Posted in Book Reviews

The Truth Serum – Augment – 01/03/17

*~*
By Government-enforced mandate, genetic augmentation and implant technology cannot coexist in the same human body. Sixteen-year-old Viki’s life has depended on her implants since she was five. Now her implants are failing. When Viki discovers that the malfunctions are due to illegal augmentation, she is determined to find those responsible. However, Agent Smith of the Search and Retrieval Bureau is also looking for the geneticists who augmented Viki, and his orders are to capture them by any means necessary—even if it requires risking Viki’s life by using her as bait. Viki’s friend Halle, a rogue AI, is doing its best to help her search, but Halle has its own problems. Agent Smith had been closing in on the AI before being reassigned to Viki’s case, and Smith’s partner is still on the hunt. Searching for the geneticist’s risks exposing Halle, but Viki and her friend must find them first—they are her only chance for survival.
*~*

 

This is the Truth Serum #1, and with these posts, I will discuss my personal experience with the novels I choose to read. Usually, I stick to YA books with genres related to Science Fiction and Fantasy. There are many sub-genres within these two genres, and unless I say specifically, I’ll read those as well.

  • I will NOT read Romance novels–sorry–they just aren’t my forte. But I will read books that have a love story in them.
  • I will NOT read Erotica. We’ll just leave it at that. I couldn’t imagine trying to talk about a book like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Later, I will post a thorough review policy on a separate page, but at this time–I’m not taking independent author requests.

So, without further ado…let’s talk about Augment.

THE TRUTH

Amazon asked me: Which of these words best describes the mood?

As I consider what I’d like to say in my review of Augment, this statement consistently jumps out at me. I’m given several choices of how I should feel, but I can only choose one.

How two-dimensional.

After reading Augment, I would say the mood reflects several things at once. Dark? Of course, it was. Often, Vicissitude Wandel had to rely on failing implants that governed her quality of life. At one point, she was facing eternity in a wheelchair and death.

Thoughtful? Definitely. The limits of technology (Artificial Intelligence specifically) are widely discussed in the present world, it seemed that the world of Augment frequented the ethical side of this topic considering that one of the main characters was a rogue AI named Halle.

Suspenseful? Yes indeed. Viki constantly took matters into her own hands as she dodged an overbearing government agency called SARB all while struggling with continuous, and sometimes inexplicable, implant failure.

Hopeful? Sure, there were nuggets of hope interspersed throughout the story, which gave me the knowledge (that I didn’t know I needed) that not all was lost. Yet, this hope was snatched away as soon as it came.

Lighthearted? At times, Halle and Viki would lose themselves in a computer game called Realmshards. I believed that this was a way for Viki and even Halle to escape the heavy circumstances of their lives. I also found Halle’s Cheshire Cat form that he often took in the digital world was his attempt at humor.

I found this believable because an AI might not understand humor as we see it and as they “learn” to be human, they would develop their own unique sense of how humor works.

As you can see, it’s difficult to categorize Augment with one word or mood as it presents multiple angles to a believable story in a world that sometimes seems far beyond our grasp. I feel that Heather Hayden utilized several elements in this YA Science Fiction that were necessary to create a realistic tale.

While this review is mostly filled with praise, it is not without its criticisms.

One element I would like to note is the point of the story where Viki learns her origin story by meeting with her biological parents.

Even if she considered her adoptive parents as her one and only family, I felt that a reunion like this should carry a lot of weight. It should cause a fundamental change in the character, especially if the reunion didn’t go as expected.

But as I read through the event, it seemed anticlimactic, and the biological parents were pushed aside and whisked away with little afterthought. In my opinion, the situation was rushed, and Heather missed an opportunity to deepen our understanding of Viki’s character.

Another criticism has to do with Halle, the Artificial Intelligence.

Heather spent a good portion of the story describing the limits on Halle’s (what I like to call) ‘digital power.’ We discovered all of the things Halle shouldn’t do and how dangerous it was for both of them if he decided to do them.

So, when the AI decides to display his abilities, it seems unlikely that he would be able to do all of the things he was able to do. It makes Halle seem invincible when in reality, nothing actually is.

The last criticism is also relevant to Halle, but more along the lines of how Viki interacted with him.

For one, the way she addressed him or talked about him was inconsistent. Halle would either be a ‘He’ when Viki conversed with him or an ‘It’ depending on the context. Sometimes, she would only refer to him as “her friend, ” and it was hard to follow. Was she thinking of him as more than a creation of science?

While I understand that Halle is an artificial construct created by humans, Viki seemed to treat him like a person who happened to be trapped in her computer. They would play a game together as a way to blow off steam. It was as if sometimes she believed him to be ‘real’ in the sense of the word, but at the end of the day he was still an AI. And while that is true, my initial understanding was that Viki believed Halle to be more than an AI from the start.

Augment was definitely a good read

I would recommend it to anyone looking for Science Fiction geared towards young adults that also isn’t hard to follow. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the story and would like to see it focus more on SARB, their real motives, and Halle’s origins at Genelift Labs.

 

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Author:

Aspiring Writer, Avid Gamer, Green-thumbed gardener.

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