Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Science Fiction | Young Adult
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
"They take the names of madmen because madness is their fate. They descend into the tiny places, down where the mites leap and the lymphocytes ooze and the spark of human reason fires like lightning from sizzling neurons. Down in the meat. One by one they join the fight. In the macro, in the nano, in both at once, they fight for life, liberty and the inalienable right to be crazy. BZRK is their method. BZRK is their battle cry. BZRK is their doom."
Down in the meat. That's where the battles take place between the nanobot armies. The human body is the battlefield between the biological biots and the mechanical nanobots. To win is to take control of the mind of the human host. To lose....well the picture ain't pretty. What's at stake is more than just the target's mind. Your own mind is on the chopping block. If the tide turns and the knife hits you, your sanity is gone just like that.
BZRK or literally, Berserk is a covert group of teenage operatives who seek to oppose the nanobot army of the Armstrong Twins. They control biots, the biological equivalents of nanobots (which look kinda like undersized praying mantises half the size of your standard flea). Their very minds are connected to their biots which is why they tend to go insane when their biots are killed.
So who would want to volunteer for that army? In fact, from what I saw in the story nobody actually volunteers. If you're born with a certain psychic ability, BZRK will find and press gang you into service. Once you're linked to your own pair of biots it's too late to turn back because you're now one of them and the other side will try their best to kill you. Once you're in, there is no way out.
The novel BZRK is unique in the fact that neither side is completely on the black or white sides of morality. They both do whatever it takes to win, including enslaving the minds of innocents who just happen to be valuable to them. While one seeks to enslave the world in order to achieve a blissful utopia where everyone is mind-conditioned to be peaceful and productive, the other seeks to preserve humanity's free will to fuck up (literally).
While I love Michael Grant's Gone series, BZRK was a little underwhelming for me. Most of the action takes place in the Micro which I can't really relate to or fully imagine in my head. It's not something you'd usually think about. Likewise, the characters are superficial at best and the good ones tend to get killed pretty fast. There was this one guy that I got attached to in the beginning expecting him to take a prominent role in the story and then BOOM. He's gone. Grant definitely loves killing his characters. While that was awesome in Gone where there are close to a hundred people to play with and kill off, BZRK just doesn't have the characters to spare. The few that were in the book were barely enough to carry it to the ending.
Those two words sum the whole book up.