Or why you should read Crux
by Ramez Naam,
Crux is a direct sequel to the novel Nexus (to read a *SPOILER* free review, go here). In Nexus, Kaden Lane, a neurobiology researcher who has developed a new version of Nexus, an illegal drug which gives users computer-like control over their brains and the ability to network minds, is apprehended by the American Government. In exchange for leniency he is sent to Thailand with an agent handler to help capture high priority targets of the American Government. Except in the chaos of the mission, Lane and Samantha Cataranes, his erstwhile handler, escape and, while on the run, release an improved Nexus 5 into the world. A choice that has the potential to change everything.
When Crux picks up the story, Nexus 5 is loose in the world and people are experimenting with the new drug to share experiences, create art, communicate with the autistic, and to potentially create a new and powerful way of solving the world's problems. However, some people are using Nexus 5 to do horrible things to other humans and worse, a backdoor to Nexus 5 exists which promises to allow near endless abuse. Kaden Lane, the sole possessor of the Nexus backdoor passcodes, is on the run from the US government and everyone else who wants the codes for themselves. Samantha Cataranes meanwhile tries to rebuild her life and find peaceful meaning caring for the special children born with Nexus in their brains. But as Nexus 5 spreads and the potential, abuse, and threat of it grows more powers seek to control it. In Crux, Lane and Cataranes must fight for their freedom and for the safety of Nexus.
Crux is a very different kind of novel than Nexus. While both novels are interesting and readable, I feel like Nexus was a roaring Thriller novel built around a kernel of savvy Science Fiction, while Crux feels more like a deliberate work of Speculative Fiction with some great action sequences. Crux really puts the focus of the story on the Nexus drug and exploring what can be done with it and how such an invention might change society. And it's this interesting meditation that is the thematic core of the novel. But, at the same time, Crux is far from stodgy with all of the sex, violence, and action it needs to keep the book racing along. Crux is very much an exciting book of considerable intellectual substance.
I would recommend this book to any Science Fiction fan or reader looking for a good Technothriller novel since I think it works very well in either category. I do feel like readers will be best served by reading Nexus first, since Crux is a direct sequel. But if you are a routine Sci-fi reader, you really owe it to yourself to try Nexus and Crux; novels this smart and exciting really deserve a wider audience and belong on your reading list.
Post by Michael Bround