Zeroes is a co-authored book that starts what will probably be a trilogy. I didn’t pay attention and didn’t realize that the book had three authors until I finished it and there were three author bios at the end of my kindle edition, and looking back I can kind of see the seams. That being said, the book is so very much in Westerfeld’s wheelhouse; so much so that the book constantly reminded me of his earlier Midnighters series.
The book is about a group of six teenagers who have abilities like Flicker/Riley the blind girl who can ‘see’ by mentally projecting into the eyes of the people around her and the more people she has to feed this ability the farther away she can cast her gaze. Five of these kids had been working together in the year previous to this novel, however it was all brought down when Ethan (Scam) let loose his ability (a voice that knows exactly what to say to get Ethan what he wants) on his friends in anger. Fast forward a year and Ethan’s voice has gotten him involved in some ugly business and he can think of no one to call except his old friends, and so they come to his rescue and get caught up in that mess and then later embroiled in an even larger mess that involves drug dealers and the Russian mob. Essentially there are three plotlines that intertwine here, Ethan’s- the one that started the whole mess and is responsible for the main plot line, and then Riley and Chizara (who can essentially manipulate electronics) as they struggle with their own challenges and how the events of the novel impact their lives. It’s well done, and like I said it was hard to see the seams until you know to look for them.
The resolution of the plot does get a wee bit deus ex machina-y, as it relies on a character doing something at the exact perfect moment, something that she was honestly really unlikely to do but did anyway because PLOT. Despite that complaint the book is extremely fast paced, and I very much enjoyed it. The teenagers are believable teenagers who make TERRIBLE errors in judgment because they’re still very young-despite having super powers. I liked that the kids were decent at their powers but didn’t have an amazing handle on their abilities; they can use the powers but they also stumble through a lot of the why, how, and when.
As I said above, the book is very reminiscent of the Midnighters series that was one of Westerfeld’s earliest YA series. It’s been about ten years since I’ve read those books but there were characters and world building details that strongly reminded me of that series. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, partly because I liked the Midnighters. One of the things that is similar between the two series is the genuine tragedy that has happened to these kids because of their abilities and the angst they felt because of those tragedies.
My favorite thing about the novel though? It’s a complete story; there is no cliffhanger at the end of the book to make me NEED the second one right away. There isn’t even an unresolved plot line, and it’s glorious. I’m sure the next novel will build on the events of this one, but it won’t depend upon this novel to exist. Of course, without that cliffhanger will I come back for the second and even third novel? I don’t know. Maybe with a lean towards yes? I probably would have dived in right away if I’d had access to it that wasn’t a $10 kindle book. If it ever goes on sale, or I finally go to the library, I’ll pick it up.
As an adult, I liked this. As a teenager I would have LOVED this. In fact I know a teenager who would probably love this book. It’s a shame it’s not lendable in the kindle format (that ought to be made more widely available). If you like X-Men, or Whedon’s brand of found family, or sci-fi based YA then this is a solid choice.