Review: Crux by Ramez Naam

By | September 9, 2013

Crux coverjpg
Crux 

Book 2 in the Nexus series

Author: Ramez Naam

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US/Canada), September 5, 2013 (UK)

Formats: Paperback and E-book

Blurb:

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.

In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.

The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.

GIANT FINE PRINT (yes, read this first): Crux is the sequel to Nexus. If you haven’t read Nexus, I highly recommend you do NOT read Crux. Why? Because this book picks up where Nexus left off, without stopping to explain what happened. It’s like getting on a one-way train made of nanites; it’s not going to circle around to explain how it got to your stop. It’s just going to keep going. And nothing around you is going to make a lick of sense. You wouldn’t want that, would you? I thought not. So if you haven’t read Nexus yet, stop right now and go read it. It’s a good book, so it’s not like it’s going to be a waste of time.

Also note: I will try VERY VERY HARD not to include spoilers.

What I Liked:

  • The characters. These guys are…well, they’re real. They’re flawed, they have layers, nothing is black and white. You know, they’re like real people.
  • This book goes at a pretty fast pace. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so fast pace is what I look for.
  • Once again, it’s got some thought-provoking scenarios that made me wonder how I would react if I were in that position. (If you’re wondering, my answers were always, “I have no freaking clue.”

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to read book 3 in the series. See above re: attention span. It goes hand in hand with my patience (or lack thereof).
  • If you haven’t read Nexus, the first book in the series, you’ll likely end up wondering what’s going on with that random Nexus 5 drug.

My Thoughts:

It’s not a secret that I am a HUGE fan of Ramez Naam’s books. I reviewed the first book in the series, Nexus, on my own blog last year. This year, I’m spreading the love and posting it on ICoS first. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll recall the squeeing that came out of my brain through my fingers after I finished reading Nexus.

I’ll try to tone down the squeeing. I do know that not everyone will like this book. For me, it’s got pretty much everything I look for in a SF novel: science, gun fights, thought-provoking scenarios, explosions, characters that aren’t cookie cutter cut outs, spies, etc etc. Personally, I loved this book. YMMV.

Crux picks up a few months after Nexus ends — and it assumes that the reader knows what happened in the first book. If you haven’t read Nexus yet, you should. Where Nexus was the instigating action, Crux deals with the consequences of the release of the Nexus 5 drug. (Recap: it’s a liquid you drink that basically turns your brain into a computer, complete with apps. Also, it lets you talk to people telepathically. Basically, it’s pretty cool.)

And the consequences are fascinating. As with any emerging technology — or drug, or new anything, come to think about it — there will be people who will use it for good or for bad. Those who would use it for good can do amazing things with it. On the other hand, those who would use it for bad can do terrible, terrible things with it. This is not a new concept. Ramez Naam takes this idea and runs with it, but adds layers — instead of looking at the possibilities in terms of black and white, he adds motivations. Why would those who would use the Nexus 5 technology for bad want to go down that road? Why would people manipulate the drug for their own purposes? For those who would use it for good, what are their motives? Do they really want to use it for good?

This book sets up a war between humans (boring old us, just the way we are) and posthumans (those who are augmented by the Nexus 5 technology). And this setting really had me thinking. The reaction of the humans seem, for the most part, knee-jerk and violent. They want to get rid of the posthumans. The posthumans have all sorts of advantages that humans don’t, and babies are now being born with Nexus 5 in their brains. They don’t even have to take it as a drug. If there’s a whole generation of people who are augmented from birth, where does that leave the regular people? Will they be wiped out (you know, survival of the fittest and all that)? The humans, it seems, are running scared. And that is their big motivation, why they do the things they do.

When I look at it through that lens, I can see why the humans reacted the way they did. Would I react the same way? I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because the humans did some…unpleasant…things.

The posthumans, of course, are starting to fight back. Because obviously. They’re being threatened, so why wouldn’t they fight for their own survival? Of course, they’ve got the advantage, being augmented and all that. I can see the the upcoming war will be a fight for survival. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.

Now obviously, it’s not all rumination and navel-gazing. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of explosions, gun fights, people dying, etc. The good stuff that’s usually in a thriller. It’s all here! My favorite characters are back (I’m looking at  you, Feng), which make me happy.

I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to find out what happens. As you read your way through Crux, you know that there’ll be a war. And it’ll be unpleasant. Unfortunately for me, book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. NEXT YEAR, you guys. In September. (Granted, I’m highly unlikely to forget about book 3, but still. Boo.)

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had the right combination of science, thought-provoking human condition scenarios, and spies/gun fights/explosions. What’s not to like?

Rating: ★★★★★

Crux on Amazon.com

Category: Fiction Reviews Reading Material Reviews While We Still Have time Tags: , , ,

About char

I'm Canadian, which according to movies and TV means I'm part of the group that's almost always wiped out during the apocalypse. I’ve watched too much Star Trek and Stargate over the years and spend too much time at my computer. Now, I'm waiting for the arrival of (and human enslavement by) the Borg or the Goa'uld. That is, if my computer doesn’t swallow me first. When I'm not at ICoS, you can find me on Twitter @ApocalypseMama or on my blog at apocalypsemama.com. Of course, you can always email me at Char(at)incaseofsurvival(dot)com.

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