Written by Michael Grant
BZRK: Apocalypse is the 3rd and final book in the BZRK series by Michael Grant. It is the continued story of an underground group – made up mostly of teenagers – called “BZRK,” who are using biological nanotechnology to fight against the (conjoined) Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, who are trying to take over the world using their mechanical nanotechnology.
So while I did read the first book in this series, I did not have access to the second book in the series before I read this third installment, so I am lacking a bit of context for a few of the references that were made in the book. Having said that, I didn’t feel like I was missing too much information in order to keep up with the events that were going on in this book (the story has kind of a choppy feel to it anyway so the lack of context fit into that effect). And given my feelings about the book itself, I would be unlikely to go back and read book two to fill in any gaps.
I’m going to get right out and say it – I had a really hard time with this book. There are several reasons for this. First of all, there was just way too much mature content in this book for a YA audience in my opinion. The frequent use of profanity and the constant violence was too much for me (I am admittedly a sensitive reader), and if this were a movie it would get a very hard “R” rating. There was also a good amount of casual sex and drug and alcohol use. It gave the entire novel such a gritty feeling that it came across as just depressing.
The book is a non-stop adrenaline ride and although I usually like that sort of thing – a fast-paced story to keep the action going – this one became overwhelming at times. The action was relentless and the intensity (particularly the violence) of it was so high that it actually started to get tedious. It created a desensitization for me because of the constant tension and violence to the point that I got kind of bored with it. I really had to muscle my way through it to get to the end.
The characters that Grant portrays are very unique and at times fairly intriguing, they all had multiple layers and depth. But I didn’t find very many of them particularly likable and the ones I did connect a bit better with didn’t appear through the end of the book. So I wasn’t able to enjoy the time with those characters long enough to balance out my distaste for the other characters.
I will admit that Grant is a skilled writer and that he has a very solid writing style. He also presents some very interesting futuristic technologies that I found very compelling. Unfortunately, I found that these appealing aspects were overshadowed by the negativity and grimness of the rest of it and it brought me into a very despondent mood by the end. I felt a lot of hopelessness throughout this book and that was difficult for me.
I have a hard time recommending this book for its intended audience because it is just so intense and violent. I know there are going to be guys out there who are going to enjoy the story for the very reasons that I disliked it. But I wish that Grant could have toned it down a little since it supposed to be for a YA audience. As long as a reader goes into reading this knowing what to expect, it is a solid piece of writing and I would not stop them from doing so. But still, I would consider this a hard read for most audiences.
Review by Rachelle Funk, Skyline High School Media Center
Rating: ★★½✩✩ (2.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 10-12
Written by Michael Grant
Release Date: October 14, 2014