They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes.
These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground.
But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister.
Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him.
Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army?
After absolutely loving Zeroes, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about whether or not I would be picking up the next book in this thrilling series. I didn’t really know what to expect when I read Zeroes, and all I knew was that it was about teenagers with special powers and Scott Westerfeld was one of the three authors who wrote this book. As a massive fan of both books where teens have superpowers and Scott Westerfeld’s novels (particularly the Uglies series and Afterworlds), I suspected this might be a series I would fall in love with. And I was right.
When I was about to read Zeroes for the first time and I found out that there were chapters that revolved around each teenager with powers, I was a little sceptical as to how that would play out. As someone who usually gets immensely confused when it comes to reading from more than two points of view, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to keep up or that I would prefer some character chapters to others and thus wouldn’t like the majority of the book. While Swarm is written in the same way as Zeroes, at least I didn’t have to worry about these things this time around as I knew what to expect. Thankfully, this series does a really good job of giving its characters distinct and unique voices which makes it easy to recall which character you’re following throughout the chapter. While this series does label its chapters in terms of which character you’re following at that time, in some novels I find that I have to keep flicking back to see which character I’m reading about because their voices all sound so similar, but that was never an issue here.
The thing I loved most about this novel was getting to know these characters again and learning more about them. Each and every one of the six main characters have such strong personalities and while they’re all vastly different in terms of their backstories, their powers and their quirks, they’re united by their bravery and their strength in surviving the troubles they face. And these aren’t just any troubles — people are killed, their powers and their lives are threatened, and the lives of their friends and family are put at risk. Seeing them push themselves to the breaking point in order to learn more about their abilities and what they’re capable of was also something I really enjoyed reading about and found that translated to our ‘ordinary’ lives. Such a massive aspect of being a teenager (and being human, for that matter) is coming to terms with who you are and testing your own abilities in different areas and learning to accept yourself, and those are key concerns in this novel that I feel will resonate with all readers.
The relationships between the characters was also really great to explore and watch grow. While these six teenagers formed a tight friendship in the first novel because of how their powers brought them together, I felt like that was even more developed in this novel and these people were no longer just friends because of the way circumstance united them, but finally because they actually came to like one another. Of course there was tension between characters at some points and they weren’t one big happy family a lot of the time, but the way they were able to overcome their differences and risk their lives for the safety of the others was really beautiful to witness. I also felt the romantic aspects were really well done. Often in books where there are multiple main characters, I find it quite annoying to watch the author(s) try and pair them up neatly. Luckily there was none of that trite pairing going on here. The romance was well-developed and in no way insta-love, and the love between characters was as complex as it was satisfying to see my favourite people finally get together or have their relationships from the first novel developed.
Another brilliant aspect of this novel was the pacing. Like with Zeroes, I felt myself whisked away from the very first page: this novel was impossible to put down. I can’t even begin to imagine how this novel flowed so well even with three different authors contributing to it, but the writing style was consistent throughout and the pacing was really smooth. There was never a dull moment in the novel and I absolutely adored the bursts of complex and action-packed scenes which were peppered throughout. But my favourite part of Swarm would definitely have to be the ending. The way it left us was both heartbreaking and frustrating in the best possible way, making me equally excited to get my hands on the next book and reread this series in order to fall in love with the characters all over again.
Ultimately, Swarm is a fast-paced, action-packed novel about teenagers with superpowers that will draw you in from the very first page and refuse to let you go.The characters are complex and well-developed, the plot is tense and exciting, and the novel leaves you with the understanding that making mistakes is what makes us human and we should celebrate our differences instead of ostracising people for them. I can’t recommend this series enough.
Have you read the Zeroes series yet? Do you read many books that involve teenagers with ‘superpowers’? Have you read any other books by the authors of Swarm? Are you someone who’s good at following the lives of multiple characters, or do you prefer stories to be told from one point of view? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!