Thursday, May 28, 2015

BZRK - Review


From the Publisher: "You’ve already crossed the line. You are in. In. And there is no out for either of you." Sadie McLure wants to find her family’s killers. Noah Cotton needs to know what drove his brother insane. Their search for answers will throw them into the astonishing world of the nano — where biots and nanobots battle for supremacy, and the twitchers who control it all fight to stay sane. It’s a fight for free choice. Every day could be their last. They’ve never felt more alive.

I thought I was looking at a zombie novel when I picked up BZRK and was intrigued to discover the near future sci-fi premise above. Having worked at a school where students and professors were working towards the development of this sort of tech, I was very interested to see how author, Michael Grant portrayed it.

I wasn't disappointed.

Grant has created an amazing and terrifying world swarming with fantastic tech so grounded in theory and reality that it feels you could hear of its invention any day now. The plot in comparison, gets a little fantastical with a worldwide secret organization trying to take over the world via mind control (presumably to create world harmony), and another secret organization fighting to keep the world free. The story takes place on two levels, the macro, or the real world, and the nano, the microscopic world within and on human bodies. Grant does an amazing job of making the nano surreal and weirdly beautiful.

He writes in a brief, clean style with frequent POV shifts. I've never been a fan of stories with more than a couple POVs. I like to be in the hero's shoes, fighting the fight, and living the adventure right there at the epicenter. I feel that, that level of immersion is lost with six, seven, eight or more shifts. Another thriller trope Grant embraces that I'm not a real fan of, but which goes hand in hand with POV shifts, is the vomited out back story of each new character whose head we jump into. It feels trite and forced and well... easy. Why bother building things into the characters to show their backgrounds and history when you can just barf it all out right into the book in a few dense pages? I can't really blame Grant. Lots of authors do this but it yields characters are a little flat and Grant's are no exception. But this is a thriller. No one's wanting or expecting deep character development. Those annoying genre tropes aside, I really enjoyed Grant's writing. It kept the pages turning, some times very late into the night.

What to know: There is lots of cursing in this book. Dialogue--especially on the villain's part--is sometimes a virtual shock and awe campaign of F-bombs. There are lots of references to sex. The villain delights in having altered the mind of a young woman to find him irresistible to the point that she's willing to do anything for him (yeah, that sort of anything). One of the heroes likewise has done some fiddling with a woman's mind which lands them in bed together. None of it is graphic but rape, even techno-rape for the greater good isn't something heroes should be doing. The book is peppered with drug references, graphic violence, and gore throughout. All these things together make BZRK a novel I cannot recommend for any young reader. That said, adult readers who like Tom Clancy or other techy thrillers may get a real kick out of this well written, but badly marketed book.

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~SJA

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