The Last Breath
The Next - Book #1
by Charlie Magee
I'm not a huge cyberpunk fan, but this is a FANTASTIC story set much in the same vein as Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash written all the way back in the 1980s.
I just put the book down literally 5 minutes ago and started to write this. TL;DR? It's great. Read it.
The Last Breath by Charlie McGee takes place in a futuristic Vancouver, where technology reigns supreme. Imagine Google Glass, but 10000x more powerful -- and everyone has one. People have the capacity to clone themselves as "backups", ensuring that they'll never die. They have the power to change themselves -- even going so far as to slice off the tops of their skulls and replace them with plexiglass or sapphire, revealing their brains to the world. It's a fantastically creative take on the future.
But it's not all good. The plot revolves around the evil Decimals, the one percent of the one percent that dominated the world before the Great War, and their bid to create something called the Singularium. The Singularium is a powder made of nanobots, the kinds of nanobots that can live within your cells and provide you with veritable superpowers, like super fast thought and instant wireless communication with literally any electronic device. Think telepathy, but with your computer. Insane.
Unfortunately, the evil Decimals have built in a back door that would essentially turn anyone who breathes in this dust Singularium into their unwitting slaves.
Not to fear, though. Lia Bellamy, renowned scientist, has developed an open-source version without a back door, that will essentially restore equality to the people.
Then she dies.
I won't go much into the rest of the plot (all the above happens before and during the first chapter), but I'll say that this was an incredibly engaging story, and I can't wait to read the sequel.
If I had some critiques, they're technical in nature (no pun intended). I'm a programmer in my day job, but this book performs Hollywood programming. Remember The Matrix, where green glowy numbers define reality? Yeah, this is basically the same idea. The characters move code with their minds and manipulate reality at the speed of thought. It's a bit absurd.
The second critique is that I felt like there was a lot of window dressing. There were a lot of background bits that didn't necessarily move the plot forward. That said, this futuristic Vancouver was incredibly vivid, and I had no problem visualizing everything. So maybe it worked great.
But like The Matrix, The Last Breath is enthralling, as long as you don't think too deeply about the technical know-how.
If you enjoyed Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, you'll love this. Two thumbs up.