Monday, October 5, 2015
Review: Zeroes (Zeroes #1) by Scott Westerfield, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
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. ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC provided by the publisher (via BEA15) in exchange for an honest review
Review: The first book in a series can be slower paced or a little scattered as the author (or in this case authors) set the stage for their world building and characters before it’s all tied together. I understand that but this it felt more like a set up for the next book in the series. And at 560 pages, with 6 different pov’s I was bored.
The biggest problem I had with Zeroes is that the entire premise is based on something that happened before the events in this book and we only get brief flashbacks. I guess that was supposed to help tie the group of “Zeroes” together and show that they had an already established bond. But it made me feel like we missed the origin story – which let’s face it – is always more interesting – and left me disconnected from most of the characters.
I’ll back up a little to explain.
The Zeroes are a group of 6 teenagers, born in 2000, that all have some type of cool power. Crashing technology, getting people to bend to your will, a blind girl who can see through other people’s eyes, invisibility etc…They went on training missions together although what these training missions were is never explained.
Ethan’s power is a voice that takes over when he needs to get out of a jam or helps Ethan get his own way. It’s a brutally honest voice – unlike Ethan’s natural wavering, insecure rambling voice. The voice knows facts about people that freaks them out and gets Ethan into trouble as often as it saves him. He has no control over it once it starts.
So “last summer” Ethan’s voice let rip with what seems like major truth bombs to the other Zeroes, highlighting their deepest truths and insecurities. The fight fractured the group and they went their separate ways. I think. It isn’t really clear. Maybe just Ethan left and they still trained? I don’t know.
Like I said, “last summer” sounded like a way cooler story. I would have loved to read how they met or how they trained. What their relationships were before.
Ethan gets into major trouble because of his voice and the team reunites for this one time mission to save Ethan, which snowballs into also saving a girl and her father.
I will say that the powers were cool. When they interacted and worked as a team it was a fun book. Unfortunately that didn’t happen enough and 6 different pov’s kept me from caring too deeply about any of them or the outcome. And they don’t work as a team very often.
The big threat (for this book anyway) has nothing to do with being super heroes. It’s just a catalyst to bring them back together so it was kind of boring. I didn’t really care about saving someone I don’t even know.
The Zeroes spend most of the book whining about how Ethan hurt their feelings. Boo fricken hoo. His voice was honest and - as fellow teens struggling with your own powers – a little understanding and sympathy for Ethan would have been nice. Do you think he wants to blurt out these things and lose his friends? He’s not perfect by any means but they can all do damage with their powers.
The one other thing I just couldn't handle was Nate, the leader of their group. He felt so cartoonish to me. And everyone calls him Glorious Leader. I. Just. can’t. With that. It seemed so cheesy that I giggled every time I read it. I just couldn’t take him seriously. At all.
If you love super hero stories and are a more patient reader than I, give Zeroes a shot. The premise is interesting, the powers very cool and I think the next book will pull things together. But for me, it’s way too long to wade through to only have 3-4 chapters that grab my attention.