The Boost by Stephen Baker

Synopsis: Ralf is a software prodigy. He works in the US government office that updates the software in the population’s boosts—networked supercomputers contained in a chip implanted within the brains of 99 percent of the world’s population. Invented by Chinese researchers in 2032, the boost is credited with leading humanity to its most significant cognitive leap since the discovery of fire.

Days before a national upgrade, Ralf notices that the update includes an open surveillance gate—meaning that Americans, who had negotiated high levels of privacy with the Chinese manufacturers, will now be subjected to the invasive Chinese standard. Ralf attempts to hack the boost, but is caught by agents working for Washington’s preeminent lobbyist. His boost is ripped from his head, and Ralf barely escapes with his life.

Pursued by the lobbyist’s mercenary cadre, Ralf flees to the US–Mexico border, where there are others like him—“wild” humans on the fringes of society, unenhanced by technology. It’s a frightening and backward world controlled by powerful drug lords. Ralf’s only hope is to somehow work with these wild bosses of the analog world—in hopes of winning back freedom in the digital one.

Review: I do not read a lot of sci-fi books, but as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that the story would please me. The idea of ​​a plot, and a world governed by boosts that each person would own to allow them to live in a virtual world, was very interested. I must say that this is a bit of a caricature of our society, as well as quite plausible possibility for our future.

In this context, we discover Ralf, a man working for the government, a network prodigy whose life will be turned upside down. Indeed, during a meeting with one of his friends, Suzy, he discovers a flaw in the next update of the boosts. After the American population fought for some semblance of privacy, everything seems now to be compromised without anyone knowing it. But Ralf is determined to understand what is happening, if we give him time to do so anyway. Oh yes, because as soon this new problem is discovered, Ralf is kidnapped and his boost is removed before he manages to escape. For a man who has always lived in this virtual world and who works on it, this change is radical. Unable to retrieve the memories he has stored in its chip, it’s impossible for him to do research on the internet or contact another person across the network. Yes Ralf will have to learn how to live, and with his friend Ellen, a young woman in conflict with herself, he will go to South America to find his brother Simon and manage a way to reinstate his boost. But while he has not seen his brother for years, he will realize that he is in fact at the heart of a story that is totally beyond him. Chased by some, helped by others, Ellen and Ralf will discover that their world hides many secrets and they could make a difference.

I loved this story and the world was fascinating to discover. Ralf is a smart guy but determined at all costs to get his boost back. He will also discover many secrets about his family that we did not expect. Indeed, he joined his brother, Simon, a man who has always struggled to accept this life and who lives now on the margins of society. But from there, Ralf will understand that something is going on and that the secret about Juarez where wild men who refused implant live, could be different from want it seems to be. Some lovely ideas are featured here and I was curious to see how it would all end up. I must say that we finally follow this small family in their plans and desires and everyone wants something different. I also enjoyed Ellen. This is a young woman who is ill at ease but despite a first naive impression she will be able to find her place in this new world.

So it was a good story and I’m curious to know if we’ll have a sequel or not. Everything was in any case very interesting.



40 thoughts on “The Boost by Stephen Baker

  1. Thanks for reading the book and the wonderful review. I especially enjoyed reading it in French, and will send the link to my French friends. Tabitha, I’d love it if it were turned into a movie. Or even a series. But for that to happen, I’ll have to get busy on the prequel.

  2. I don’t read that much sci-fi either, but it sounds great- and yeah, very today in our culture and not a too farfetched type of thing either. Sounds like some great main characters too, development wise! Glad you enjoyed it, especially since it’s one you wouldn’t really read. 🙂

  3. I really thought this book could use a bit more tension and some faster pacing, but otherwise yes I thought the book’s ideas and characters were intriguing. I think you rated this one even higher than me 😀

  4. Sci-fy books have never been my cup of tea, but I have to admit, that synopsis has me very curious, and now your review put it over the top.
    I think I’m adding this to my TBR, the stroy sound very interesting.
    Thank you 🙂

  5. I’m not a big Science Fiction reader either but I have enjoyed a few. It’s just not something my mind is ready to binge read, I guess. Nevertheless, I’m glad you ended up enjoying this one. The premise is interesting and in a way it does reflect our today’s world with being online and connected and how it’s actually affecting our privacy. Awesome review Melliane 🙂

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