Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah BiancottiZeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Series: Zeroes #1
Published by Simon Pulse on September 29th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 546

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.

3.5 Stars

It’s always a great experience when you go into a book with no expectations and it turns out you really enjoy it. That’s what happened to me with Zeroes . I hadn’t read a single review beforehand, hadn’t read anything by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan or Deborah Biancotti.

The reason I picked up this book was the premise. I read the summary on Goodreads and was immediately intrigued. I read the tagline and I was even more convinced. If there was ever an ultimate tagline to get me hooked “Every Power Has A Price” comes pretty close to it.

But we all know the problem with great premises: they easily disappoint. The book sounds better than it actually is. Fortunately, Zeroes doesn’t fall into that category. If you read the summary and are intrigued, if you think it sounds exactly like something you’d love (the way I did), I suggest you pick it up because the story actually delivers on its promise.

The story follows six American teenagers who all have some kind of superpower. The powers are all different from one another and so are the kids that have them but for one common attribute: they were all born in the year 2000. These teens have formed a team and call themselves Zeroes (a sarcastic spin on the word “heroes”) and attempt missions to learn more about their powers. The novel begins with the group having split up after they had a falling out the summer before. I’ll let you discover the rest on your own.

The problem with superhero stories is that they get old. Kids with superpowers? That has been done countless times before. But Zeroes manages to take an old, worn-out concept and make it into something new, something that I feel like I’ve never read before. The characters in Zeroes are in no sense heroes, they don’t even come close. They’re just a bunch of kids that have been given something they don’t understand and have no idea how to use. This isn’t another coming-of-age story about teens learning to control their power to make the world better. Instead, the novel is very realistic and honest in its portrayal of teenage feelings, desires and morals. None of them are evil but that doesn’t mean they always do the right thing. Quite the opposite actually.

What I loved most about this novel is that the authors actually focused on the downsides of having powers instead of the benefits. Here the powers only seem to make the characters’ lives harder, getting them into trouble at every turn, causing fights. All of these powers are incredibly cool, yet I realized I wouldn’t really want any of them because the price was just too high. For someone like me who loves magic systems with clear rules and limits this take on the concept was fantastic. I honestly thought authors had already used up all the superpowers there was to draw from but this book proved me wrong. Sure, we’ve all seen the power of persuasion, the power over electronics and the power of invisibility. But trust me, you haven’t seen it done like this. On top of that, the powers were also very consistent and logical which I really appreciated.

The novel features a large cast of characters and I found myself really caring about all of them. They were all flawed, had multiple layers to them and complex relationships with one another. I loved that this book had such a heavy emphasis on friendship; I often feel like romantic relationships seem to take over all others in YA. Though the characters weren’t all as fully fleshed out as I would have liked, I can completely understand this since it’s difficult to establish six different characters in one book while still maintaining an engaging plot.

What I will say as a warning, is that Zeroes, though really fun and engaging, does read very young. I wouldn’t say it’s Middle Grade, but it does lie on the young side of Young Adult. Just be aware of that when you go into it.

However, on the whole, the novel was fast-paced and action-packed with lots of humorous moments. I was shocked when I saw on Goodreads that the novel is 560 pages long. It felt like a much shorter book and didn’t ever drag.

There were a few things that could have been better, but nothing that truly lessened my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes the plot felt a little over the top, a little too badass, too dramatic, so that I had some trouble suspending my disbelief. The insta-love between two certain characters was kind of unnecessary as well and should have been left out, but it took so little page-time that it really didn’t bother me all that much.

Overall, I thought this book was good. It isn’t my favourite superhero novel (that honour still goes to Vicious) but it is certainly up there. If the premise sounds like something you’d enjoy I highly recommend you pick this one up.

Also, dear bookgods, is there any way that this could be made into a TV show? That would make me very, very happy.

*thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book*