Book Review: Zeroes

zeroes by scott westerfeld

3star

Title: Zeroes

Author: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

Series? Yes, 1 of 3

Rating: 3.5/5

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While I finished Zeroes in one day, meaning it was a fast paced and riveting read, I did have some issues with the book. The things I loved and the things I didn’t are split quite evenly in for this novel, so I have conveniently broken the review into two section for you all to peruse!

Zeroes-Pros

  • Unconventional Superhero Powers:  Forget about the old flying, invisibility and superhuman strength – the protagonists of Zeroes have wickedly original superpowers. There’s Ethan, with the omniscient ‘voice’ that can talk him out (and into!) all sorts of trouble. There’s Anon, who’s so forgettable his own mum couldn’t pick him out in a hospital – making him a formidable criminal. There’s Flicker, who’s a twist on the old Oracle: she’s blind but she can see through other people’s eyes. I love seeing these unique powers and how creatively the authors apply them to the plot line.

  • Zeroes Not Heroes: Book wise, I’ve been sucked into the superhero/villain craze lately (I’ve read Steelheart, Vicious and Zeroes within the last 2 months, I need recommendations). What I enjoy seeing the most is seeing how these superhuman deal with their abilities, after all, having power does not immediately mean you become a hero. Watching these teens figuring out how to use their power: not only in a technical but also in a moral sense, adds a compelling level of complexity in the book.
  • Great Pacing During the First Half:  The first half of the novel was quickly devoured because there was endless action. We hit the ground with Scam talking himself into a life-threatening situation and somehow trekking from bad to worse. I also enjoyed seeing the gradual buildup as the six different narrators were revealed.
  • Unique Collaborative Effort:  While I could tell that the different POV were written by different authors, I appreciated how cohesive the story felt. The writing voice were also similar enough to prevent the experience from becoming too jarring.
  • Anon:  I just really loved him and his sob story OK?! Don’t judge me. He also used his power in the EXACT same way I would have: to squat at the most luxurious suite in the best hotel of the city.

Zeroes-Cons

  • Lack Of Actual Plot:  I felt like the majority book was very character based and there was not enough content in the plot to propel the protagonists along. I understand that the first book serves as a set-up, so the authors were likely just establishing their team of misfit. However.how do characters progress in the absence of plot? THEY CAN’T. And here lies my biggest issue.
  • Confusing Beginning because we were plopped into the book unceremoniously: Why is Kelsie all alone? Why is Ethan alienated from the rest of the Zeroes? What were their interactions like prior to the beginning of the novel? I had so many questions that were never satisfactorily answered in this book. As they were questions that were posed very early on in this book, I was disappointed they were never resolved.
  • Underdeveloped Characters:  This is pretty much inevitable when a book has six POV, especially when it only sits at 450 pages. The weakest link for me was Crash, who has an awesome power, but whose storyline was dull as dishwater. She was also quite removed from the main action.  The other weak point is their Glorious Leader: Nate, I know nothing about this guy, I don’t even know what to say about him!

So have you guys read this book? What did you think? Rec me some superheroes book!

Sorry I’ve been so behind on blog commenting, real life ate me alive this week. I will be back in top form soon!

41 thoughts on “Book Review: Zeroes

    • I don’t mind a lot of POVs, I just mind if it’s not executed well. Six of Crows had five main POV and it was AMAZEBALLS. Omg that book has dominated my thoughts ever since I read it. Sounds a bit creepy but it’s amazinggg!

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    • My favourite Westerfeld book series remains Leviathan, I just have such a weakness for steampunk and crosssdressing. I hope you will like this one a bit more than I did.

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    • I just felt aside from the unique super powers, it didn’t have enough going on to set it apart from other YA action novels. However, I would still give this a go based on the interesting premise and if you enjoyed his previous work.

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      • Good to know. I’ll probably end up getting it because I love his other works but who knows when I’ll get a chance to read it. My TBR is out of control!

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  1. Westerfeld is one of my favourite authors so I definitely have to check this book out, and your review made it sound really good as well. I love the idea of some of the more unusual powers they have.
    Also a superhero book I read and quite enjoyed was the Dark Star series by Bethany Frenette. It had a little bit of a superhero element but also demons, I’d definitely recommend the series if you haven’t already read it 🙂

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  2. I’m excited to read this but I am also sort of worried. I have two more books to go on my shelf before Zero’s gets a turn. I loved Uglies and Afterworlds, I’m hoping that this can stand up compared to those. I’m a little bit uneasy about the lack of plot you described, I hate it when that happens – hopefully I can enjoy it : )

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  3. I can’t wait to start this now! I love that you separated out your review into two sections! I only read the first part and skipped over the second part so that I wouldn’t be influenced by your opinion haha.

    Dammit I love Anon already from your one line of description! And I love that his name is Anon – it seems to fit his character so well. I’m not sure about Flicker though… but I think that’s just because I’ve nicknamed my current PhD experiment Flicker and it’s causing me all sorts of pain. (I kid you not. I’ve run 6 different versions of the experiment and they’re called Flicker, Flicker2, FlickerOneColour, FlickerOneColourNoise, Flicker4Item, FlickerNew4Item). Hopefully Flicker, the character, will erase all of my negative feelings.

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    • This review was intended to be posted onto The Social Potato and then I realised Rashika had already posted a review *face palm* That’s why it’s different from my usual format haha. But writing a review in two sections are actually super easy so I need to do it more.

      Anon is his superhero name haha, his real name is a minor spoiler so I will keepit out. OMG what is your research on? Sounds vaguely eye related? Are you measuring CFF?

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      • Zeroes will now be my next read, after I finish Library of Souls. So excited to meet these characters.

        My research is on visual perception and attention. I’m looking at the bias towards paying attention to/looking at emotional information, and seeing if providing people with colour information will be able to help them overcome this bias. Originally, I wanted to present two pictures simultaneously in the same location by making them semi-transparent. But the colours kind of blended together and you couldn’t tell which colour belonged to which picture, so I had to alternate them quickly back and forth. So now they look like they’re flickering.

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  4. I’ll probably give this a go because I’m beginning to find superhero themed stuff highly interesting but I won’t go in with high expectations as I’ve read a Scott Westerfeld book before and DNFed one of his books >.< but hopefully I'll enjoy this one more! Lovely review!

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    • Hope you will enjoy this more than his previous book, it’s co-authored with two other authors so the writing is a bit different in parts from his other books.

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  5. I keep hearing about how this book has underdeveloped characters, which is sad since I was looking forward too this. But, honestly, Scott Westerfeld hasn’t really impressed me with any of his stuff. They’re three-star books at best. So I’m not all that surprised.

    Thanks for stopping by Writing on a Vintage Typewriter!

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    • Six POV is not always bad, I adored Six of Crows and it has eight in all (though only 5 main ones). I think it’s because there were so many underdeveloped mini storylines that didn’t gel cohesively here.

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  6. As usual my friend, your reviews are lovely! Zeroes definitely sounds like a unique and solid first novel to a series! I cannot wait to get to this one. I wish I had some superhero recs for you but sadly I do not!

    xoxo 💋

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    • Haha that’s OK, I have read enough superhero books and consumed enough TV/movies anyway so I get my fill. Thanks Josie ❤

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  7. Hmm underdeveloped characters and a lack of plot certainly don’t appeal to me. The concept is undoubtedly very interesting, but I need my characters, especially, to be well-fleshed out to feel a connection to them. I do need to read a book by this author though since I have never read one!
    Fantastic review as always, Aentee!

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    • I’m really character centric as a reader, too, so I admittedly struggled with this book despite the decent premise. I was a bit bummed as well! If you’re looking to read a Westerfeld book, I do highly recommend Leviathan!

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  8. I definitely think it’s possible to fully develop six characters in one novel (see “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo), but definitely not easy. I’m not seeing great things about this book, though, which is pretty unfortunate given the authors who worked on it. Thank you for the review!

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    • I agree! Six of Crows is incredible I am reading it right now 😀 yeah it’s a bit of a disappointment given that I enjoyed my last Westerfeld series.

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  9. I love the fact that the superpowers are so freaking unique, which is why I’ll probably end up reading this even though there’s 6 POVs and no plot. This does take place in modern times though right? I don’t know but the cover just makes me think it’s a dystopian or something.

    Anyways, awesome review Aentee! Are you thinking of reading the second book? (I would totally also used my powers to stay in a luxurious hotel muhahah)

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    • Yes it’s a modern time, where people don’t know about super powers AFAIK. I don’t know how these kids even found each other, their origin is kind of unexplored. I hope you’ll end up liking this more than I did. I’ll read the second one if I manage to score a review copy, otherwise I would skip it haha. AND YES. I WANT TO STAY IN HOTELS FOR FREE SIGH.

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  10. This is pretty much all of my thoughts too. XD I LOVED ANON OMG THE PRESSURE LITTLE DARLING. He was the everything for me in this book. The rest I was pretty meh about. It felt weirdly like a sequel?!? And I wanted to know all the stuff that went down last summer because THAT SOUNDED INTERESTING.

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  11. I would read the sequel just for Anon and his adorableness, I was OK with his love story but I thought it made him a bit more boring and predictable. I just love him tbh. AND YES How did these kids even find each other? How did they control their powers all through their life? I WANT TO KNOW THINGS.

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    • Thanks for the rec! If you like heroes and villains I recommend Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson and Vicious by Victoria Schwab!

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