Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Friendship
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Buy on Amazon
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.
It’s always a great experience when you go into a book with no expectations and it turns out you really enjoy it. That’s what happened to me with Zeroes . I hadn’t read a single review beforehand, hadn’t read anything by Scott Westerfeld (though I think I will remedy that now) and have never even heard of the other two authors.
The reason I picked up this book was the premise. I read the summary on Goodreads and was immediately intrigued. I read the tagline and I was even more convinced. If there was ever an ultimate tagline to get me hooked “Every Power Has A Price” comes pretty close to it.
But we all know the problem with great premises: they easily disappoint. The book sounds better than it actually is. Fortunately, Zeroes doesn’t fall into that category. If you read the summary and are intrigued, if you think it sounds exactly like something you’d love (the way I did), I suggest you pick it up because the story actually delivers on its promise.
The story follows six American teenagers who all have some kind of superpower. The powers are all different from one another and so are the kids that have them but for one common attribute: they were all born in the year 2000. These teens have formed a team and call themselves Zeroes (a sarcastic spin on the word “heroes”) and attempt missions to learn more about their powers. The novel begins with the group having split up after they had a falling out the summer before. I’ll let you discover the rest on your own.
The problem with superhero stories is that they get old. Kids with superpowers? That has been done countless times before. But Zeroes manages to take an old, worn-out concept and make it into something new, something that I feel like I’ve never read before. The characters in Zeroes are in no sense heroes, they don’t even come close. They’re just a bunch of kids that have been given something they don’t understand and have no idea how to use. This isn’t another coming-of-age story about teens learning to control their power to make the world better. Instead, the novel is very realistic and honest in its portrayal of teenage feelings, desires and morals. None of them are evil but that doesn’t mean they always do the right thing. Quite the opposite actually.
What I loved most about this novel is that the authors actually focused on the downsides of having powers instead of the benefits. Here the powers only seem to make the characters’ lives harder, getting them into trouble at every turn, causing fights. All of these powers are incredibly cool and very powerful, yet I realized I wouldn’t really want any of them because the price was just too high. For someone like me who loves magic systems with clear rules and limits this take on the concept was fantastic. I honestly thought authors had already used up all the superpowers there was to draw from but this book proved me wrong. Sure, we’ve all seen the power of persuasion, the power over electronics and the power of invisibility. But trust me, you haven’t seen it done like this. On top of that, the powers were also very consistent and logical which I really appreciated.
The novel features a large cast of characters and I found myself really caring about all of them. They were all flawed, had multiple layers to them and complex relationships with one another. I loved that this book had such a heavy emphasis on friendship; I often feel like romantic relationships seem to take over all others in YA. Though the characters weren’t all as fully fleshed out as I would have liked, I can completely understand this since it’s difficult to establish six different characters in one book while still maintaining an engaging plot.
I really enjoyed the other elements of the story as well. The novel was very fast-paced and well-written, action-packed as well as humorous. After finishing the book I went on Goodreads and was shocked to find that this novel was 560 pages long. It felt like a much shorter book and didn’t ever drag.
There were a few things that could have been better, but nothing that truly lessened my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes the plot felt a little over the top, a little too badass, too dramatic, so that I had some trouble suspending my disbelief. The main problem here is that for some readers this book will feel too juvenile. The insta-love between two certain characters was kind of unnecessary as well and should have been left out, but it took so little page-time that it really didn’t bother me all that much.
Overall, I thought this book was excellent. It isn’t my favourite superhero novel (that honour still goes to Vicious) but it is certainly up there. If the premise sounds like something you’d enjoy I highly recommend you pick this one up when it comes out on September 29th.
Also, dear bookgods, is there any way that this could be made into a TV show? That would make me very, very happy.