BOOK REVIEW: Upgrade, A Novel by Blake Crouch

Logan Ramsey is an agent for the Gene Protection Agency charged with bringing in black marketer, Henrik Soren, who is believed to have had dealings with an illegal gene lab in Denver. Logan and his partner need to find the lab and shut it down. Upgrade, A Novel is set sometime in the not too distant future where genetic manipulation is outlawed internationally. Logan is well versed in this subject as he is the son of renown geneticist, Mariam Ramsey, who unintentionally let loose on the world a mutation that caused the destruction of much of the world’s food supply. The Great Starvation followed, killing millions of people. Subsequent to that event, Mariam committed suicide and Logan was jailed for participating in the work that caused the famine. Now pardoned, he works for the government agency that attempts to shut down any illegal activity involving genetic or bio engineering. 

Once the lab in Denver is located, Logan and his team, attired in protective gear, enter the building. But nothing is found – nothing except a padlocked door. Breaking in, Logan enters a dark basement. An explosion follows, sending shards of ice into the air that penetrate Logan’s suit and, subsequently, his body. The ice melts inside of him, bringing with it what could be a genetic nightmare.

This novel started off great. Logan is beset by dangers – the government agency he works turns against him, wanting to study what is happening to him; the motive of the unknown person who engineered the attack which targeted him and him alone; and the riddle about what has been done to his genetic code. In the first third of the book, the pace was fast, a real page-turner. However, at a certain point the author gets bogged down in detailing genetic code and sequencing which left this reader cold. A little of this scientific jargon goes a long way, but I think Crouch overdid it, causing the plot to drag. I found myself skimming chapters, wanting to get back to the action and Logan’s plight. The novel has a satisfying ending, however, I did think some of what happens in the later stages was a bit too far-fetched. If you’re a techno-science junkie, you’ll probably love this book. I, however, was left with mixed feelings. Three stars.

I want to thank the publisher, Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of this novel.