Upgrade by Blake Crouch — a Sci-Fi review!

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Okay, so I had just read a couple more complicated books and I was looking for something that I could easily sink into and have a nice action packed adventurous story to clear out my brain. I have read stuff by Blake Crouch in the past and I decided to give Upgrade a go since Blake Crouch tends to write what I would describe as SciFi blockbusters in book form, kind of like Michael Crichton.

The book starts out with this character who has been through a LOT, but it’s basically all his and his mother’s fault. His mother is a once in a lifetime genius who just revolutionizes everything in their field ina way that ripples through society. One of those few scientists that becomes a household name. She and her company including her son, our MC, make a virus that I think they attach to a locust? If I remember correctly, the point being to wipe out a certain kind of infestation in the Chinese rice patties to alleviate starvation issues. Well, if you’ve ever heard of scientists introducing certain species to take care of other pest species you may guess where this is going. Catastrophe. The virus ran amock and jumped species and 200 million people starved to death. MC goes to jail. His mother is dead in car accident, and when he gets out he starts his life over. The book starts after he has already been out of jail, started a family, and has a job. His job is hunting down people illegally using his mother’s tech. The gene editing tech they made has wide reaching capabilities and none of them are things people should be messing with. There are just too many ways it can go wrong or be used for evil shit. So, it’s been amde illegal and he goes and hunts people down who are still using it. He has mixed feelings about it, having a lot of sympathy for people who just want to research it and use it for good, like getting rid of certain diseases that have horrible effects for the victims. Well, anyway, some people are still using super viruses in horrible ways and he gets exposed to one and everything changes. He becomes a super human able to remember every detail of his life as if he was watching it on a camera. He has unbelieveable computing power, he’s able to read people’s body language down to minute details, he can smell, hear, and see better. Like every single aspect of him has been enhanced, he’s a savant on nearly every level and he’s becoming basically like a super person.

So, this is illegal and his life goes to hell even though he didn’t do it on purpose. Okay, so I’ll leave the plot there.

So, my main issue with this whole book is actually the MC. He’s just… I understand why he feels the way he does. He truly is a super human. He truly does have a leg up on normal people in every single aspect. However, the lines he uses, the way he feels, the thoughts he has make him the poster boy for r/iamverysmart. My other issue is how smart people are sometimes written, and why I really dislike shows like the Big Bang Theory… so I do not have a PhD, I figured out in college I didn’t have it in me to do that and in THAT way I relate to the beginning personality of the MC. He’s bitter and a bit depressed that his brain doesn’t match his ambitions. I would have loved to have taken my academic career further than I did but it is what it is. However, I have been around a lot of very smart people, I love documentaries with people like Stephen Hawking, and even super geniuses don’t speak and behave the way is sometimes portrayed in movies and books. Just to pull an example, when a doctor sees a rash, they’re going to say ‘there’s a rash on the left shoulder’. I can’t remember a single time I got back doctor’s notes while in elder care that said “epidermis” instead of skin. This MC substitutes many common words for the ‘smarter’ sounding word and just says/does things that I can’t describe in any other way than the shit you will find on r/iamverysmart.

I really wanted to like this but ultimately didn’t. It’s my first strike out with Blake Crouch so I’ll still give more of his stuff a try. He’s usually a four star fun book for me, this just wasn’t to my taste.