With the average human attention span being reduced to 8 seconds (a second behind a goldfish), it’d be nice to upgrade the ol’ noggin to get more stuff done. For many, such a tuneup would be a dream come true. But what if it was done without your permission? Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter and Recursion, brings forth this concept in his latest sci-fi thriller, Upgrade.
Agent Logan Ramsay has been trying to keep a low profile because of his name, a name associated with 2 million deaths, courtesy of Dr. Miriam Ramsay’s (his mother) gene-editing experiment. Things change when, during a raid, he’s hit with an unexplained substance that seems to have an unusual effect on his body and perception. His vision and thoughts are crystal clear. His body is stronger. He’s able to pinpoint memories from childhood perfectly (as if he’s reliving them). He can anticipate what other people are going to say based on their micro-expressions and body language.
Though he’s been stuck underground in a lab where the FBI (Intelligence Division) has been studying and testing his abilities, his sister manages to break him out. Turns out, she’s had the same upgrade as her brother as their notorious mother could see the end of humanity. But with this upgrade, she wants the siblings to continue her work to ensure the continuation of human life.
A thriller of this nature needs to have a balance of some sort – action to move the story forward and enough science to make it all believable. Upgrade has action (occasionally) and the science appears believable. The main issue with Blake Crouch’s story is it tends to over-explain the science. It gets irritating to have simple, everyday terms explained as if readers had never attended elementary school. Though the writing was sound, the ending felt a bit cheesy as he does hit on the main issue with humanity: humans are definitely too greedy to think about others.