Book Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Zeroes

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Series: Zeroes #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Don’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t. Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days. Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After 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 encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart 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. Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series. -Goodreads

The Review:

I’ve been eyeballing this book for a while. I’m a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and thought the premise (teens with special abilities – a concept that never seems to get old) sounded right up my alley. And I liked it!

Before diving in, I wondered if the name Zeros was a coincidence, or if they were trying to pay a cheeky nod to the show Heroes. I’m not sure which is the case, but there were many similarities between the two. The introduction of several gifted characters that slowly revealed their ties to one another was the biggest common thread, although the show did this more expansively.

The beginning was great – I found myself hooked immediately. Where Heroes was broader in its conflicts, I found Zeros more narrowly focused. Almost to the point where I wasn’t sure I cared, to be honest. All the troubles in the book were created by the characters’ actions (which felt inconsequential in the whole scheme of things). I actually thought most of the drama would come from other gifted teens on the “wrong” side of morality, which was very much not the case. In a way, it’s good that it wasn’t totally predictable, but at the same time, fixing screw ups isn’t quite as compelling as good vs. evil.

Even so, what kept me reading were the characters and how cool their powers were. I’m always drawn to the most mysterious character, so Anonymous – the Zero who people can’t remember, was my favorite. But they were all compelling in their own way. That said, I didn’t actually like all the characters. The first one introduced had an interesting power, but the more I learned about him, the more of an ass he turned out to be. There’s not really one main character in the book, but readers have a tendency to latch onto the first one introduced as an indication that their plot-line is going to be the most important. I don’t hold the entire book responsible for the dislike of one character, and actually liked the bit of antihero variety it added to the story, but at the same time if I could just punch him in the face I’d feel a lot better…

Overall, Zeroes was a decent 3 star (I liked it) book, but not the best I’ve read in the genre. That said, I’m definitely still picking up the second book and look forward to what the future holds for these interesting characters. There are so many directions the authors could take next, and I’m excited to jump on for the ride.

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by Niki Hawkes

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