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Book review: ‘Amped’

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The Details

Amped
Two stars
By Daniel H. Wilson, $25

Daniel H. Wilson’s last book, Robopocalypse, was the best thriller I’ve read in years, probably my second favorite thriller of all time, behind Angels & Demons. But Wilson’s new thriller, Amped, mostly sucks.

Like Robopocalypse, Amped takes place in the future. Half a million Americans have computer chips implanted in their brains, which are supposed to help with mental illness but, it turns out, can also be used to turn people into killing machines. When everybody else figures this out, the Amps (people with devices in their heads) are beaten up and forced into ghettos. The situation degenerates from there.

The plot isn’t the problem. The problem is the stiff dialogue, the often too-cute narration (“I turn to Jim and there is no Jim”) and the phoned-in emotions. Particularly that of the forced love story. Which is ironic, because Robopocalypse’s love narrative felt genuine, and that one took place between a human and a robot.

Amped’s best aspect: its fake documents—Supreme Court opinions, newspaper articles, advertisements. I wish the whole book were done as a series of collected documents, like Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral’s recent teen novel Chopsticks. Alas.

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