BZRK by Michael Grant
On the back cover of Michael Grant’s novel BZRK there is a warning. “Warning! Contains scenes of cruelty and violence”. This book, with its black matt cover broken only by a close up of an eye and embossed copper caps, is not for the faint of heart.
Michael Grant has already shown us that he can do suspenseful, action packed stories with engaging characters in his incredibly popular Gone series. He appears to be a writer who loves to play with the ‘what if?’ concept. In Gone Grant asks what would happen if every human over the age of 15 disappeared one day. In BZRK it is the more likely and therefore in my mind scarier question of what might happen if nanotechnology was weaponised that dominates the book.
In this future vision of our world, some have the power to create personalised nanobots that can crawl inside the very skin (or “down in the meat” as Grant writes) of another human and attack the brain. The aim of the baddies in this book is widespread mind control, and only a small group of mostly teens have the power and technology to stop them.
The chase scenes inside the human body are quite frankly, thrilling. We are introduced to a strange but also sort of familiar world in which blood cells fly by like Frisbees, and hair is like tree trunks, all navigated by nano creatures of Grant’s not so far-fetched imagination.
The thing that really attracts me to Grant’s writing, however, is not just the action but the heart of the story. Grant creates real characters that relate to each other and themselves in a believable and engaging way. While the story covers many points of view, the protagonist, Sadie is especially appealing, with a tough as nails exterior coming to grips with a world she never really understood. It is in this way that Grant stands out from other writers who specialise in the ‘edge of your seat’ experience, engaging readers on an emotional level as well – which only adds to the urgency of the plot.
This book is just the first in the series, so don’t expect a neat ending. Enough is resolved, however, that you don’t feel cheated. And while you wait for the next in the series there is plenty to keep you occupied on the BZRK website - http://gobzrk.com. There are comics explaining the back story of different characters, a community ready and waiting to sign you up and even a free app so you can play at being your own nanobot type creature.
I recommend this book to anyone without a sensitive stomach. After all, that warning is there for a reason!