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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Crux by Ramez Naam (Nexus #2)

Crux (Nexus, #2)Crux by Ramez Naam

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Blurb:  Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.

In the United States, the terrorists – or freedom fighters – of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies. In Washington DC, a government scientist, secretly addicted to Nexus, uncovers more than he wants to know about the forces behind the assassinations, and finds himself in a maze with no way out.
In Thailand, Samantha Cataranes has found peace and contentment with a group of children born with Nexus in their brains. But when forces threaten to tear her new family apart, Sam will stop at absolutely nothing to protect the ones she holds dear.

In Vietnam, Kade and Feng are on the run from bounty hunters seeking the price on Kade’s head, from the CIA, and from forces that want to use the back door Kade has built into Nexus 5. Kade knows he must stop the terrorists misusing Nexus before they ignite a global war between human and posthuman. But to do so, he’ll need to stay alive and ahead of his pursuers.
And in Shanghai, a posthuman child named Ling Shu will go to dangerous and explosive lengths to free her uploaded mother from the grip of Chinese authorities.

The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck. The world will never be the same.

Read for December book group. Book two in the Nexus Series.

Crux picks up right were Nexus leaves off. Our cast of characters has been scattered to the four winds: captured by the ERD, avoiding capture in China and Vietnam, entrenched in American politics, held captive in a tower in Saigon, and held captive in a sequestered computer system.
And, as with most middle books (Two Towers comes strongly to mind), this is a pure transition book. It's a matter of getting the characters in place for what's to come, the epic battle so to speak. And, as with transition books, we have the atrocities or moral high ground that drive everyone forward.

Crux does ask the moral questions; is something that can be used for so much good, worth the price of those who will use it for ill? If something like Nexus can help [autistic] children, monks, individuals become so much more, does the cost of people using it to control to rape, kill, maim and murder balance that goodness out? Who has the right to determine who is in the "right" and who is in the "wrong". Who gets to be judge, jury and executioner?

The book also touches on change and the fear of change. In many ways, this is a non-AI singularity event, an "uplifting" with out the help of an outside artificial intelligence, and, not surprisingly, much humanity doesn't accept that uplifting very well. With labels of 'post-human', monsters, purging, by those who fear this event, and transcendence by those who accept and embrace the new mind-state.

The book walks and interesting line between what is "right" and what is "wrong", what is moral, and what isn't. Through the plot, the author asks the question who defines that morality? Is the use of the Nexus okay to stop the use of Nexus? Where or when is it okay to use the Nexus to torture those who also have Nexus, forcing them to self purge the system? Who decides who's the 'good guy' and who's the 'bad guy'? Does anyone have that right?

Crux really is a battle of wills being fought by people who truly believe they are in the right, that they know best for everyone else. Hmm...not unlike many current events today.

My one (small) complaint with the book was the overall plot structure followed a similar format to book one. Establish characters, move characters around, heavy on the climatic guns blazing action scene at the end.

Otherwise, highly recommended. A solid follow-up to Nexus and a book that gives a person pause for thought.

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