My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nexus is the most in depth I’ve read about how to utilize nanotechnology in linking minds. As an author who is exploring this futuristic technology in my own stories, it was a tremendous discovery to find someone so learned in this area. While he has a non-fiction book on this topic—one which I definitely plan to read—I really enjoyed being able to get the bullet points of how this technology works in genre fiction. While there is a lot of scientific ground to cover for a layperson to understand what’s going on, I think he did a great job keeping it interesting without affecting the flow of the story.
Ramez begins the story with a young man who is a rising mind in this field of nanotechnology, and is at a party testing out a program that should help him with the ladies. This program tells him what to say and do so he can go from being a shy, “loser” for lack of a better term, to a suave, lady-killer. The outcome of this experiment creates sympathy for this character, but also sets the tone for a slightly sexual tale. He’s a young man, so it’s understandable, but some readers might not like this recurrent aspect of Ramez’s book.
Nexus could be labeled a cyber-thriller, as early on we learn that the main character is a wanted man by secret organizations likely to send spies after him and his friend for an advanced nanotech drug he and his friend created, called Nexus 5. His inner circle are rare in that they’ve taken a permanent dose, which means they are always able to read people’s thoughts and emotions, as well as operate the computer within their mind. This technology also gives them the ability to control others thoughts and actions, though his morals prevent him from doing so unless absolutely necessary.
This leads to the theme of the book. He wants Nexus 5 to be as readily available as the ability to read, but higher powers want to use it for wicked purposes like assassinations and clone armies. Can he share this with the world without letting it fall into the wrong hands? It wouldn’t be much of a book if it didn’t, so at the risk of a minor spoiler, Nexus 5 does fall into the wrong hands. He must then find a way to save his friends, not become a slave to those with Nexus 5, and somehow achieve a peaceful future in the midst of warring governments intent on stealing his program.
Overall, I’d say it’s a pretty solid story: 4 Stars
I love the world that he’s created, and the idea of hive minds connected through this program. My disappointment stems to this potential, as we only get a taste of what it would be like for minds to be connected this way. I suppose—or better, hope—that future novels will explore the potential for mass groups of people operating like hive-minds.
Ramez writes excellent action sequences, incorporating his technology well, and the lives at stake are more than just cardboard cutouts. No one in this story is “as meets the eye,” which was nice because of the character change displayed. There is a bit of Buddhist philosophy interwoven in some of the character arcs and overall theme, which turned me off a little, but it fit well with the main character’s discovery of what to do with his knowledge. I also thought the sexual content was a little too much for my preference.
Other Science Fiction Titles I’ve reviewed:
Germline by T.C. McCarthy
Exogene by T.C. McCarthy
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Haywire by Justin Macumber
Acts of the Apostles by John F.X. Sundman
Legendary Space Pilgrims by Grace Bridges
Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston