Book Review: Nexus by Ramez Naam

Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of Nexus

Publication Date: December 18, 2012

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Besides being a pretty damn good book, Nexus also has the distinction of being the first cyberpunk-ish novel that I’ve genuinely enjoyed. There’s not as much as a barrier when it comes to diving right into the story, and there’s just something about the characters that kept my interest levels high from beginning to end.

Despite being a futuristic techno-thriller, certain aspects about it will feel just familiar enough to cause a teensy bit of discomfort when imagining a world like this could be right around the corner. When bio-engineering meets nano-technology meets the drug scene, we get Nexus, the new pleasure drug that allows users to integrate their consciousness, linking mind to mind. What could this mean for the future of our society?

The book’s protagonist Kade Lane believes he has the answers, aiming to improve Nexus along with a cadre of his idealistic friends. But while people like them may have humanity’s best interests in mind, others’ intentions are not so benevolent. There are those out to exploit Nexus, those who would use it as a weapon. As well, there are factions that wish to outlaw it, put an end to its use all together. When Kade gets caught making his own modifications to Nexus, he is pulled into an international web of conspiracy, intrigue and lies.

The action and thrills aside, I found the most compelling aspect of the book to be the various characters’ perceptions of this nano-drug as well as the outlook for its future. There is no doubt Nexus could do the world a lot of good, but so much evil could come of it as well. Kade is an interesting character; I think it’s a shrewd decision by Naam to write about such a bright young man who can also be so naive. At the same time, we inevitably come to the question of whether or not to throw out the baby with the bath water. Do we stamp out and reject the positive along with the negative? Do we say no to something wonderful like Nexus, a new technology that can improve billions of people’s lives, just because of the potential for abuse?

Anyway, the reason why I don’t read as much hard sci-fi is because I’m typically the kind of reader whose eyes glaze over at the sight of too much technobabble. But like I said, this is a very easy book to get into. Ramez Naam has a very impressive author’s bio, being a computer scientist with knowledge and experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, software development, and biotechnology. Clearly, he knows his stuff. However, not once did I feel out of my depth or overwhelmed by the science and tech in Nexus; the author makes everything clear and easy to understand, never allowing the heavy details to get in the way of his fast-paced action plot.

I really enjoyed Nexus; the story itself is great, but it’s the philosophy and moral questions behind it that makes it even better, catapulting this book into the realm of being something truly special. A worthwhile read.

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