Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are You a BZRKer?

There are two worlds: the macro and the micro. Wars are fought on the macro between men. Wars are fought on the micro between nanobots and biots... inside men. Both are destructive, both have the ability to wield great power, but only the bots can rewire a person. In Michael Grant's BZRK, the risks are always worth the trouble.

Plath watched her father's plane taken down with both her father and brother aboard. Coincidentally (although there never are coincidences), the plane crashed into the very stadium where she was enjoying a game. But Plath wasn't killed, despite a very obvious intent. Instead, as the last surviving McLure, she was recruited into BZRK, the secret group of "agents" (kids and gamers who now control biots) who try to prevent the Armstrong twins and their company, Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, from world domination. The conjoined twins and their company might seem innocuous enough, but anyone who has spent time on the micro level know the damage their nanobots can wreak. 

Now there is a plan to quite literally take over the world. AFGC wants to sink nanobots into every world leader on the planet and control them from the inside out. BZRK will take every step to stop them, but the stakes are much higher for the BZRKs. Their biots are created using their own DNA and are therefore connected to their controller on a level that would leave the BZRK crazy if even one was to die. The AFGC twitchers control the nanobots, which are simply machines. When you face an enemy who can't feel pain and will stop at nothing, you find yourself up against an insurmountable foe. But the BZRKs fight for something that is worth the risk: their freedom.

This book started with a bang as the McLure plane crashed into the stadium, but then it quickly hit an air pocket: a place where the lingo and technical specifics are so confusing and obscure you lose sight of the purpose of the book altogether. In fact, there is no proper explanation of the difference between biots and nanobots (and the difference is significant to the story) until about 70 pages in. Luckily, there is a key for all important characters (which is good because they all have real names and handles, and I found myself mixing them up right to the end) and the companies and technology. This helped me to better understand the book, but it left me wondering why that information, if so important, wasn't shared earlier in the story.

As the story progressed, though, I did find it fascinating even though really techie science fiction isn't usually my schtick. Some of the lingo was hokey, and quite frankly, the "bad guys" (or guy- they are conjoined twins) is more laughable than terrifying. Sure, they seem diabolical, but all that talk about their conjoined body, etc. left me without much fear even though I knew they were essentially taking over the world. I think a real villain, not one that is gross and laughable, would have really made this book better, more serious, and less hokey in the long run, but still it was a pretty good book. I would not give this to any kid unless I knew they could get through the technical jargon and had the patience to figure everything out, because there is a lot to the back story that requires understanding for the current story to continue. But if I knew a gamer or science fiction fan, I would surely pass this story on.

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