar aspects of American history with futuristic technology to create a concept that is wonderfully intriguing, it fails to really follow through. Wilson spends too much time jumping the reader from one major plot point to the next and not enough time developing the core characters and exploring the epic possibilities of cybernetic civil rights.

Amped does have some spectacular moments where you get a glimpse at what a truly remarkable work of science fiction this could have been had the author taken more time to develop his idea. The wasted potential is even more highlighted by the newspaper articles, court rulings, and press releases at the end of each chapter detailing how the events were impacting the nation as a whole. For all its ambitious concept and likeable characters, there just wasn't enough meat to back it up.

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