BZRK by Michael Grant. 2012. 9781606843123. Gr 9-Adult.
Everything about this book screamed, “Pick me up! Read me!” From the blocky, embossed copper title letters to the tagline on the front cover, which states, “In this war there are only two outcomes: Victory or Madness.”
BZRK is the brainchild of Michael Grant, who is also the co-author of the Animorphs series with his wife, Katherine Applegate, as well as author of the popular young adult series Gone. BZRK centers around a secret organization of mostly teenaged, tech-savvy, gamer types. They are tasked with battling for the world’s freedom, which is threatened by BZRK’s evil counterpart, the less-than-insidiously named Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation (AFGC). The battle is fought primarily with nanotechnology, both biological and mechanical. AFCG’s leaders are two of the most creative and terrifying villains I have come across. They are conjoined twins bent on altering human minds towards their endgame of peace and harmony, at the expense of personal freedom and identity. This wicked pair works together to make for one great villain, as they inspire just the right amount of sympathy and revulsion in the reader.
AFCG plans on infesting world leaders’ minds with nanobots, controlled by “twitchers”, who are those adept at video games, and consequently, good at guiding these bots through the landscape of the human body. The nanobots eventually reach the brain and can “rewire” them to be under AFCG’s control.
All of this results in battles between BZRK and AFCG, with settings ranging from the streets of New York City to the surface of the human eye (sidenote: when nanobots are being controlled by humans on the eyeball’s surface, it is humorously referred to by BRZK members as “eye-skating”). Grant conjures wonderful imagery of the micro-world, describing what pores, cells, and even fleas look like from a nanobot’s perspective. Keeping up with the large cast of characters, the battles in the macro-world and micro-world, and the fast pace of the story is dizzying, but in a good way.
The word that kept coming to mind while reading BZRK was “cinematic”. The themes of good versus evil, espionage, and bioterrorism seem tailor-made for Hollywood. I could almost see the movie trailer and hear the sonorous voiceover as I pictured the stunning Hollywood special effects. And, sure enough, upon doing further research, I saw that BZRK has been optioned to be made into a big budget Hollywood movie. The book has a companion website, complete with hi-definition book trailer, forums, blog, and a sharp-looking digital comic book series, among other things. With BZRK the first book in a planned trilogy, it is poised to make a Hunger Games-like run.
Guestblogger: Ryan H.