Tuesday, February 28, 2012

YA Sci-Fi: BZRK by Michael Grant

Series: BZRK #1
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Date: February 28, 2012
Format: ARC
Acquired: won from Jessie's Remarkable Reads
Read: because it's an upcoming YA sci-fi novel
Pages: 386
Reading time: three days

From GoodReads: Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia. A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:
-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens
-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots.  If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die.  Hence the name BZRK.

My review: I keep reading YA sci-fi and claiming that this one's the most exciting, then this one...okay, BZRK really is the most thrilling. It's written as a YA sci-fi thriller, and it definitely delivers accordingly. Nonstop action, interspersed with the ubiquitous bit of romance, appropriate gore and gruesomeness, the typical teenage profanity and sexual references. Yep, this is meant as a book for young adults. But besides the usual plot devices, BZRK emerges as a unique read. The plot is perfectly coherent, with very little confusion and non sequiturs. It would be easy to lose readers in the biological and technological details - BZRK is also unique among the recent outpouring of YA sci-fi because it is "hard" sci-fi - but the author does a great job explaining the biot/nanobot innerworkings without boring us.

A few things I didn't like in what was otherwise a totally awesome and exciting read: the humor. It seemed like Grant was trying to make the reader laugh at times (hey, some comedic relief is always nice), and it was falling flat. I thought the characters were either stereotypical or stereotypical in their non-stereotypicalness. The bad guys are described as biological monsters (if I was a conjoined twin, I'd take offense), the rich European dude was a snob, the rich American girl and the poor British guy fall in love, and the bad guys' hench(wo)man is a petite, deceptively feminine sadist. Really, now?

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