Title: Bioshock: Rapture
Author: John Shirley
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.
There are books that are so good that you tear through as fast as possible, and the next thing you know, you have finished reading it. Then, there are books like this one. One that you read a precious chapter at a time, knowing with a sinking heart that it will end someday, and to be honest, you aren’t ever quite ready for that.
I assume that it’s pretty rare for people to pick up this book without having played the game before, although I’ve read a few reviews from people who read this without any knowledge on the Bioshock series. I imagine it would be a good enough story to read without the context, but to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t recommend it. What made the book wonderful for me was that it was a prequel to a game I love dearly. I recognized the names, the places, and I could put voices to characters from the audio tapes in the game. It answered many questions that I still had at the end of the games and provided me with information that I didn’t even know I wanted before picking up the book.
The strength of this book lies in the characters. They are all so wonderfully flawed, each of them desperately seeking something that they can’t quite get a solid grasp onto. Their development is morbidly fascinating, from Andrew Ryan’s ideologies to Cohen and Steinman’s descents into madness, contrasting sharply with McDonagh’s innocence. The book adds onto the audio diaries they’ve left behind in the game, making me appreciate Bioshock 1 and 2 so much more.
I wish there was more, but alas. It was wonderful while it lasted.