Oh man was I excited to read this book. I love the Bioshock games (including the multi-player of Bioshock 2) & find the story very fascinating. I really enjoyed my tours through Rapture & had always wished for another Bioshock game that dealt with the civil war inside Rapture (as in before the first game). That looks quite unlikely but having read this book I think I’m ok with that now.
The book is set before the first game, so much before that Rapture isn’t actually built when the book begins. Instead it focuses on Andrew Ryan attempt to live his dream of building the city under the sea. The book jumps years at times so we see the construction of Rapture, the possibilities & problems that come with such a place, the introduction of plasmids, the little sisters/big daddy program & its downfall.
I loved reading about the construction of Rapture, it made it feel all so possible. I thought Bioshock 2 did an amazing job of showing me more of Andrew Ryan’s vision (the kids ride?) when he first built Rapture. I understood why he wanted it to exist & I liked the idea of a man obsessed with ‘freedom’. What I never saw though was the level of Andrew Ryan’s paranoia, its hard to have sympathy for a man who thinks 2 men having a gunfight is their ‘right’ as free men.
He is so hateful towards unions that I had to laugh, what with me being a pro-union man myself.
From the start of the introduction of people to Rapture the signs are written on the wall. The place is said to have next to no rules except that you may never leave. A rule that screamed disaster from the start, people are told they are free but not free to leave? Ryan asked people who were considered experts in their fields but never looked deeper into it, had he done so he might not have brought some of the more ‘dubious’ characters into the fray such as Dr. Lamb. Almost as soon as she first meets Ryan she is formulating a plan for a new kind of Rapture.
If he had been more careful he wouldn’t have brought Fontaine down to Rapture, I’m glad he did as Fontaine’s story is my favourite thing about the book. Frank Fontaine is a pivotal character in the first game. In the book we see him rising from being a good con-man to the head of Fontaine Fisheries before finding Fontaine Futuristics. He wants Rapture…..at any cost.
The book does an amazing job of conveying that a lack of basic rights (minimum wage, unions & strikes) creates a divide between rich & poor that only gets worse. Places like Paupers Drop in the game make so much more sense now! Locations, people, everything is Bioshock…..it makes for a thrilling read & if you’ve played the games you know what happens to Rapture which adds a sense of impending doom.
It’s not all brilliant though….
• Raptures build, even though its explained as best as the author can I still don’t quite believe it.
• Plasmid creation is kind of glossed over & I would have liked to see more experimentation.
• Some of the accent attempts when written down are really bad, Dick Van Dyke bad….
• More Big Daddies please.
Overall though it is a great read & one I really enjoyed. If you love the Bioshock world then you must read this, I think I’ve learnt a lot more about it.