Nexus by Ramez Naam

RNaam-NexusScience fiction is truly visionary in Ramez Naam’s Nexus. Throughout the journey of the characters, the technology and science of today is propelled forward to make a stunning reflection of what may come to pass. Naam brings to light the possibility of science advancements through Nexus. The story that unfolds is both stunning and inspiring.

Mankind gets an upgrade

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.

When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.

From the halls of academe to the halls of power, from the headquarters of an elite US agency in Washington DC to a secret lab beneath a top university in Shanghai, from the underground parties of San Francisco to the illegal biotech markets of Bangkok, from an international neuroscience conference to a remote monastery in the mountains of Thailand – Nexus is a thrill ride through a future on the brink of explosion.

Nexus is a captivating story which brings to light a possible  future. The title alone is synonymous with groundbreaking technology of the present. Without much thought, I found myself making instant parallels to current augmented reality games; games which have us role playing a world where one side believes in the power of humans and the other believes in augmentation through an outside source. (Yes, that sentence was an Ingress reference.) Nexus truly is a gamer’s companion because it inspires us to look at the current fiction which we simulate and bridges the gap to the future which our games may one day translate to. As a gamer, I related to Nexus on so many levels. I continued to ask myself where technology would go and what that meant for gamers and non-gamers alike.

The true core of Nexus is science and each character only serves to amplify this . The two main characters, Kade and Samantha, are a neuroscientist and a product of neuroscience, respectively. Their individual journeys are synergistic and surprisingly take on a role not often associated with science – that of empathy. Through the catalyst of Nexus, each takes on a new level of understanding with one another. Naam expertly shows how empathy truly can be scientific. One of the most fascinating aspects for me is how the two characters eventually see their circumstances switching to that of the other; the scientist finding himself the tool of science and his counterpart seeing the visionary aspect to science.  Interestingly, Naam brings to light a common occurrence of despising a partner while simultaneously becoming closer due to circumstance. Like any good suspense novel, this happens over the course of mutual danger. However, there is a truly unique twist to the truly foreign manner in which Kade and Samantha connect through Nexus.

While it’s a suspenseful novel, Nexus is not without faults. I enjoyed the frequency of action scenes, but they oftentimes felt a bit muddled. In his effort to show the possibilities of the mind, Naam occasionally focuses too much on what a character is thinking. For example, in many battle scenes, paragraphs were dedicated to Samantha thinking “aim, shoot” and the like. Each time this occurred, I was much more curious about the setting where each battle took place and the overall big picture of each–the cause and effect. However, I was able to appreciate Naam’s intention to capture each character’s inner dialogue when he elegantly relates Kade’s reluctance to kill a man for the first time.

Nexus engages the reader to think about scientific advancements and the ethical questions we all may face. With a backdrop that would be worthy of any spy novel, Nexus looks at human evolution in a way that is unique. Naam delivers  a book with battle between government and resistance, grey area against grey. Perhaps more importantly, Nexus reveals itself as a resistance call to arms. When the fiction ends, Naam unapologetically shows the most convincing call to arms there is- pure scientific fact. Nexus blurs the lines between fact and fiction, science and speculation. It expertly has the reader ask, ‘What if?’. This book is truly a book for the thinker, for the science enthusiast, for the resistance. Then again, that may be the reality of Ingress talking. However, ask yourself this, What if?

About Natassia 143 Articles
I am a performer by trade and have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My bookshelves are full of many genres but I have a love of fantasy, SciFi and steampunk which have only spurred my performing dreams to help one of these fabulous worlds come to life. I tend to read books with a lot of edge and grit; if it's got zombies, space battles or fantastical steam inventions, I'm in. When I'm not reading or off making my own adventures, I can be caught watching movies of every era, gaming, and being scandalously political like any good steampunk heroine.