Book Review: BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant
At the end of BZRK, our the entire BZRK cell was left in ruins after a battle at the nano level with the evil Armstrong Twins, conjoined brothers who see emotion and free will as the downfall of mankind. Their goal is to use nanotechnology to rewire human brains and will stop at nothing to see it happen. BZRK leader Vincent sits in a comatose state with secrets haunting his shattered mind, secrets that some people will stop at nothing to protect.
On the other side of the nanotech war, Bug Man has taken control of the president’s brain, with devastating consequences.
Noah and Sadie are left reeling from moment to moment trying to figure out who to trust, what to fight for, and holding on to whatever free will they can with little nanobots running through their bodies. Oh, and trying not to get dead.
BZRK Reloaded continues the heart stopping action and deep philosophical discussions that first presented themselves in BZRK. The stakes are upped, the action is amped, and the questions raised are powerful.
Here are my five reasons why you should be reading this series:
When you spend a lot of time with a person, years, they change in little ways. I have been married 18 years and my husband has changed a lot. I have given birth to two children and they have changed a lot. We always assume and take for granted that they are in charge of their destinies, that they are the ones choosing to become who they are becoming. But what if they are not? What if right beside you the person you loved was slowly changing and it wasn’t because of what they were experiencing and choosing, but because someone had taken and placed nanotechnology into their brains and were slowly rewiring them so that they could control them? One of the main themes present in BZRK Reloaded is trust: trusting your government, trusting your partner, trusting your loved ones. We trust because we assume free will and self determination, but what if the technology existed to take that away and we just didn’t know it yet? BZRK asks us to question the limits of science, to examine who we trust, and to imagine a world where we can’t trust the people we think we can.
As a person, as a U.S. citizen, I hold free will to be the most basic and fundamental of freedoms. You don’t get to tell me who to be, how to think, what to do, etc. But what if the technology existed to take those freedoms away? What if, worse yet, you didn’t even realize you were losing that freedom because the technology literally rewires your brain? It feels like that is what you are thinking and feeling, even if it is coming from an outside source. Free will is one of the primary themes of the American life, of human existence, and these thought provoking novels.
We talk a lot about the government in the news lately. Recent reports indicate that there is an increase in use of excessive force against U.S. citizens. After the Boston bombing martial law was declared as the police hunted for the suspects. It turns out the government is collecting data and using it every day in ways we didn’t know. There are a lot of people out there with different theories about the government, but it could be worse than we ever imagined: the government could be puppets for evil conjoined twins who have the technology to make the government do what they want them to do. In a time like today when we are questioning who is controlling the government, BZRK takes that thought process to whole new – and terrifying – levels.
Human Trafficking and the Ethics of Science
Human trafficking is a growing issue. We now know that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. Most of these individuals end up being used in various forms of sex slavery. In BZRK, they are also used as human experiments. Captured and experimented on against their will, the ethics of science become a huge talking point. It is a fascinating and all too important discussion that we should be having as we learn more and more what we can do with science. The question is: should we be doing it?
More Than YA
Although BZRK is told from teenager’s Noah and Sadies points of view, it is also told from a wide variety of grown up points of view as well. If there is anything I think this series is failing at, it is the marketing. This is not truly a YA book, it is a great Science Fiction series that also has some teenage points of view.
You do have to read BZRK first or you will understand nothing. But BZRK has the most amazing opening sequences ever so go for it. Here’s what Karen had to say about BZRK earlier.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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