Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Preorder it here:

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Synopsis:

“Mysterious, fascinating, and deeply moving—exploring the very nature of what it means to be human.”—ALEX MICHAELIDES, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient and The Maidens

“You don’t so much sympathize with the main character as live inside his skin.”—DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

“Walks the fine line between page-turning thriller and smart sci-fi. Another killer read from Blake.”—ANDY WEIR, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Project Hail Mary

The mind-blowing new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter and Recursion

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

Review:

It is easy to categorize Blake Crouch’s novels as sci-fi thrillers. At the heart of his new novel, Upgrade, the story is more action than science fiction, with Logan Ramsay, our narrator, working with the Gene Protection Agency to stop people from illegal gene modifications. The novel is set in a future where scientists and criminals might be the same person. His mother was one of these people, and it feels like Logan has chosen his job as penance for the mistakes his mother made. 

While on assignment with the GPA, he is injured, and shortly after, some strange things start to happen. He is getting smarter, stronger, faster, and has recollection of absolutely every piece of information he has ever received. This injury might not have been an accident at all. To quote an old adage, “With great power comes great responsibility,” so he is trying to keep doing the right things with his new powers, even when others are trying to use him for their own plans.

Blake Crouch’s novel does have some sections of heavy science elements, like when he is explaining DNA and what criminals are doing with it, but he is masterful with his pacing. There is not one time when the pages of information about what is going on at the science level get too long before he turns it off quickly with an action scene. While reading Upgrade, I knew that there was always some danger right around the corner, so if I needed to work through a couple of pages of information, the action would be right back. This kept me engaged in the story throughout the novel and made for a novel that is truly built like a page turner. 

I also like that even though the structure of the novel leans toward action and danger, there are moments of cinematic and environmental intrigue. Logan travels around the United States, but this is kind of a post-environmental disaster version of the US. There are times that he travels to the bigger cities, like Las Vegas and Manhattan, and his descriptions of them and the way people live now in this new future is enough to where I want more Blake Crouch novels set in this world, I like that there are not only sections that have become inhabitable but also people who have not given up on these areas. It is as if we still find a way to overcome the adversities of our environmental woes, regardless of how bad it gets. The environmental climate aspects are not a focal point of the story, but in the end it is the backbone to everyone’s motivation. This dark backdrop makes the actions of Logan, regardless of the outcome, feel pretty bleak. Blake Crouch does not shy away from the science of how the world is changing for the worse in this novel, but at the central core, the story is about humanities continued hope for a better future.

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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