The BZRK books are like reading a video game – totally exhilarating and leaves you breatheless with nervous energy. The first one had these epic nano battles which I enjoyed so much and the entire world that Grant constructed was amazing. In BZRK Reloaded, while I was a bit disappointed that those epic nano battles didn’t arrive until the last quarter of the book and even then they didn’t really match up to the previous book’s fast paced narrative, this book was more focused on constructing the plotline and laying groundwork for the various discrete events that happen towards the end of the book, which made the ending more explosive (ha!). The plotline is split into different narrative, all of which do not directly affect each other but make for such a great story as a whole. There is the New York cell which is recuperating from their losses of the previous book, Plath taking charge of her legacy, Burnofsky having nefarious ideas, the wired President’s secret, the Doll House ship of horrors which takes brain washing to a new extreme, the Bug Man finally showing some signs of conscience and the overall psychology of the characters.
The storyline was heavily focused on the characters as opposed to the earlier one that was plot-driven. Vincent’s story was heart-breaking, and I really felt for him and even Anya. Plath and Keats grow closer and Wilkes is always there to make some hilarious crude jokes at them. Lear is pulling the strings and Nijinsky is relying even more on his/her judgement. The characters aren’t perfect or moral – they are flawed and do what needs to be done. We get a peek into Charles’ and Benjamin’s childhoods and realize the reason for their Nexus Humanus plans – and boy, are they creepy. The whole Doll House thing gives me shivers. There is an introduction of other characters and agencies which affect the plot profoundly – the Swedish spy, the Anonymous hacker group and even the kidnapped girl from Okinawa. The whole BZRK team are resigned to their ulitmate fates of death or madness and this lesson is repeatedly dangled in this book. The love in the book is a very complicated thing and considering we are essentially dealing with brain-washing, it skews the whole matter. Are wired feelings real or because you have been changed, do you change? The underlying issue is the concept of humanity and how happiness drives us to do the things we do and how the characters try to shape the world to their needs. The ending was bittersweet – things barely worked out but so much went awry and so much was lost.
As a sequel, it may not have lived up fully to its predecesor but it sets a good base for the next installment – where I suppose we will we dealing with phase three of the Armstrongs and maybe (just maybe) find out who the heck is this Lear who is pulling the strings from the shadows. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review