I really enjoyed Robopocalypse, so I was stoked to see Amped on the shelf of my local Dollar Tree store. My elation deflated pretty quickly though, and by the end of the book I was just glad it was over.
Amped, by Daniel H. Wilson, was published in June 2012, a year after Robopocolypse. Set in the not-so-distant future, Amped is about the development and implantation of neural implants that boost brain functionality. Originally developed to assist mentally challenged individuals or other people with brain disorders, use of the implant technology was pretty quickly ported over to the military to create (naturally) neural enhanced super soldiers.
Owen is a high school teacher who has a neural implant to control his epilepsy. It also happens that Owen's father was a surgeon who helped develop the neural implants, specifically the one for Owen. People who have been implanted with the neural facilitators are called Amps. It's beginning to reach the point where some individuals (those who can afford them) are getting implants for themselves and/or their children to give themselves an advantage.
The general public (called Reggies by the Amps) sees that as unfair and it's spawned a back-lash against Amps. How can an unenhanced individual compete with someone who has an implant? In response to the outrage led by a charismatic senator, the Supreme Court passes a law essentially declaring individuals with implants non-people and devoid of rights.
Owen loses his job, and, following a last clue imparted by his father who was killed in a lab explosion Owen barely managed to escape, ends up in a community of Amps trying to survive in the middle of Oklahoma. It also turns out that his implant is much more than just a device to control his epilepsy. In fact, it's military grade hardware that makes Owen as much of a bad ass as any other Amped up super soldier.
Lyle, an Amped veteran in Oklahoma, just happens to be one such super soldier who's determined in his own erratic way to help Owen unlock the power of the implant, a power he'll need for the final showdown between the Amped and the Reggies....
OK. So let me get this straight. There's a device out there that impart super mental focus and intelligence that boosts mental function and can basically turn a human being into a super human being, both mentally and physically. And our country passes a law against it?
And our government actually listens to the poor disenfranchised people who are mad because they can't get implants?
If there's one thing humans do, and Americans particularly, it's look for and take advantage of ANYTHING that can give them an advantage. And if there's one thing governments do, it's cater to the wishes of the rich and powerful who, of course, would be first in line to get Amped up. Consider:
Starting to look old? Plastic surgery.
Bad eyes? Lasik.
Endurance? Blood doping.
Bigger muscles, faster recovery, enhanced physicality? Steroids.
Deaf? Cochlear implants.
Test time? Nootropics.
So the idea that people would be against neural implants is as ridiculous as the idea that our government would pay any attention to the protestations of the 99%. People would be lying, cheating stealing and committing insurance fraud to GET implants. And since resistance to and discrimination against people with implants is central to the whole story, the whole story didn't work for me. It's just a dumb premise. We'd probably be passing laws requiring people to get Amped....
In summary, good writing, average characters (for the most part), dumb, and I mean DUMB, central premise that, for me, pretty much ruined the whole thing.