On The Cover: Ethan, aka “Scam,” has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn’t just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn’t consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts – like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him – his former group of friends, the self-named “zeros” who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam’s latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.
Published: Sept 2015!
Why I Chose It: I received an advanced copy of this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was super pumped when I heard about Westerfeld’s new work and that it involved superheroes!
The attention given to the superpowers is one of the best attributes of this book. While the powers represented in the book are not necessarily original or unique, I found that they were portrayed in an incredibly powerful way. The book very strongly shows the exhilaration and power that came from using these abilities and how much joy the teens get from using their powers. But the story also delved into the struggles these characters have in maintaining control over their powers, and their anxieties and fears of what they are capable of or what harm they may inadvertently cause. I felt it was a very human way to look at the powers, and I enjoyed the different layers of enjoyment and responsibility that comes from having a superpower.
While it’s not a thick book, Zeroes somehow allocates the space for every character to be complex, something that I absolutely loved. I am in awe that the book so concisely pays attention to each character, to give them complex problems and backgrounds that are unique in each character, and then develops that complexity throughout the novel. Even though there are six characters, every single person goes through a significant personal journey, and I enjoyed every bit of journey that I read. I think it’s important that a book like this focuses on the people and how they connect with one another, and that action takes a back seat. I immensely enjoyed the character development that occurs within this book.
There are some minor parts of the book that aren’t great. As with many young adult books, the action comes on fast and hard and stretches the believability to the maximum. Having a set of teenagers face the Russian mob on their own is just a bit far-fetched. In the end, however, I was very entertained by the story, and the climax of the story was thrilling, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable. In addition, the connections between these characters were strong enough to smooth out the weaker elements of the story. Overall, as a young adult book, this is a big win for me, and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for more collaborations between these authors.
Rating: 4 / 5
“And she was floating now, savoring the dregs of the night’s energy in the little group she’d gathered. It was like riding an echo, a ghost of the dancing that had swept her away for long hours before.” p 15
“All of Nate’s training exercises were coming back to her.They had taught her not to panic, to put off the satisfaction of bringing systems down. To endure the pain and wrap herself in barefaced confidence and calm as she walked in places where she wasn’t meant to be.” p 88
“For show, Chizara took out her old school ID and swiped it across the card reader. At the same time she reached through the magnetic sensor, in and in and farther in, in a microsecond’s flash, to the vigilant source waiting for a signal to read. With her mental fingertip she knocked it out, like flicking away a stick beneath a spinning plate. The fall, and the crash, sent a small, clean, hot, good feeling in through all of her tangling pains.” p 90