Not a Fan (book 1)
I have two major problems with book one. Problem one is best demonstrated with a story. At some point I was trying to sort out the BZRK members in my head. The anhedonic one, the nice one, the lol-so-random one, and the two nondescript ones. I had trouble remembering which one of those last two did what. Then one of them died. I was relieved, since now I could break them down into "the nondescript one" and "the dead one". The thing is, I don't really care about most of the team any more than I did the one who died, even after the nondescript one gained slightly more personality. The only standout character to me was Vincent, but we spend more of our time with problem number two. Keats and Plath's romance is the most boring thing I've read from post-Animorphs Applegrant. Which is strange, since they've written perfectly fine romance before. Rachel and Tobias from Animorphs needed each other to stay human in very different ways. Sam and Astrid from Gone kept each other in check. Even Christopher and Etain's relationship from Everworld developed one of their characters and gave weight to the actions of the other. Keats and Plath? They share scenes constantly, and neither one of them is better for it. All they do is sit around talking about the war and their relationship. It goes nowhere, and it makes the two of them (neither of whom are particularly well-developed yet) feel even more homogeneous. Keats and Plath do have some key differences that could be developed so that they're different enough that a relationship between them could be interesting, but that's not this book. It pains me to say all this, because I really love the good stuff. The AFGC has a lot more noteworthy characters than BZRK, and it's internal politics are much more interesting. And this being a Michael Grant book, we do spend a lot of time with the "villains". The action scenes are great. The interplay between the nano and macro is amazing to read about. I just wish that so much of the book wasn't such a painful Romantic Plot Tumor, and that more of BZRK was more well-developed.
Disappointing, but Not Necessarily Bad
(First book review only, of course. Also, this review is very abridged; you can find the full thing here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/467078099) Alright, so I love Michael Grant. I mean, I freaking love Michael Grant. Animorphs revolutionized by childhood, Gone revolutionized how I think of teen fiction, Remnants revolutionized how I look at Scholastic (and no, that's not necessarily a good thing). I think Grant is one of the best children's/teen authors there is, and I'll eat up everything he writes. That said? This was kind of mediocre. I mean, the nanobots were cool. And the plot was tense and exciting, once it got off its feet. But it was still lacking. Part of what makes Grant's books so good is that he combines his tense plots with honest, human characters. That was unfortunately lacking here. The characters were indeed human, but they weren't explored very thoroughly. Their development just seemed obligatory - we need to have a character that doesn't experience pleasure here, we need a flamboyant one here, we need two normal characters with a romance here... it didn't feel organic. No, Grant is too busy with something else to thoroughly develop his characters. He's expositioning about nanobots. (Is 'expositioning' a word? Fuck it, it is now.) There's just so much to say about them, and while it's cool, it got tiresome after a while. Nanobots are awesome, but not awesome enough to carry a novel. I needed more. I expected more from you, Grant. This is not necessarily a bad book. The plot takes longer than usual to kick off, but it's very well-written, and the nanobots were admittedly pretty amazing. But it's disappointing compared to what it could've been, compared to what Grant and his wife usually deliver. You'd be better reading Gone, Animorphs, Remnants, or even Eve and Adam.