27 September 2023


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Reviewed by Robert Goodman.

By Blake Crouch, Pan Macmillan, $34.99.

Blake Crouch’s recent books have taken different science fiction tropes and reinvented them to great effect. Dark Matter delivered a dizzying multiverse while Recursion played with the concept of changing the past. In Upgrade, Crouch takes on the genetic superman trope, seen in movies like Limitless and Lucy, in which the protagonist is able to unlock the full power of the human brain and body. And as with the other two books, Crouch builds his premise into a fast paced but thoughtful thriller.

Logan Ramsay works for the Genetic Protection Agency (GPA), responsible for tracking down rogue scientists who are misusing the gene altering technology created by his famous mother Miriam. But a trap leads to his own DNA being rewritten in ways that could only be called improvements. Logan finds he has faster thought, perfect memory, improved reflexes, immunity to all diseases, higher bone density and more. Leading the GPA to capture him and put him in the lab. But Logan needs to find out who has done this to him and what their bigger plan is, leading him to dig deep into his newly found powers.

There is an underlying philosophy to Upgrade. Logan is not blind to the impacts of climate change on his world and the question becomes – would an upgraded humanity be able to rise to the challenge of saving the species. And then the question becomes: what price in lives would be low enough to make that equation balance. Logan has to consider all this while finding that his own upgrades preference the logical and rational over his emotional mind. But the narrative does not slow down while contemplating these issues – it is still a fast paced romp full of fights and chases that keep the pages turning.

Over 800 more book reviews can be found on Pile by the Bed.

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