Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Date Read: 1/3/15 to 3/15/15
It's the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal has redefined American politics. Taxes are at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has brought a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business has many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom is diminishing…and many are desperate to take that freedom back.
Among them is a great dreamer, an immigrant who pulled himself from the depths of poverty to become one of the wealthiest and admired men in the world. That man is Andrew Ryan, and he believed that great men and women deserve better. And so he set out to create the impossible, a utopia free from government, censorship, and moral restrictions on science—where what you give is what you get. He created Rapture—the shining city below the sea.
But as we all know, this utopia suffered a great tragedy. This is the story of how it all came to be…and how it all ended.
For those that aren't familiar with the Bioshock series, Rapture is an underwater metropolis created by Andrew Ryan (Yes the similarity to Ayn Rand is intended). He created Rapture to be the ultimate Libertarian dream, where man is free to create whatever he is able to without the constraints of government, or laws, or religion, or anything that might inhibit a man's personal progress. So of course that went just as well as one would have imagined and by the time Bioshock starts, Rapture is a crumbling, lawless, dystopia.
One of my favorite things about the game was trying to uncover the story behind Rapture. Everywhere you wander in that game, no matter how frightening it is, has some sort of beauty and history hidden deep beneath it. And that's what makes this book so awesome because we get to see first hand how this city got so messed up in the first place.
While this book is a story about Rapture, it is more or less framed by Bill McDonagh. Bill was a simple plumber until Andrew Ryan took a liking to him and made him his right-hand hand in Rapture. Bill was enamored with the vision that Ryan presented--a place where a man can truly make himself into whatever he wishes--but soon found himself disillusioned and heartbroken as he saw the hell that Rapture descended into.
One thing that I did appreciate as a fan of the series is how this book kind of humanized Andrew Ryan for me. Throughout this book we see a man who has a vision and wants so hard to make it work. Even if it involves horrible things like not allowing a social safety net for the poorer citizens even when he sees first hand how dire their situation is. While it is crappy of him, he does it because he whole-heartedly believes in a man's ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even though its not as simple in reality as one might like to think. If anything, it painted him in a bit more sympathetic light, a man who was so blinded by his beliefs that he willingly ignored the hell they created in front of him
I will say that even as a big fan of this series, I found the book to be a bit long and uninterested in times. So I would put it down and read other books while reading this one. I still would recommend this book to you if you are a fan of the Bioshock series. If you aren't it's still a good a read, I'm just not sure if you would appreciate it or be satisfied with the ending.