Daniel H. Wilson specializes in stories in which the use of future technology upends society in some fashion. His intent is not only to tell an exciting story but to also spark discussions among fans about the potential dangers of technology. In Amped though, he fails to achieve his objective to generate a discussion about the ethics behind combining technology with medical care. All of the discussion points are there. However, he does not provide the one motivating factor to ignite such discussions; he fails to provide a character about whom readers truly care.
It is not that Owen is a bad character. He is just so thoroughly vanilla and so flat that he is easily forgettable and highly ignorable. His development from a teacher to a bad-ass amp that can save the world is too fast and mostly unexplained. His love story occurs even more quickly and with even less explanation. The explanations that readers receive about his device and the powers from that device are contradictory and unsatisfactory. There are too many unexplained or inadequately explained situations, characters, or powers, and all a reader can do is ignore any confusion and go along for the ride. A reader cannot become any further involved in the story because the details and the answers to do so are just not there.
As narrator, Robbie Daymond tries his best to improve the mediocre narrative with which he has to work. He applies an earnestness to the story that seems to be missing from the words themselves. Unfortunately, his voice is too young for Owen. He sounds so much younger than Owen actually is, and any scene which references Owen’s past experiences or actual age jar a reader out of the narrative. Given the right material, Mr. Daymond would make an excellent narrator. Unfortunately, Amped is not the right book to showcase his skills.
Amped is ultimately forgettable. The story itself might be fast-paced and intense while in the moment but loses its efficacy as time passes. Owen is sufficiently one-dimensional to keep readers at a distance, and the ethical dilemmas posed by the technology and legal quandaries never really become the heart of the story as intended. The story is too remote for readers to become vested in the outcome or to give more than a passing thought to the various lessons to learn from Owen’s situation. As an opportunity for opening up a discussion about technology and future potential uses, Amped is a failure. However, as a futuristic action novel that blurs into every other futuristic action novel, it satisfies that primal need for blood and fighting and good over evil. Just don’t expect to learn anything from it.