Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade is an above-average tech thriller set in at some unspecified point in the near future. The book follows the (mis)adventures of Julian Ramsey, a genetic researcher/federal agent currently working for a shady government agency tasked with hunting down scientists involved in illegal genetic experimentation. Ramsey is well-suited to the role having served time for his part in an attempt, by his mother, a renowned geneticist, to breed a locust that would spread a virus to crops, intending to make the crops resistant to blight. Unfortunately, the new crops couldn’t produce seeds, which led to a global famine that killed a hundred million people. (Ouch!)

Book cover: upgrade

While chasing down a research scientist, Ramsey is infected with a virus that enhances him physically as well as mentally. He finds that he can run marathons without breaking sweat, his reflexes allow him to anticipate and react at lightning speed, and he can read tomes of scientific material in a matter of hours. But now, he is an “illegal experiment” in his own right, so is forced to go in the run so he can track down those responsible for hacking his DNA, and stop them for ending the lives of billions more.

Well, that’s the plot, and it does work, helped along by the level of scientific detail sprinkled throughout the story, which in itself didn’t really offer any great surprises. The quality of the prose was adequate – hardly literary fiction, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. The book aimed to be a fast-paced thriller that clipped along at decent pace, without expending too much effort on character development or growth.

Now this is fine as far as it goes, but I think I would have preferred a few surprises along the way. Everything happened as you’d expect it to, which made me think that this probably end up being optioned by Netflix one day.

Anyway, Upgrade is a decent, easy read that is strangely difficult to put down.

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