Nexus by Ramez Naam

NexusNexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books, Dec. 2012-Reviewed by Peter)-What do you do when you’re involved in a game for your life and the only knowledge you have of the other players is from their enemies? Whom should you trust? This is the situation that Kaden (Kade) Lane finds himself in in Ramez Naam’s new book “Nexus”.

Kade is a graduate student who has been investigating the effects of an illegal drug which he thinks may lead to some promising future uses. Nexus allows direct mind to mind communication; Kade’s modification (Nexus 5) has allowed the drug’s effects to become permanently absorbed into the brain opening up the potential for humans to move in the direction of complete empathy and an end to future war. Others don’t see it that way and have the power to back up their view.

The United States has created the ERD (Emerging Risks Directorate) under the Department of Homeland Security to investigate and stop any research and development of drugs that can lead to transhumans (humans at a higher level of development.) They fear transhumans will enslave the normals and impose their will on mankind. The fear is so strong that the ERD has been granted wide powers to combat the threat, including the suspension of civil rights of anyone suspected of working with these illicit drugs.

Kade’s youthful idealism leads him head-on into the might of the ERD and he soon finds himself involved in a game where the future of his friends – and the world – may just be in his hands. Of course such high stakes games interest other powerful players, all claiming to have the world’s best interests at heart. Who can Kade trust? And what are the consequences if he chooses the wrong ally?

Ramez Naam’s debut novel reads like a high energy thriller and you’ll find his reluctant hero, Kade, worth rooting for. Naam perfectly captures the confusion of an individual that is suddenly a pawn in a game where death is frequently on the menu, and Naam deftly interwove cyberbunk elements without overwhelming the narrative. Nexus has enough action to please any thriller fan, but the violence is never gratuitous , and it was great fun uncovering the motivations of the principle characters Who would help Kade for Kade’s sake? Who only wanted the knowledge he possessed? Nexus is a strong, and exciting, debut from an author to watch!