‘Upgrade’ by Blake Crouch

Upgrade is the latest sci-fi novel by Blake Crouch, who you may remember from the bestselling book Dark Matter (which is soon being adapted as an Apple TV+ series). This time around, instead of focusing on alternate realities and potential versions of oneself, he’s examining the ethics of genetic modification and the dangers of tampering with human evolution — told through the lens of a nail-biting near-future thriller story.

From the description:

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Imagine being part of an agency whose sole purpose is regulating and cracking down on a particular field of science, then finding yourself on the receiving end of that science. You can guess how quickly things become complicated for our protagonist, morally and otherwise.

By the end, you’ll probably have a whole new perspective on gene-editing technologies like CRISPR that already exist today. The ramifications of these scientific advances have only begun to be explored, and Upgrade is certainly an interesting take on the subject, in its page-turning way.

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