Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld
Synopsis: 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.
Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series.
My thoughts: First thing–did you know this book was written by three people? I didn’t either. Probably because Scott Westerfeld’s name is almost bigger than the title, and certainly bigger than the other two authors’ who worked on it. That just kinda bugged me. Yep, Scott Westerfeld is a good writer, and certainly an accomplished one, but…I don’t know. Seems tacky. Besides that, though, I really do love the cover.
Anyways, so…Zeroes. I struggled with this book, but it was a positive struggle, I think. And it wasn’t until I finished the book that I finally figured out what was going on with it. I’d never heard of it before I got it, but I was immediately excited at the idea. I mean, it sounds so good, right? And it was. It was just way different than what I was expecting.
I really loved the characters. I loved them on their own, I loved the way they interacted, and I loved their powers and how they affected them individually. Nate kinda bugged me, but only because I felt he was up to something and I really wanted to know what. Flicker was the highlight of the novel for me–I loved her–with Anon as the runner up. I liked how the story just jumped into the conflict between all of them and gave the reader the sense that a lot had happened before the book even started.
It had a great premise; it’s the plot that wasn’t my favorite. Zeroes starts out great with a bank robbery gone wrong, throwing a bunch of different groups together in one pot based off a misunderstanding. That was awesome. But it got a little less entertaining when the misunderstanding blew up into a dangerous disaster that only got worse as the Zeroes tried to dig themselves out of it. The weirdest thing about this book, though, was that it was still good. I struggled to get through it, but I still was thoroughly entertained and cared a whole lot. There was just a slight disconnect. Like it so so so so super close to being amazing, but just one little thing was off, and that kept it just at good. And that’s okay.
By the closing chapter something dawned on me: I’d been expecting a superhero book. An origin story. And while that’s certainly what it was, Zeroes is unconventional in nearly every way it could be, including the hero aspects. There is no alien invasion, no big boss bad guy, no mistreated maniac who’d been wronged by the world and wanted revenge by blowing it up. The Zeroes aren’t heroes; they don’t save the world. They just save their own skin when they get mixed up with local drug dealers, gangs, and bank robbers.
The lack of bravado that’s commonly paired with superheroes made Zeroes original. And it also made it so much more realistic. Let’s be honest, if six teenagers really found out they had superpowers, the reality is they would end up using them to get themselves out of trouble that they got themselves into in the first place. In reality, evil boss villains don’t rise up usually. Just a pack of kids saving their own day.
If I would’ve known that going into it, I think I would’ve appreciated Zeroes a lot more. It’s quirky that way. It stands on its own. And that’s ‘super’ cool. (Yep. I just did that).
Rated 3.87/5 for awesome superpowers, compelling characters, and an old idea made to feel new.