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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Amped

Title: Amped
Author: Daniel H. Willson
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date: 
 June 5, 2012
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make 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, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-suppressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.

Review: Daniel H. Wilson arrived to the novel scene with last year's inventive tale, "Robopocalypse". Combining a well thought out story with factual information (Wilson has a PhD in robotics), Wilson debuted a highly entertaining novel that earned critical and financial success. The film rights to the novel were even obtained by director Steven Spielberg. With fond memories of my time spent with his previous novel, I began reading "Amped" with high expectations.

In this sophomore novel, Wilson imagines a future in which humans have used technology to enhance their physical and mental abilities, creating a multitude of amplified humans (amps). Owen Gray, a high school teacher, is a medical amp. He was implanted with a device at a young age to help control his seizures. While Owen is a pretty straightforward amp, other humans have been amped to such a high level that normal humans fear them. Fueled by the zealous persuasion of Senator Joseph Vaughn, the Supreme Court passes laws that differentiate the rights of Amps from those of regular people (Reggies).

We abruptly learn that Owen's father, who was a lead scientist in the development of Amps, added another element to Owen's implant, one that gives him superhuman characteristics of the highest degree. Set on learning more about himself and on helping gain equal rights for all humans, Owen heads to an Amp refuge in Oklahoma, where he is forced to decide which side of the battle to fight on, and to dig deep inside of himself for the sake of humanity.

I was extremely disappointed by this novel. At only 288 pages, the whole narrative felt extremely rushed, and the characters were not given enough time for development. I was reminded of a similar novel, "Toys" by James Patterson, in which a man finds out that he is not what he thinks and is thrust into a battle between enhanced and regular humans. I can't believe that I actually enjoyed the Patterson novel more that this one. Overall, "Amped" lacks the technical reality, emotionally drawn characters, and unique concept that made "Robopocalypse" a success. Without these components, we are left with a subpar story that moves to an inevitable ending.

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