Amped by Daniel H. Wilson is the second of Wilson’s novels I’ve read this year. Earlier in 2012 I listened to the audiobook of his thriller Robopocalypse and enjoyed it. It was scary, well-written, and, worst thing? Believable.
Amped follows along the same lines in that it is a truly believable situation: Americans who have been altered with neuro implants (brain implants that correct such disorders as ADHD, epilepsy, deafness, and more) are considered enemies of “pure” humans. The implant, originally considered advanced technology and medicine, became a source of hatred and discrimination for those who were not enhanced or amplified (hence the moniker “amped”). Those with the telltale scar on their temples, signs that they have had the operation, were forced from their homes by hostile neighbors and former friends who were angry that their mediocrity was enhanced by the presence of the amped people.
The book follows Owen, a 29 year old teacher whose father was the inventor of the implant. After his father’s murder, Owen flees the city to find the man who can give him answers as to what is really inside of his head. What he finds along the way is hostility, hatred, murder, and he must make a choice to fight or flee.
I received this book as an advanced reader copy (ARC) at the American Library Association Conference, so a big “thank you!” to the publisher Doubleday for the free read. Because it is an unfinished proof, I want to withhold judgement…but I cannot.
For how descriptive Robopocalypse was, I found Amped to be completely lacking in all details, including setting, character development, and character interactions. Owen’s internal thoughts are so obvious and boring, that I really hope they were just placeholders for the final, fully descriptive, content. I found Owen to be lackluster in completing the mission he (rather begrudgingly) undertook. I didn’t feel like his whole heart was in the mission, nor was it in the very disjointed romantic relationship he embarked (awkwardly) on.
I will still encourage readers of doomsday/dystopia to read his last novel, but I will omit Amped from my recommendation list. I would love to know if the final product was better than the ARC I read. But sadly, I won’t take the time to read it to find out.