Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Nexus (Nexus, #1) by Ramez Naam

Nexus (Nexus, #1) by Ramez Naam 
Kade has been experimenting with a new illegal drug called Nexus, it allows users to have direct brain to brain connections, experiencing each others thoughts and feelings. He has been developing it to have stronger connections and include computer programs to allow users to have instantly gain skills.
Sam is an ERD agent, where she is tasked with arresting users of illegal drugs such as Nexus, especially when they are trying to make it stronger.
Sam soon arrests Kade, and he is offered a deal, if he agrees to go undercover to bring in a more powerful Nexus developer then he and his friends will go free. Sam and Kade are forced to work together, but Nexus is much bigger than they both realize and the conspiracies go even deeper.

In full disclosure I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This book is only suitable for adults; there is a LOT of swearing in it. I don’t mind swearing in book, but to me it was a little excessive. There were also a couple of scenes of a sexual nature.

The story is tech heavy, I really enjoyed it, the technology was well developed and the author has a great understanding of what he is writing about. The author does an excellent job of explaining how it all works in a clear way without getting too bogged down in excessive details.

Having said that there were some times where the story dragged, either by over explaining something, by reiterating already discussed points, retelling a part of the story from a different point of view, or simply taking too long on a less interesting point in the story.

I was pleased to see that the chapters had titles, for some reason this is rare for adult books. There were also occasional “Briefing” chapters; these were used to give world building information, usually something relevant to the upcoming chapters. Normally this would be a clunky way to do this, but somehow it seemed to work for the technology orientated story.

There first few chapters had time stamps for when the story is happening, although after a few chapters this stopped. I really don’t mind if time stamps are included or not, but feel they should be consistent, either always having them or not including them at all.

One problem was that there weren’t any visual markings to differentiate between what a character was thinking, when they were having a general thought or memory, when they were having a telepathic conversation or when the author was describing what was happening. At times this made what was happening confusing, this could have been solved by having italics for thoughts and bold text for telepathic communication for example.

For most of the book there is no clear good side, this is both realistic and also increases the dramatic tension and excitement.

The characters were good without being exceptional. Sam’s past was particularly interesting. The main characters morals, thoughts and feelings were also interesting.

There was some Hollywood style action. The heroes did have a tendency to come out of situations relatively unscathed even when all around was in total chaos, they also would recover from injuries quickly or be saved just in the nick of time.
The bad guys also had Star Wars Stormtrooper shooting abilities, they would be deadly accurate against everybody, but as soon as they started shooting at the main characters they would either miss or only be able to slightly wound them.

I was a little annoyed of how the governments were portrayed in the book, they seemed to just act evil without any reason and carry out actions just for an exciting story rather than any logical reason
SPOILER The worst example was they planned an attack where they would have to ensure that they could not be traced back to the government, and if they were any civilians in the way or risk of detection they should immediately withdraw. This attack was carried out by a pair of American helicopters full of Navy Seals, so much for staying anonymous, then when one of the monks takes a photo of the attack instead of withdrawing they decide to begin attacking the monks “since it didn’t matter then” which makes no sense.

Overall this was a fairly good story with some interesting technology and ethical discussions, but was let down by a slightly slow pacing, and plot points that seemed illogical and were only there to make it “exciting”. The writing style was also confusing at times.

rating: ***1/2 Stars 

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