Shane's Reviews > Amped

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson
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's review
Jun 26, 2012

it was ok

Amped is the latest offering from Portland, Oregon's best selling author Daniel H. Wilson. DHW is most known for his previous works "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" and "Robopacalypse". Neither of which this reviewer has read.

Meet Owen Gray; schoolteacher, former epileptic, son of an implant doctor, implantee. In short, he's an amp. A growing class of citizens who for one reason or another has had a medical implant surgically placed into their brains. Amps are conveniently...errr...easily identified by a small maintenance port on their temples. Long story short, this new class of society suddenly finds out that the rest of society no longer considers them human based on the various physical and mental abilities provided by the implants. Humans are defined by their boundaries, boundaries these implants have blown to pieces. Game on.

The premise of the book is awesome. I love the idea and the first few chapters had me brimming with excitement. The book moves along at a quick pace and there's very little if any downtime. In this sense the author does an amazing job of making you feel like your caught up in the same whirlwind as the characters. Unfortunately that's about the only praise I have for Amped, that and the cover art.

I know this is going to sound harsh but this is one of the sloppiest books I've read in awhile. There are plot holes galore and inconsistencies at every corner. I'll outline some of the bigger ones in the spoiler section below. It's written on a YA level yet the language precludes it from being a YA novel. The main character, Owen Gray, has less personality than my couch and is about as deep. Aside from one or two secondary characters, there isn't much to root for here. Foreshadowing is one thing but the ending is pretty much written out for you half way through the book (no pun intend).

It's unfortunate to see such a promising premise turn out such a mediocre product. I really can't recommend this one. If it wasn't so rushed feeling or if it was a bit more put together I'd be able to recommend it as a fun, easy going summer read but that's about the height of it.


Alright, you've read Amped, loved it and wonder what the eff my problem is. Here ya go..

1. Lyle. Where do I begin. Does anyone seriously believe this guy has the personality traits of a Special Forces officer? Does anyone really buy that Lyle the hothead passed all the meditative tests mentioned? We're talking about one of America's Elite and he's running a street gang of kids? Oh let's not forget that the only requirement to join said gang is to get beat in like some ghetto gang.

2. Lyle and Gray's mugshots have been posted on every media and law enforcement outlet from coast to coast for over a week and the cop that shows up at Eden chasing some amp doesn't recognize either of them? Later on in the story when Lyle and Gray confront the Sheriff he doesn't recognize them either outside of being the Amps that messed with his Deputy.

3. Page 95 Gray mentions that one seizure just ended which means it's time for the next one. Then on page 97 Gray says it's been years (not minutes) since his last seizure. Which is it?

4. Lyle goes level 5, "whole hog", for the first time in field standoff with the spotlighters. What? Dude was part of a special Army amp unit and not once during all of their training did they ever train on level 5? They just gave them this insane militarized hardware and never tested it? Riiiight. Level 5 also has long term strategic planning, something Lyle has been doing long before actually going level 5. None of it meshes.

5. Sheriff Gunning spills the beans about Valentine for no reason other than boasting. Both EM and Astra are like the Bad News Bears of secret organizations, not a single believable professional among them. Astra beats people up to join and EM has rednecks with shotguns who drink beer all night. Why can't we read about the pro's fighting this war?

6. Vaughn admits to everything while interrogating Gray. Ummm...Vaughn, the guy who funded Gray's retinal implant somehow has no clue that the thing actually records? The story could have ended right there. All Gray had to do was upload the video to the net and game over but the book needed to be a bit longer so the author adds a 25 minute time limit to recordings and just delays using the same trick until later.

7. Gray takes a cab after escaping from a maximum security secret prison. What??? So semi-trucks hauling the occasional hitchhiker have cameras in them but cabs don't? Makes sense. Don't even get me started on the shaved head shit working with the semi earlier in the book.

8. Did anyone really not know that "something extra" meant level 6?

The list goes on and on and on but you get the point. The whole thing is just sloppy.

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Reading Progress

June 25, 2012 – Started Reading
June 26, 2012 – Shelved
June 27, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Neil I thought it odd that everybody's hardware was a decade old. The MK-4 came out at least 8 years ago. The Zenith came out 10 years ago. The age of the retinal and cochlear implants is never mentioned but they are definitely second fiddle to the auto-focus and zenith devices. What has General Biologics been doing for the last decade? Apparently sitting on their butts and counting their money (and spending none of it on lobbying groups). I find it extremely hard to believe that after echo squad, the defense department gave up on the idea of implanted soldiers, especially given that the rest of the world has apparently plowed ahead with the technology. There is no way that something a whole lot newer and more powerful than the zenith is not in use by the military and I find it astonishing that it wouldn't have made its way into the story somehow.

Kristina His first book, the Robot one, is much, much better. This one was AWFUL. Good review. I took 2 pages of notes about what I hated/inconsistencies and you had a lot I missed.

Martin English *SPOILERS* I didn't get why Owen rips his own implant out at then end for the 20-25 minute cached recording to be (maybe) examined by law enforcement. Wasn't there was a perfectly good dead Zenith lying nearby with the same info recorded? Why couldn't he just grab Lyle's and keep from going unconscious himself, unless for some reason the cache is deleted when the user dies.., You could probably come up with little 'workaround' excuses for a lot of this stuff.

Like Shane says, Lyle doesn't seem like much of a soldier. Almost every description of him has him as a this scrawny "scarecrow" type character. Aren't elite forces usually more on the muscular side?

Also, why is it Owen has major problems preventing himself from killing a guard at the bridge shanty town, but when he actually intends to kill Vaughn at the graveyard he snaps out of Zenith-activation immediately?

Now that I think about it, there's lots of things that don't make sense in this book! Still a fun read though.

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