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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Twisted Neuros by Z.J. Ryder follows Adnan, who is troubled by cognitive issues and fears brain chip hacking, implemented at his work. Office discussions that occur within the chips reveal mixed sentiments on the technology. NeuroXPT, an AI bot, aims to address concerns and enhance performance. The company's wellness program, it turns out, is causing memory problems and raising NeuroXPT impact worries. Internal chip chats reveal a mini-crisis with a discontented client, a NeuroXPT upgrade, mysterious messages, and security breaches. NeuroXPT alerts RuthX, the upgrade, about wellness program concerns, but they're dismissed, and the CEO supports the program. As events unfold, the true nature of a secret project triggers extreme measures from the top, and suspicions about the workplace intensify lower down the chain of command, bringing Adnan and his colleagues to a boiling point.
Z.J. Ryder uses a unique storytelling format in Twisted Neuros, and the result is a reader being able to view through the lens of a true omniscient, witnessing interactions from the CEO to the workers to the bots. All the emotional components are relayed by chat conversations, and many of those go off into philosophical discussions, as well as the corporate AI growing within itself and in its understanding of human traits, primarily emotion. While these are certainly interesting, the meat of the story is Adnan's brain chip and what the heck is going on with that wellness program. The mystery element to it is really well executed, and there are questions a reader has about who—and/or what—might be involved. I loved that there is “business as usual” work going on and that rumors and office chatter continue. Who doesn't like gossip straight to the brain? My favorite subplot is when Ryder reveals Adnan's backstory, adding to his fleshing-out of character. Twisted Neuros is a fun escape into a world that might end up being more science than fiction, and I have no doubt others who pick it up will feel the same. Very highly recommended.