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Year Zero Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sum of this complex tale is more than its parts of medical thriller, archeological fiction, action/adventure and doomsday scenario, as Long (The Descent) thrills with an intricate puzzle. A Greek collector of religious relics searching for artifacts from Christ's crucifixion sends samples of a powder dated to Year Zero to three foreign labs, thereby unwittingly unleashing a plague organism that races through the world's populations. Young archeologist Nathan Lee survives a murderous attack by his crooked professor, David Ochs, but lands in a Tibetan jail as the plague spreads. When the guards open the prison, Nathan makes his way through abandoned territories to Siberia and across to Alaska just ahead of the plague, heading for his daughter and divorced wife in D.C. He finds them gone and is mistaken by his old employer, the Smithsonian, as the messenger expected to take Year Zero bones from a Golgotha dig to the now fortified Los Alamos labs, where scientists are cloning humans who were crucified in the same time as Christ in hopes of finding an antibody from those who had natural resistance. Parlaying the bones for a spot in the restricted compound, Nathan is put in charge of the Golgotha clones by genius young scientist Miranda Abbot. She and Nathan become lovers and the nemeses of a mad scientist, who, along with Ochs, does fiendish things to clones and plague victims while disrupting the researchers. Long mounts one nearly impossible escape scene after another and doesn't miss a step as he builds a no-win scenario, then pulls it out. The shifting terrain is vibrantly portrayed, the religious fallout is deftly handled and the characters engage completely as they face a gruesome end to civilization in this dashing, exciting thriller. (Apr.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his follow-up to The Descent, Long once again combines adventure, horror, religion, and philosophy in a tale that can be, at times, absorbing reading. Nathan Lee Swift is a young anthropologist who falls prey to Professor Ochs, a grave-robber in the worst sense of the word. Miranda Abbott is a scientific wunderkind who has managed to create a way to clone humans. When a virulent plague dating from 00 C.E. (the titular year zero) is released and sweeps across most of the world, leaving billions dead, it is up to Miranda, Nathan Lee, and her scientist colleagues to find a cure. In order to best do that, they make a desperate bid to find antibodies by cloning humans from the first century who may have survived the plague. Those who enjoyed The Descent will find Year Zero equally compelling, though the ending seems a bit rushed. Recommended for all suspense collections. Alicia Graybill, Fairbury P.L., NE
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; First Thus edition (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743406125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743406123
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,747,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. R. SOUTH on September 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't begin to fathom how or why this book didn't even crack the top ten bestseller lists, especially after a knockout editorial review posted on CNN.com simply headlined "Wow". And "Wow" is the only way to describe this novel. I have read a few lukewarm reader reviews on Amazon, and if someone doesn't "dig" "Year Zero", they must have discriminating tastes far beyond any author's ablity to please them.
I'm not going to write one detail about Jeff Long's eye-popping plot. That's for the reader to discover and be carried away by. Suffice it to say that it is, in my view, basically a sci-fi story, with a strong footing in religious history. There are some creepy seasonings of a Stephen King nature, although the closest King has ever come to the standard of YZ's excellence came and went a long time ago with "The Stand". And if you like Michael Crichton, you will be on the right track in running, not walking, to buy "Year Zero". However (and this is one of the book's pleasant surprises) I found Long's character development above and beyond Chrichton's.
Now here is one small warning: "Year Zero" is not a hard read, but it definitely requires more than a bit of attention. I started the first chapter in the midst of some everyday distractions, and I was utterly lost, and then began again when I was able and willing to concentrate. Once I found my focus and got into the swing of the first 4 or 5 pages, I was totally hooked and getting every word.
Hopefully, Jeff Long's next book will be just as good, and his publisher will give it the marketing push it deserves.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If Jeff Long's The Descent was Stephen King meets H.P. Lovecraft, Year Zero is Stephen King meets J.G. Ballard: Morally ambiguous characters weave devious plots amidst death and religious symbolism. But unlike in The Descent, Long loses control of his story in Year Zero.
The first half of the novel is dense and brilliant. Two men loot an ancient graveyard in Jerusalem. A man escapes from prison in Katmandu and flees across Asia as a deadly plague wreaks havoc. Brilliant scientists clone crucified criminals from ancient Judea, searching for a cure for the mysterious virus.
But Long has too many balls in the air; by the second half of the book, the plot spins out of control. One of the clones claims to be Jesus Christ. (Is he? We never find out.) The scientists do absurd, self-destructive things that ensure their deaths. (Why? It's never explained.) A million dying Americans threaten a scientific outpost - their one hope for a cure. (Why? Their motivations remain a mystery.)
Long is so busy striving for the epic, the mythical, the transcendent that he forgets to keep his characters believable, his plot coherent, his loose ends tied up. The world is destroyed, and we don't care. That's a shame, since many of the chapters in Year Zero are brilliant. But as a novel, it's a disappointment.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a vacation read, as it promised to be a fun, quick read. The premise behind the book is ingenious--an ancient plague is unleashed and scientists believe the clue to the cure lies in cloning people who were alive 2000 years ago during the time of the original plague.
A clever idea, but this book turned out to be much more than a simple disaster tale. Underlaying the simple plot is an appreciation for beauty and a sense of wonder that adds immensely to the depth and strength of the book. The images of a decimated world are strange and beautiful. And the descriptions of the high Himalayas are stunning. Even the depiction of the plague victims embues them with a strange dignity and beauty.
However, despite the interesting premise of the novel, I would say it spends less time on science than on the mysteries of human relationships and their power. If you look too closely at the science behind the novel, you may not care for this book. (Humans cloned from crucifixion fragments from Golgotha retain their memory!? Huh?) My advice is to suspend critical thought and enjoy the considerable pleasures of this book by accepting it for what it is--a heart-felt look at why we love and how we live with honor. I found this book entirely captivating, and several weeks after reading it I'm still pondering it.
I will be looking for other books by this author!
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Format: Hardcover
Here it is, the ultimate Survivor episode, a thinking person's adventure tale. The writing hooked me with the very first sentence, "The wound was their path", and what a path it becomes, full of twists and surprises and Nathan Lee's heart full of hope. I've never seen a book like this, with such wild premises that seem to have no connection, but which by the end are woven into a single thread. On the one hand Year Zero is a novel about the virus from hell, the big extinction event that we humans think can't happen to us. Then there's the cloning of human lab rats that has echoes of Frankenstein and Brave New World. Nathan Lee's escape through the Himalayas is almost a story in itself, but Long keeps on spinning his web, and somehow, amazingly ties it all together in the end. I started describing the story to a friend, then just stopped and gave her the book to read for herself. This one defies simple description. All I can say is, dive in and get swept away.
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