As Michael Grant’s widely read (and widely acclaimed) Gone series comes to a close, his new, older, grittier series is about to take off with the publication of the sequel to 2012’s BZRK, BZRK: Reloaded. Grant has a lot to live up to: reviews for the novel that kicked the nano-tech phenomena off (including mine) praised the originality and execution of the novel. This was a series to look out for.
And it still is. The initial novelty of the concept has worn off, but the thrill of it hasn’t. The notion of nano and bio-technological warfare is an intriguing and original one, and as we get stuck in the “meat” for a second time, things have changed and there are new generations of tech ready to take nanolevel warfare to a whole new level.
There is a definite sense that this is a middle book. Most notably is the lack of drive to a large, bombastic climax that brings all the characters together. Instead, we’re dealt several smaller climaxes throughout the novel that lay the foundations for what I hope will be a fantastic third book. Grant might have countered the lack of a real physical drive by including a more emotional one, perhaps between Keats and Plath, and whilst this does play a part to an extent, it’s not fleshed out as much as it could have – and perhaps should have – been.
As with BZRK, Reloaded has a superbly fast pace. This is achieved through Grant’s frequent and short bursts of narrative from a whole multitude of perspectives. It’s almost too much and I was left wondering if it could have been a little more intense if he’d slowed down for key scenes and really developed turning points a little more. As with the original, though, Grant’s confident prose is delicious with its occasional sarcastic authorial commentary.
Reloaded may suffer from a sense of middle-book syndrome, but don’t let that put you off; it’s still a solid sequel from an author who is at the top of his game and whose prose is with the best in contemporary YA writing. Reloaded is exciting and original – bring on BZRK3!