Written by Lawrence Pauly, staff member

“In this world, there are only two outcomes: victory or madness”: This tagline is the core concept of the book series “BZRK” by Michael Grant. If that sounds crazy and doesn’t make any sense to you, that kind of sums up the entire book. It’s crazy and jumps from storyline to storyline, not really explaining anything until about four chapters after the book left off. At the end, though, everything comes together, and you begin to understand everything.

The characters in this book are amazingly written, if a little cliche. There are two opposing factions: BZRK and the Armstrong twins. The book is told from the perspective of BZRK, a large faction in charge of trying to keep peace and order all over the world. The division that the story focuses on is the New York division of BZRK, with about eight members, two of them recently recruited.

One member is Noah, also known as Keats, who is the brother of an Ex-BZRK member who went insane. Then there’s Sadie, also known as Plath, is the daughter of a billionaire philanthropist who secretly funded BZRK, which Sadie joined after the murder of her father and brother. Vincent, Nijinsky, Ophelia and Caligula are some of the other members. They all stop using their given names and choose to name themselves after an artist or writer that has gone insane because they could go insane at any time.

Each member has two microscopic robots, called biots, that are made of their own DNA and some robotics. Their biots are linked to their minds, and they can control them completely, kind of like a second screen in their eyesight that they can see through and then control. If these biots die, it kills a part of their brains and drives them insane, and they can’t recover from it. This type of risk puts an extra twist to the story, making it more interesting.

The book has detailed description of the world at a microscopic level and a lot of tension, because in any fight “down in the micro,” the loser could end up never being the same. It keeps the tension up with every chapter, with both “victory and madness.”

I give “BZRK” a 5 out of 5 cardinal heads.