Upgrade by Blake Crouch Book Review
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After a worldwide tragedy is caused by genetic manipulation, laws are put into place banning the research. Having played an unknowing part in the devastation, and serving time for it, Logan Ramsey now works for an organization that takes down gene labs. But his latest bust may be his last. As he and his partner enter the lab, an explosion causes ice shrapnel to lodge in Logan's body. As it melts, something races through his body, rewriting his genetic code. At first, it seems like he only has a case of the flu. But when his intelligence increases and his body begins to change, Logan’s fear of being genetically mutated comes to a startling reality. And his employer would rather lock him away in a black box than risk his genetic mutation from spreading.
The concept behind Upgrade was fascinating. What would happen if scientists could manipulate the human genome, making them faster, stronger, smarter, and impervious to disease? But then again, if they were able to do that, would it be taking things too far? Upgrade explores the reasons behind gene manipulation and possible complications resulting from it. And it throws in a dash of family conflict too.
Logan has always wanted to be as smart as his mother. Her comprehension and ability to manipulate genes made her one of the top geneticists. However, she was more dedicated to her work than being a parent, leaving behind an absence of emotion Logan carries throughout his life. Not to mention Logan served time behind bars for the devastation his mother’s last experiment caused. It’s no wonder Logan pursues a job he can’t stand in an attempt to make up for past mistakes. When Logan’s sister was introduced into the story I was hoping to see the complicated family dynamics play a large part in the story. However, the focus remained on the implications of gene science versus family drama.
While conflicts arise between Logan and his sister, they are captured in short clips. This allows the reader to uncover how they feel about their mother’s impact on the world but doesn’t fully delve into how Logan and his sister feel toward each other. Rather than exploring their bond by allowing them enough page time together, the reader is told how they feel and immediately the story time jumps after a major conflict between them. I would have liked to see more time spent on Logan's inner thoughts and how he felt clashing with his sister. There is an obvious anger reaction, but nothing much outside of it. And each time they meet years down the road, similar time jumps occur, never focusing long enough for the reader to see a full picture of the two other than reacting to whatever current problem is occurring.
However, the way Blake Crouch explores Logan’s evolution is fascinating. As his intelligence increases, Logan is finally able to function at a higher level on par with his mother. And he fully explores the capabilities of his body and mind. This draws the reader into otherworldly possibilities the human body could potentially experience. It also leads the reader into contemplating the ethical implications of such an upgrade.
For readers who enjoy plot-driven science fiction novels, Upgrade will be the book for you. There is a mix of gene science and ever evolving problems caused by it. Instead of dwelling too long on the repercussions against relationships and personal needs. The story steadily moves along, sometimes doing time jumps to accentuate the progress of forced gene evolution. But if you enjoy more character based storylines as I do, I would not suggest you read Upgrade.
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