review; amped

Title: Amped
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Pub. Date: June, 2012
Summary: In Amped, people are implanted with a device that makes 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, twenty-nine-year-old Owen Gray joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps.” Owen is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumored, a group of the most enhanced amps may be about to change the world—or destroy it.
Genre: Sci-Fi

Hot on the heels of his wildly successful Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson delivers Amped, another near-future sci-fi thriller. Going into Amped, I had no idea it took ploace in Pittsburgh! That’s where I live and I love reading books with my city as the backdrop; I love being able to know exactly where a particular character is, know exactly what building they’re looking at or which restaurant they’re eating in.

You make a tool to fix a problem, right? But – and I’ve thought about this – it’s the boundaries that define us. Bold, black lines that can’t be crossed – the limits of human ability. Lately, the edges have been torn off the map.

In Amped, major breakthroughs have been made in technology. Amputees have regained limbs. Mentally challenged children are now able to keep up with the rest of their class, if not surpass the other kids. All because of a tiny, asprin-sized piece of metal (known as an amp) inserted into a person’s brain. The amp sends out a constant stream of electrical stimulation, resulting in a heightened – or amplified – state of intelligence, concentration, strength, speed, you name it.

It was new life for kids in need. Until one day an amp kid threw a football hard enough to snap ribs. A high school debate championship got cancelled when the judges realized two-thirds of the participants had amps. A new generation of children was arriving, smart and fast and strong enough to send chills down your human-spine.

At first, no one bats an eye at the new breed of humans. Initially, it was done for strictly medical purposes. Our main character, Owen Gray, received his amp due to seizures. Parents wanted to cure their children and give them a shot at a decent life.

Things slowly changed, however. The amp children were suddenly far stronger and smarter than regular children – or reggies as they’re called in the novel. It escalated to such proportions that the Supreme Court became involved. There was discrimination on all levels – reggies didn’t want amps in schools, reggie adults felt their jobs were being taken away by amps since they were able to work harder and longer without tiring.

Senator Joseph Vaughn was at the forefront of the Pure Pride movement. Again, initially, it started out as harmless protests. Then things turned violent and a full-scale war was launched.

I wonder what kind of doctor could do this to a man. Ninety-nine percent of amps are regular people who happen to have a dot on their temple. They are mothers and fathers and children. This is something I’ve never seen or even fathomed – a harbinger of a new world, populated by new people who I can hardly recognize as human.

Upon his father’s murder, Owen discovers what he really is: a secret, unknown Zenith. There were originally twelve Zeniths, a classified unity of soldiers created by the Army. When Owen was 14, he suffered a terrible accident and in a desperate attempt to save his life, his father had stolen the technology used in Zenith amps and inserted it into his son. Yes, it did help with the seizures, but Owen is so much more than he had ever dreamed. And now he’s the most wanted man in America.

All over the United States, tiny communities are popping up, safe havens for amps and their families. One such community is Eden, deep in the heart of Oklahoma. Before he dies, Owen’s father instructs Owen to go to Eden and find Jim, an old colleague. Owen will be safe there and possibly discover some insight as to what he truly is.

Amped was a great book. The technology was beautifully described and enough details were given that at no point did I feel lost or confused. Once Owen awakens his Zenith and consents to its abilities, things got crazy. In a totally awesome way. I could vividly picture each level, particularly toward the end as Owen reached down deeper and deeper.

The only qualm I have with this novel are the fights. Once Owen gives in to his Zenith, it felt as though it was one fight after another. The story never took a backseat to the fighting, but it almost became a chore to read and seemed unnecessary.

I can definitely picture Amp as a movie, particularly given the recent surge in popularly of sci-fi films. Until that happens, though, I’m perfectly content enjoying this book & I can’t wait to see what Daniel H. Wilson will give us next.

Notable Quotes

It’s a science-lab nightmare that could make Dr. Frankenstein piss his lab coat.

“Plants, animals, men, angels, then god. Difference between men and angels is that men are stuck in a body. They feel pain, hunger, thirst. But me and you, we don’t have to feel them things. Body diagnostics come on level one. Easy. We can turn off the human condition. So maybe we’re closer to angels, you know?”

“This is our army. Our people. Strong and hurt. We’re the wounded supermen of tomorrow, Grey. It’s time you got yourself healed. New world ain’t gonna build itself. And the old world don’t wanna go without a fight.”


2 thoughts on “review; amped

  1. Leah I have to say that this has been a long time coming. What I mean is that it has taken me far too long to reply on your blog about a post or even your writing in general. For that I am sorry. But let me tell you what I think…

    From start to finish your review kept my attention in a way that I felt I was reading a professional at work. As I try my hardest to take any “boyfriend bias” out of this, I really mean it when I say you have a talent.

    When you love a book, it is with ease that you write in a way that your followers have no choice in the matter but to agree. Not because we are forced into it, but because of how captivating, and thorough you are in your review.

    One day, all of this practice is going to pay off. I’m so lucky to be more than a casual browser, follower, or friend. I’m glad I can be there WITH you to support your dreams. You will make them all come true.


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