Zeroes is the first instalment in a thrilling and addictive new series by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti.
Ethan aka Scam has a voice inside him that will say whatever people want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Sometimes it can be handy, but sometimes it’s not, like when the voice starts blabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help him are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly his best friends these days.
When Nate, aka Bellwether, gets Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind of dangerous encounters. At the core of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases. The only way these six teenagers are going to make it out unscathed is if they all learn to work together.
I enjoyed Zeroes more than I could have ever imagined. As soon as I picked up this book, I knew it was going to be the type of thing that I would eat right up. Never mind that this book is about the thickness of your grandmother’s chocolate mud cake, I gobbled it right up in less than two days. This book was similar to a chocolate cake in many aspects, come to think of it. It was sweet, full of texture, and utterly addictive. I couldn’t have wished for any more in a novel.
To me, this book was like playing on your home turf. I read so many books in the urban fantasy genre and I love to write in that genre as well, that it felt like second nature to me. Teens with super powers mingled with the rest of society? Cool. No problems at all. I feel like this book could have felt cliched and unoriginal had someone else written it. But when you pick up a book and one of the authors happens to be Scott Westerfeld, you know you can’t go too wrong. There wasn’t a dull moment in this book, which was amazing to see. I was constantly on the edge of my seat.
The one thing that I loved most about this book was the fact that the authors didn’t try to portray these kids as superheroes. Sure, they had superpowers, but that doesn’t mean that everyone with powers is automatically a hero. These characters are just a bunch of kids that have been given a power that they don’t know how to use and how to properly control. This novel isn’t the cliched story of teenagers trying to save the world and ‘find themselves in the process’. Instead, this book was a realistic portrayal of teenager feelings, desires and morals. These teenagers, like all other teens, have problems and flaws and that’s what made them so relatable in Zeroes. I felt as though I could connect with all of them and their universal struggles.
I was also great to see how the authors actually focussed on the downsides of having powers, not just all the benefits. I saw how having these powers could make the characters’ lives harder and get them into trouble, even when they were trying to do the right thing. At first, I found myself thinking that I would like to have a power. But the more I read about them, the more I came to realise that having a power would come with immense costs and sometimes, the risks would definitely outweigh the benefits. I feel like a massive amount of work would have gone into the planning of this novel, because each power was consistent and felt logical, which was really appreciated.
At first, I thought the large number of main characters would confuse me. I’m the type of person that loses track of characters if I have to remember the names and traits of more than four people. In this novel, there was six. However, it wasn’t a problem for me in this book. It only took me two or three chapters to understand how this book was going to work, which was incredible. I think the thing that helped with that was naming each chapter after the codename of a specific character because I would remember the power, but not the name of the person. For example, I would remember a character who can control the feelings of large crowds but not necessarily their name, but by allocating the codename to the chapter – which is Mob – I would be able to ascertain which character I was predominantly reading about. That was a major strength of the novel.
With all of those characters, I was surprised that I could keep track of all of them, let alone get attached to all of them. There were a few characters that I thought I wouldn’t really feel anything for, but I was astonished to find that I was hoping for the best outcomes for all of them. All of the characters were flawed and had so many layers to them, so they were by no means simple people, but I found it easy to relate to all of them in one way or another. I honestly wouldn’t be able to choose my favourite character from this book because they all meant so much to me. I also loved that this book heavily emphasised the importance of friendship. It was a nice change to see that friendship seemed to be the more predominant form of relationships in the novel, rather than simply romance. I often find that a lot of YA novels focus solely on romance and often disregard the importance of friendships and relationships with family. Though we didn’t see a lot of the family relationships in this novel, the characters’ independence and reliance on their friends meant that they family didn’t play much of an active role.
Though there was one real case of insta-love in this book, I think I can overlook it. Normally, I’m opposed to all forms of insta-love and reject the idea that people can fall in love in five pages. However, this coupe was so sweet and had so many swoon-worthy moments that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. I was constantly hoping that they would get to be together, and the moments that they were could quite possibly be the most heartwarming parts of the novel. The other romances in this book felt real and complicated, which I loved. You know what else I loved? That there wasn’t a massive amount of time spend on romance. It felt like it was in the background of the novel, which was nice for a change. I just felt like the portions of this book was right, if you get what I mean. Bringing it back to the chocolate cake metaphor; it had the right balance of sugar (which would be the cutesy romantic moments), flour (the general plot) and baking powder (character growth). Basically, this is the best chocolate cake you have ever eaten.
I can’t even begin to describe to you how excited I am for the next book in this series to be released! This is definitely a great series to get in on. If this seems like the kind of book you’d be interested in, pick it up now! You can be one of those people that get to say – I liked this book before it was mega-popular. Just like me and Divergent. So I’d just have give Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Managuan and Deborah Biancotti a score of 10 out of 10! If you like the sound of this book, I definitely urge you to pick it up. Let’s talk! Have you heard of this book? Have you read any other books by Scott Westerfeld? Do you like urban fantasy and have you read anything similar to this one? What books did you like before they were popular? I’d love to know 😀
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!