Review | Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld

Interesting and entertaining enough, but lacking in action and character development. 3/5.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld book coverZeroes by Scott Westerfeld book cover

The blurb: Don’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.

Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you 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, a.k.a. 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. And 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.

My take:

This was fine. The characters were a diverse, interesting bunch and the events were entertaining enough. The writing and plotting were good.

So why didn’t Zeroes excite me? Perhaps it was the lack of action. We have a group of teenagers with some impressive (and refreshingly original) superpowers who then do little very interesting with them for most of the book. It was as if Zeroes was just set-up for a story we are yet to see. My edition was almost 550 pages long and the action didn’t kick in until page 450. Those last 100 pages were far and away the best part of the book; a well-executed, nail-biting race against time. I could have done with a bit more of this tension sprinkled throughout the previous 450 pages.

The characters, while interesting, aren’t particularly sympathetic. I think this is because I find the most interesting part of a superhero’s story to be when they get their powers and learn to cope with and use them for the first time. Unfortunately, this has all happened well before the story we are told in Zeroes. In fact, there is a lot of referencing of “last summer” when the characters first got together and shared their gifts. If we had been shown this summer, perhaps I would have developed affection or concern for the characters. As it was, it was as if I were coming into a series having failed to read a more interesting prequel first.

Overall: this is good, but I hope any future installments will contain more action and character development.

 Claire Huston / Art and Soul

13 thoughts on “Review | Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld

  1. Disappointed that you didn’t like it more, but you make salient points. The reason I rated it so highly was the last 100 pages. I think that just took the cake on the rest of the book for me. Do have to say, though, that I liked that a lot of it was self-doubt, introspection, trying to decide what to do, because it felt kind of different. Could definitely have been shorter though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen this one around quite a lot, and after reading your review I think I will put it on hold for a while longer. It’s not that I wouldn’t like this read, but I would probably have the same feelings (lack of action etc) afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: WWW Wednesday 16th December 2015 | Art and Soul

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