Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Well. I can see why the book is called Zeroes. This has some moments of brilliance but there are a lot of problematic parts too. The story starts out in a very compelling way and gets right into the action. We are quickly thrown from one outrageous event to another as things spiral out of control for Ethan after he uses his power to try to get a ride home one night, and becomes embroiled with the local mafia.
The first thing is that the characters are generally a bunch of immature, whiny, shallow, unlikable brats. Ok, they are young so I give them some leeway with that in the beginning. However, there is the expectation that they would have a bit of emotional growth by the end of the book but I just didn’t see that in the story and for me, that’s a problem.
There are six main characters in the story and the narration is broken up between all of them. There are three girls and three guys. My general impressions of them are as follows:
Ethan aka Scam – To me he is the most likeable character and the easiest to relate to. He lacks forethought, he doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions. He’s the only character who really tries to help anyone else without thinking about what he’s going to get out of it. He’s also the scapegoat of the other characters and they blame him for everything. He has by far has the coolest power of the group. A seemingly omnipotent voice that knows all sorts of things it should rightly have no way of knowing.
Chizara aka Crash – She’s self righteous and has a I’m-better-than-you attitude about everything. There’s a very snotty feeling about her, even when she’s “helping” she’s really just getting off on her own little power trips while looking down her nose at the other characters. I found the descriptions of how her power over high tech works to be exceptionally boring.
Riley aka Flicker – A blind girl with the power to see through other people’s eyes. She has a twin sister and is seeing a therapist for some vague reason. She’s sort of obsessively stalking Thibault, and I feel like getting close to him is the only reason she involves herself in the story.
Thibault aka Anonymous – He’s sort of pitiable. His power makes other people forget about him, even his own family. I don’t really understand why he’s hanging around the others. Loneliness, I guess? The romance between him and Riley feels super contrived as a plot device.
Nate aka Bellwether – The one who they call Glorious Leader… yeah. He’s an obnoxious little dictator with visions of grandeur. He has the power to compel people to follow him. A very rapey power if you ask me.
Kelsie aka Mob – Has the power to influence the emotions of large groups of people. Introduced as sort of the ultimate party girl.
Call it dangling plot threads or major plot holes; but the story feels largely unsatisfying. We are given no explanation whatsoever about how the Zeroes got their powers. Parts of the story are repeatedly referenced but never detailed. Romance themes are thrown in like an afterthought and add nothing to the story. I just don’t think it holds up too well on it’s own. Maybe it will be better as a set but for that we’ll have to wait awhile and see.
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