Other Sellers on Amazon
Zero Sum Game (Cas Russell) Hardcover – October 2, 2018
|New from||Used from|
"Unspeakable Things" by Jess Lourey
Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems. | Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"Fresh and exciting. ... a great start to an exciting series--and an exciting career." -- Boing Boing
“A smart, calculated action thriller that keeps the reader guessing.”―Den of Geek
“Trust us, trigonometry has never sounded so cool.”―Paste Magazine
“Fun and original.”―San Francisco Chronicle
"The best novel I've read this year; a heroine I fell in love with."―Eric Van Lustbader, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Cas Russell is who I want to be when I grow up. She kicks ass with her fists and her brain―a true twenty-first century action hero. I loved this book."―Richard Kadrey
“This book lines up like a perfect, elegant equation ― it’s fast, furious, and adds up to one of the coolest, most crackin’ reads this year. ”―Chuck Wendig, New York Times bestselling author of Invasive and Star Wars: Aftermath
“The smartest and thrillingest book you’ll read all year.”―Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
"Paced at a flat out sprint, Zero Sum Game deploys an astonishing array of weapons together with the prickly charms of its math genius protagonist on her turbulent journey toward trust and connection."―Kate Elliott
"Intense, vivid, and insanely clever, with a great heroine―I couldn't put it down. If only more authors with math degrees used them like this!"―Yoon Ha Lee, New York Times bestselling author
"A fast-paced, darkly humorous read with a lot of heart for fans of action and urban fantasy, as well as lovers of Wolverine and other morally ambiguous, gritty superheroes with a mysterious past."―Booklist, Starred Review
"This hard-to-put-down, action-packed sf debut is intelligent and entertaining. With Cas, Huang has created an indelible, flawed character who makes mathematics seem almost magical."―Library Journal, Starred Review
“A paranormal thriller in which both the action and the questions don't stop....Cas is an awesome antiheroine...exciting, nasty fun...an excellent harbinger for books to come.”―Kirkus
About the Author
- Publisher : Tor Books (October 2, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250180252
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250180254
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.41 x 1.2 x 9.59 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #458,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Cas Russell might have powers, but she’s more a super-powered anti-heroine than a straight out superhero. People hire her to retrieve items for them, often illegally, and she has no compunctions about killing people she sees as a threat. In Zero Sum Game, Cas is hired to retrieve a woman from a drug gang and soon finds herself in the middle of something bigger.
Something I really liked about the book was that Cas actually goes through some character development. Usually the stone cold, badass anti-heroines don’t start questioning their willingness to kill people the way Cas ends up doing. Through the course of the book, you also see Cas come to make connections with other people and start trying to trust them. This growth, combined with her awesome mathematical based powers, makes Cas one of the better anti-heroines I’ve come across.
I am really interested in finding out more about Cas’s background, since we only get hints in Zero Sum Game. Luckily, I got the feeling that future books will explore this more. Similarly, I’d like to know more about the existence of other powered people. Besides Cas’s math abilities, you don’t see any other science fiction elements until quite a ways into the novel. In all, I’d say the book owes more to the thriller genre than superhero tales.
Another plus point for me is that this is a female lead story without a romance plot. While I think there could be romance in future books, there actually wasn’t any in this one.
It’s a minor thing, but I would have liked to see Cas work with another woman. All her principal allies in this one are men, and the only other significant female characters are antagonists. Hopefully the next book will be different on this front.
All in all, I found Zero Sum Game to be a fun, action packed read that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a thriller for some light entertainment. I am keen to read the sequel.
Really amazingly great story with lots of fun math (and math jokes!), gunfights, fistfights, evil villain plots, and wonderful characters in Cas Russell, Arthur Tresting, and Checker.
Our protagonist, Cas, can somehow see vector calculus in her mind, and uses that to fight her way through some great scenes. I won't include any spoilers here; you should really read it all for yourself.
Huang's writing style is wry, has a great bite, and kept me up until 3am waiting to see what was next. A true page-turner if there ever was one. Also very refreshing to hear an own voices thriller novel!
Its fast paced and fun. Almost too fast paced. Makes you think "hmm, this should really be made into a movie".
Its an easy fun read but complex enough not to be a child's book.
Unless you prefer boring books that have little action I don't see people having many complaints about this one. And there are some great books out there with very little action. I loved Silus Marner for instance. But this isn't that. You feel the action in this one. But it is complex enough to have depth, without so much you get lost.
Cas Russell, the protagonist,is so super-duper strong and skilled that she comes across as incredibly Mary-Jane-ish. Until, well, the end of the first page. It took the writer that long to convince me that this book had a lot more to offer.
Huang's prose is tight, and this is a fast, fast book. It's a good adrenaline read, right up my alley, with explosions and guns and well-deserved punches in the nose, but it's got story too. This is the kind of urban fantasy that I love: ass-kicking super powers, fascinating characters that blossom visually in my mind, questions that lead to answers that lead to more questions. Did I mention explosions?
I loved the writing. I loved the characters. I read it in a single sitting and I'm ready for the next.
So, that's my official blessing. Here's the official description:
Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good.
The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight. She can take any job for the right price and shoot anyone who gets in her way.
As far as she knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower … but then Cas discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.
Someone who’s already warped Cas’s thoughts once before, with her none the wiser.
Cas should run. Going up against a psychic with a god complex isn’t exactly a rational move, and saving the world from a power-hungry telepath isn’t her responsibility. But she isn’t about to let anyone get away with violating her brain — and besides, she’s got a small arsenal and some deadly mathematics on her side. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.
Top reviews from other countries
As the blurb indicates, Cas is good at math. So good, that she can send a bullet ricocheting off various surfaces where she’s calculated for hardness, rebound angle and flexibility of moveable objects. She can shoot round corners, no problem. Cas usually takes protection type jobs, or occasionally search and rescue, where the search is for someone abducted, rather than lost by accident. She has very few friends, and she prefers it that way. The characterisation is perfect. The few friends she has are pretty good too.
The friend she hasn’t got is also an interesting case, and I’ve discovered I’m interested in how this all develops. The plot thickens satisfactorily, twists and turns a few times, and the friend she hasn’t got goes in and out of favour a few times. Doubts over who can be trusted, concerns about the bigger picture, and an antagonist with a massive secret… it all adds up to a very convoluted tale that still hangs together.
I’m aware I’m not reviewing this very clearly – it’s partly because there is so much going on I don’t want to spoil it for you. Part-cop, part-vigilante, part-dystopia, part-heist, part-X-men. Maybe it’s The Sting meets Blade Runner. I’m not sure. What I do know is the more I think about Zero Sum Game the more I want to read the next in the series. I'm gripped!
She uses this ability in her fight and shoot her way out of problems she encounters doing her job: recovering lost items and people. And she has to keep busy, otherwise the calculations will drive her mad.
But her most recent job has gone wrong. She has been set up by the one person she trusts, and she doesn’t know why. Worse still, someone has been altering her memories and motivations: can she even trust herself any more?
This is rip-roaring excitement from page one, pure nerd wish fulfillment fantasy, with a side-helping of global conspiracy. Cas is wrong-footed, on the run, with all sides trying to take her out, and no guarantees who the good guys are. There’s lots of fights, lots of guns, and lots of vector calculus. (Although it was never made clear if all the Riemann zero calculations had any effect.) This particular plot is wrapped up, but events at the end clearly indicate there’s more to Cas than she knows. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. It’s out on Kindle, but I’m going to wait for the dead tree version.
But while maths can be really useful, it's not the best defence against somebody who can read your mind and implant thoughts in it. So when Cas finds herself up against said telepath, she not only has some nefarious schemes to scupper, she's also got to be sure she's not unknowingly helping them along.
Zero Sum Game is the debut novel from SL Huang and it's pretty good. Not only does it feature a main character who manages to kick asses while being female, her superpower is maths. Or 'math', because this book is American. The only thing my maths skills have done for me is enable me to always buy the most cost effective bag of dishwasher tablets even when I don't have a calculator.
I've heard a lot of good things about this one so I was initially a bit disappointed. The opening was underwhelming - not because it did anything wrong; it read like the action sequence which preceeds the credits of a blockbuster film which was fine and everything, just ... meh. However, by 16% it had me. Cas is a witty voice (I will admit, I slightly want to be her. I want to throw sticks.) and she's joined by a cast who complement her nicely. I especially liked the interplay between her and Arthur - he's a nice (if marginally predictable) foil to Cas's Lone Ranger attitude, a dose of empathy in situations where some things need remembering.
The ways in which this could have gone horribly wrong are many and, all credit to Huang, it didn't. When you've got a first person narrator who may not be acting of her own volition you need to get it right and Huang mostly did. The pace keeps things moving forward and it was only towards the end, when that began to slacken, that I felt some minor irritation with a couple of things.
While I was reading it, this was on course for 4 stars - I usually have 2 books on the go, one upstairs and one downstairs; if I carry a book to another floor with me, it's a good sign - but the ending is also underwhelming. It's not bad, just weak. Although the book stands alone, it's the first in a projected series (Book 2, Half Life, is out now) and much of what I disliked were the manoeuvres in the final third, the necessary setting-up of strands for future books.
Zero Sum Game is a seriously enjoyable read for the most part. It's got a great premise, a main character who does it justice, and a story which kept me reading. If only the ending had been better. 3.5 stars and I'll likely be getting the next book in the future.
The pace. Things happen constantly and you really feel the urgency that Cas is also feeling.
The mystery. I think this is set up very well from the start and the rate at which we get information is steady but not in an info dump.
The interaction between Cas and Rio. I like that you don't quite understand what's going on and the hints that he's keeping things from her.
What I struggle with:
Cas herself. I really struggle to get a sense of what Cas is like as a character and a lot of things seems to be said rather than shown.
I also struggle a bit with the way the book is ended, although to say anymore would risk spoilers.
Overal, this is a good thriller with an interesting concept and a couple of interesting moral quandaries. I'll be interested to see how the second one deals with some of the hints thrown out in this book.
The book follows the unconventional Cas Russell as a seemingly innocuous retrieval exercise turns into something more sinister, and forces her to team up with people who are equally reluctant to work with her. The moral ambiguity in the book is a neat touch - Cas doesn't like being manipulated but isn't above a bit of manipulation herself when it suits her aims - and helps to hook the reader further into the story.
I was particularly intrigued by the undercurrent between Cas and her 'not a friend' Rio, which hints at more to come in the rest of the series. Like all good series, this is a book which gave me just enough that if the second one was out, I'd have bought it immediately, and I suggest you do the same with this one.