Amped - Daniel H. Wilson

Daniel Wilson masterfully envisions a frightening near-future world. In Amped, people are implanted with a device that makes 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, twenty-nine-year-old Owen Gray joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as "amps." Owen is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumored, a group of the most enhanced amps may be about to change the world—or destroy it.






This story had a unique concept, I'll give it that! While I enjoyed parts of it, as a whole I was hoping for a little more cyber-thriller element... and there it fell short for me. 


Amped looks at a futuristic world where humans can have "amps" surgically implanted into their brains to correct a variety of health problems or concerns, be they mental or physical -- seizures (from epilepsy or otherwise), learning disabilities, neurological disorders (some "amped" patients opt to use the technology as a way to more naturally control prosthetic limbs) -- the applications appear endless and, at first anyway, the technology seems well received by the public. 


As time goes on, a different general consensus starts to form. Soon it goes political and the Supreme Court decides that choosing to be amped is now deemed an elective procedure and those who went through the process now find that they are not granted the same rights and freedoms that the non-amped can expect. In fact, amped humans are starting to be hunted down. Riots break out across the city and one man in particular, Owen, finds that in just the course of one day he manages to be dismissed from his job, evicted from his apartment, have his posessions destroyed, and all his friends mysteriously turn away from him.


Our main character, Owen, is the son of a doctor. Dad-doctor did the procedure on his own son. What he didn't tell Owen was that he inserted a special kind of amp with some extra technology only a few in the world have -- something that can give him super charged mental abilities, which obviously can be used for good or bad, depending on what kind of man Owen chooses to be. Owen's father confesses that the government is likely to be after Owen once word gets out what kind of technology he has in his head, but tells Owen of one man who can help him harness his new powers. So Owen goes on a little roadtrip from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, where he discovers a whole colony of amped people who have retreated from society. 


I don't know if it was intentional, but there were some similarities to this story and the real life attempt of Hitler trying to create the Aryan race. There's one politician in this story who gives these impassioned, fear-inducing speeches about how the amped ones are taking over the world and how the survival of humankind relies on the "purity" of the race. So the amped are forced to go into hiding ... Sound familiar?!


There was a decent story here, it just didn't leave me breathless. I did like all the different kinds of characters in the story and I liked getting to know the community in Oklahoma, seeing them pull together. There was a mild romance that seemed like it was just stuck in there, not really as developed as I would have liked (but there were inklings of something good there) and that ending was a little too cheeze-tastic for me. Also, I wondered about some of the word choices --- would a father just casually talking to his son really throw around words like "obsfucate?" I know in our family, we rib people when they do that, saying "ohhh look at you busting out the Scrabble words!" ;-)