ARC Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

ARC Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti
Zeroes #1
by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti

Genres: Action, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication date: September 29th, 2015
by Simon Pulse

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love this book. I really really did, but unfortunately, Zeroes didn’t blow my mind the way I had wanted it to. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading the book, it’s just that I wanted so much from it. Scott Westerfeld is one of my favorite authors and superpowers are always incredibly fun to read about so I went in expecting to love this book. When it turned out this book wasn’t everything I had wanted it to be, I was sad and disappointed.

The characters are a diverse bunch, which was awesome but I don’t think they weren’t developed as well as they could have been. This is the kind of book where the multiple point of views didn’t work for me. The transitions were okay but I couldn’t get behind all the characters. I liked reading about some more than others but I also felt no strong connection to any particular character since the various POVs focused more on progressing the plot than they did on character development. What development there was related back to the superpowers. I just wanted to be able to experience them as individuals and really get to be inside the characters’ heads.

When a book features a group of superheroes, one would expect amazing group dynamics. Unfortunately, for most of the book this group did NOT work like a group. That’s partly because they hadn’t been a group for a year but even when they got back together, I didn’t get the sense of comradeship I had been expecting. There was no witty banter; there weren’t any really fun interactions. The group split up into smaller groups of people who worked together and reported back to Nate aka The Glorious Leader.

This book tells the story of six teenagers born in the year 2000 (WTF? When did kids in books get to be so much younger than me?); Nate, Thibault, Riley, Ethan, Kelsie and Chizara. They all possess various superpowers that make their lives both harder and easier. Nate is the leader of this group but being the sketchy character he is, we never know whether he is a ‘good’ guy or just manipulating the group. To be honest, he was my favorite character since he seemed to be the most complex. Then we have Riley who is blind but her superpower allows her to see through other people’s eyes. I feel like there wasn’t much more to her but that could also be because I never really felt anything for her. Ethan’s power comes in the form of the voice which is all knowing. Ethan was an interesting character because his power completely contrasted his personality. I really liked that contrast but I also wanted to get to know more about Ethan. Chizara has powers that allows her to crash technology and she was the one that underwent the most development over the course of the book (I’d say.) She has always had problems with her power but she finally learns to accept them over the course of the book. Thibault was the character I sympathized with the most. His powers make it so that no one really remembers him. He is invisible but not really. People just have a tendency to forget he is there. That’s nice in a lot of situations but when that results in his parents forgetting about him…. it’s not so much fun as it is sad. Kelsie is the latest addition to the group and her superpowers allowed her to amplify emotions in crowds (kind of?) I guess she was an okay character too but I also didn’t really care about her?

You might notice that I barely said anything of substance about the characters and that’s because I don’t really have anything to say. We don’t really find out the back stories of most of the main characters, we don’t see most of the them engage with people outside of the group, we don’t get to see them have any strong feelings towards things that don’t involve their powers, we don’t really get much of anything. At the moment, it just seems that their powers are what make these characters who they are.

There are two romances featured in the book and I didn’t like either *gasp*. Ethan has a case of insta-crush when he meets Kelsie. AND I DO SAY INSTA-CRUSH. They don’t even have a conversation before he is all like, I LIKE HER. Look, I’ve had crushes that have developed over the course of a day, so I get it, but I don’t tend to crush on random strangers I’ve never talked to before or seen.

The romance between Thibault and Riley didn’t work for me because it seemed random and we don’t get to see the entirety of their relationship because Riley doesn’t always remember her time with Thibault. That is sad but also kind of creepy since she has no real way of knowing what happened. She just has to trust this guy she can barely remember, that nothing weird went down.

Also, Riley and Nate clearly have an interesting history and I was sad that was just brushed under the rug and not explored at all!

The main conflict is centred around rescuing Kelsie’s dad who fucked up big time when he decided to get involved with the wrong crowd. It starts with a bank robbery gone horribly wrong and it ends… well that’s for you to find out. I enjoyed watching these kids (I am going to call them kids because they were born in 2000) run around and use their powers in interesting ways to save the day.

Overall, this book was enjoyable with an engaging plot but I found it lacking in several other areas. I am intrigued though and still want to know more about these characters (AND NATE) and see where things will go from here, so I shall await the sequel. Until then, all I can say is that I hope other people will have better luck with the book than I did!

Rating Report
Overall: 3
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    I saw this online a few days ago, I wanted to go and pick it up and have a good read over it but I already have 4 books waiting to be read haha! It sounds like my type of book – I’ll get back to you once i form an opinion on it :P
    Pauline recently posted…The Versatile Blogger AwardMy Profile

  2. says

    The last book I read by Westerfeld bored me to tears. I can’t even remember the title, that’s how impressed I was. Underdeveloped characters (diverse or not) and two romances that don’t work serve to convince me that I should just pass and not bother with this one at all. I’m glad it wasn’t all bad, though, and that you enjoyed the plot at least.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…LGBT Monday: Sloe RideMy Profile

  3. says

    I think that’s the problem with all these books about superpowers – the authors are so focused on developing their superpowers and how they function that they don’t really take much time to develop the actual characters. (If that makes sense). Definitely curious about this one, but I think my expectations have been downgraded a little. Nonetheless, thanks for the wonderful review Rashika! ♥ Sorry this was so mediocre. :|
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…The Kiss of DeceptionMy Profile

  4. says

    OMG I AM SO SAD. I just got an ARC of this in the mail today. XD I diiiidn’t realise it was going to be narrated by 6 people though. Omg. A little too many!?? I really hate it when characters are glossed over and the focus is ONLY on the plot. I need character development too. *pokes book warily* I’m absolutely definitely reading it still, but I shall adjust my expectations. x)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…I Am An Insomniac But Whatever. Here Is the Bedtime #BookTagMy Profile

  5. says

    It’s so weird, but books where there are more than two authors, never really work for me. What’s even more disappointing, is this was sooo freaking promising! I was eyeing the heck out this baby because I wanted to read it, I mean HELLO superheros, but I’ve been hearing MEH things about it, that really unmotivated me to pick it up, so I think I’ll pass. * sigh *
    Tika recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday — 10 Finished Series I Haven’t Finished!My Profile

  6. says

    Aw man, it’s such a same that characters didn’t feel fully fleshed out, that’s a major downer for me as well. Especially if they have various POVs, I like to get to know each character. Scott Westerfeld’s novels and I have a wishy-washy relationship anyway, I liked Uglies but really disliked Midnighters.
    Alise recently posted…ARC Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor HermanMy Profile