I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Zeroes by Deborah Biancotti, Margo Lanagan, Scott Westerfeld
Published by Allen & Unwin on September 23rd 2015
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Don't call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart.
Ethan aka Scam has a voice inside him that’ll say whatever people 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, aka 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. 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 instalment of a thrilling new series.
I was really excited when I got this book in the mail. X-men are awesome and one of my favourite set of comic book heroes and I really felt, when I read the synopsis, that this had an X-men type vibe. And it kind of is like X-men except without the benevolent leader, Charles Xavier. Instead you have self-serving and pragmatic Bellwether (Glorious Leader)- with the power to affect how a crowd sees him and responds to him.
And he’s not even bald!
You have Crash, who can fry electronics, Scam whose mystical voice can scam him out of almost any situation, Mob who can control a crowd’s mood and emotions, Flicker who can see through other people’s eyes and Anonymous who people seem to instantly forget about, after meeting him.
But I really got the name of the book, because they really aren’t superheroes or heroes of any sorts. They’re a bunch of confused, flawed, special kids. The world doesn’t know about their powers yet, their leader is only interested in manipulating them, they aren’t there to save the world but to save themselves and nobody knows how many more might be out there.
The writing was rather seamless throughout, to be expected from this cast of recognisable and award winning authors. It was very solid and serviceable. Not too much flourish or personality, but very readable and easily digested.
The problem I had while reading this book was how jumpy the perspectives are. With 6 POVs that come in very short, constant waves, it’s hard to get immersed. It was uncomfortable to read at first because Scam occupies most of the intro and he is, basically, an unlikable character that improves only infinitesimally over the span of the book. In fact, the only characters I really enjoyed reading were Flicker, Crash and Anonymous. But Flicker and Crash seemed to be the least developed and least morally reprehensible characters while Anon was definitely the most sympathetic as far as I felt for them. I probably could have read a whole book from Anon’s perspective. But the diversity of the cast should really be applauded and I feel that’s it’s strongest aspect.
With so many POVs and such an action-focused storyline, this means that deeper characterisation is hard to do and I only ever got a basic feeling about who each character is. Other than Crash and Scam and Anon, the character arcs were rather unformed with little learning or changing too much over the course of the novel. I hope this will change for book 2 because they are such an interesting, hodgepodge group of characters that I can totally see a lot of changes coming.
However, this truly was a fast paced, action-packed read which I think will go over well with all kinds of readers despite its size and length. Short chapters mean that it’s easily broken up for less confident readers and the themes won’t go over too many heads. Themes like responsibility and misuse of power and the dual nature of gifts also being curses. There’s also the uncomfortable nature of Bellwether’s leadership which was one aspect I really liked and that I feel will probably be tackled more in the next book, I hope. Because he is their leader – their deeply flawed, self-serving, emotionally manipulative leader and I felt that his characterisation was really well tackled.
Altogether, an enjoyable and fun book to read. I would definitely recommend to the 12-15 age range.