November 13, 2015

Book 54: Zeroes

Chuck Wendig

I approached this book really wanting to like it from the description, which promised a fun near-future adventure with a misfit band of characters. By and large, Wendig's novel delivers exactly that, with standard technology-driven science fiction tropes blending seamlessly with the fast-paced plotting of a thriller and a touch of horror here and there. The technical elements are handled well for a non-specialist audience (of which I am most definitely a part) and the action is relatively easy to follow without an extensive computer background; the plot alone is twisty enough to keep most readers hooked regardless. The more graphic elements of the story come somewhat by surprise and stand out, and though they work in the context of the story readers may want to be aware going in that they do pop up. More conventionally, Wendig plays to his strengths with his core group of characters, who are a nice mix of quirks and identities. I suspect that much of his audience will see themselves within this group, mostly for the better. Though the book focuses more on its characters and plot twists, with its science fiction aspects acting more as a vehicle than a core, Wendig does explore some intriguing ideas about artificial intelligence and hacking as a pursuit with shifting and indefinite moral codes. The book's main stumble comes with its framing device, particularly at the end of the novel, where it comes seemingly out of nowhere and fails to connect the requisite dots. Even if it is the opening to a potential sequel, it makes little sense in the context of this book. Overall, however, Zeroes is a fun science fiction thriller that offers a different twist on some familiar tropes and a pleasant enough reading experience.

Grade: B+

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