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Zeroes Mass Market Paperback – May 31, 2016
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“This taut thriller will reinforce your paranoia about big government, big data, and that big, nerdy barista who just seems to know too much.” (Wall Street Journal)
“[A] high-octane blend of nervy characters, dark humor and bristling dialogue... smart, timely, electrifying.” (NPR)
“Highly cinematic.” (Library Journal)
“With complex characters and feverishly paced action, ZEROES is a sci-fi thriller that won’t stop blowing your mind until the last page. ... It left me rooting for the hackers!” (Daniel H. Wilson, bestselling author of Robopocalypse)
“ZERØES turns ones and zeroes into pure gold - Wendig hacks the action thriller.” (Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author)
“A sci-fi surveillance thriller with a twisted heart of creepy horror. It grabs you by the throat on page one, and never lets go.” (Ramez Naam, author of The Nexus Trilogy)
“A Matrix-y bit of old-school cyberpunk updated to meet the frightening technology of the modern age...An ambitious, bleeding-edge piece of speculative fiction that combines hacker lore, wet-wired horror, and contemporary paranoia in a propulsive adventure that’s bound to keep readers on their toes.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Wendig wields the tools of suspense and tension with skill. His large cast of characters is entertaining, the moments of horror are sharp and chilling, and the story races to a breathless conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Wendig’s second novel is a splendidly profane slice of urban fantasy--hard, dark and fast. Slick one-liners and laugh-out-loud descriptions pepper the prose, macking Blackbirds a black comedy that even the Grim Reaper could smile at.” (Financial Times)
“Wendig writes hard and fast and this is a slick noirish thriller.” (The Independent, on Blackbirds)
“A gleefully dark, twisted road trip for everyone who thought Fight Club was too warm and fuzzy. I loved it, and will be seeking professional help as soon as Chuck lets me out of his basement.” (James Moran, Dr. Who writer, on Blackbirds)
“ZEROES is a very powerful development of the idea of science as magic, with a cast of unwitting sorcerors’ apprentices. It asks a lot of real-world questions, both moral and practical.... It might make you nostalgic for Mr. Gibson’s “Neuromancer”: Life was so much simpler back in the ‘80s.” (Wall Street Journal)
From the Back Cover
Five hackers—an Anonymous-style rabble-rouser, an Arab-Spring hacktivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll—are detained by the U.S. government, forced to work as white-hat hackers for Uncle Sam in order to avoid federal prison. Calling themselves “the Zeroes,” they must spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, at a secret complex known only as “the Lodge.”
But once the Zeroes begin to work, they uncover secrets that would make even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist’s head spin. And soon they’re not just trying to serve their time, they’re also trying to perform the ultimate hack: burrowing deep into the U.S. government from the inside, and hoping they’ll get out alive.
“This taut thriller will reinforce your paranoia about big government, big data, and that big, nerdy barista who just seems to know too much.” Wall Street Journal
“Won’t stop blowing your mind until the last page.” Daniel H. Wilson, bestselling author of Robopocalypse
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Top Customer Reviews
But this book was a giant mess. I forced myself to finish it because of curiosity and the desire to write a review about it with a complete picture.
Here's some of the complaints I have:
No protagonist to root for, empathize with, care about, live vicariously through. When I started the book, I thought the first character must be the protagonist, then realized I was wrong, must be the second guy...Nope.
You cannot have 5 equal protagonists and have a good novel. Sorry. Doesn't happen. You can have 5 good guys, sure. You can even, in some types of stories, have two equal protagonists (but its tough). But five? No, it dilutes the story to the point that as a reader you can never have an emotional connection to a character.
Chuck uses simile and metaphor so much that the effect comes across as a satire, almost as if he's mocking the reader, or himsefl (because, after all, he's not trying to write a Carl Hiaasen novel satirizing life, he's seemingly writing a techno-thriller in the vein of Crichton).
Michael Crichton, a writer whose work I've read (probably about 80% of his thrillers) doesn't have 14 similes and metaphors per page.
In one sentence Chuck has the sound of a face being slapped compared to a beer being popped open, bubble wrap being popped, and a carrot being crunched. I wasn't sure if he was making fun of his readers (ie Ha Ha you stupid idiots will buy and read anything) or if he was having a fight with this publisher and wanted to write the most fake purple prose anyone could possible get away with and still pretend they are a professional.
One simile: The stock market was yo-yoing up and down like a yo-yo.
He used "live wire" or "sparking live wire" at least four times.
He used "pistoned" or "piston" to describe punches about 50 times. Sometimes repeatedly on the same page.
A woman's body was thin and taunt like a "tow cable."
As to the concept of the novel: What if the government invented AI and then the AI turned against humanity? Well, it's not exactly original, but it's a great concept, hell, it's a popular topic because it might actually happen.
Chucks particular take on it comes across as a melodramatic hack job written for 12 year old boys that don't understand anything about hacking, coding, or human nature.
And maybe that is my problem here, maybe this was meant for young teens and for them it's a wild ride. They, perhaps, love "angry red faces that are like zits about to pop" but won't.... I don't know.
Aside from the insanely over the top purple prose maxed out on meth being shoved down the throat of the reader like a goose in France being funnel fed for foie gras...the book had endless "that's not possible" moments...or things that were so unlikely, or things that were copies of other things that made it like a parody.
Maybe the whole exercise was meant as comedy....I don't know.
Oh, finally, this type of thing happened constantly...(and then I'll be done):
They have the power shut off to the entire city of New York. One character says: Good, the cell phone towers won't work.
Another line or two and then: Well, we need to make a phone call....OH, "so, by the way....OUR phones work on these small carriers that happen to have some battery backed up towers exactly where we are going to be, so we can still make phone calls...
Or: He pulled out a flashlight (that he needed just then) and Chuck writes: "that he found in the glove box of the car,,,,blah, blah, blah..."
Gee, how convenient.
Then there is the character that all of a sudden is flying a helicopter: Oh, well, Wade was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.....Don't cha know?
LOL...yeah, a guy that hasn't flown a helicopter in 45 years is going to jump into a Russian helicopter he's never flown before....And fly up to a moving train...so that a computer nerd can jump from the moving train onto the helicopter...very believable..if you're six years old.
The coincidences and the "God in the Machine" and things that just happen to "go the right way" is overwhelming, again, it was like watching an episode of the A-Team where an enemy fires 6000 rounds of machine gun fire and nobody gets killed.
I don't usually write such negative reviews, but in this case I kind of feel upset.
What was anyone thinking with this project? Was it for real? I just don't know.
I can't recommend it and I feel kind of cheated.
I loved Zeroes (or maybe Zer0es, if you like, but the book and listings suggest otherwise). It's a fast paced hacker tale that goes one way, then moves another and in the end lands somewhere I didn't expect. Part techno thriller, part body horror, part end-of-the-world tale, I found it gripping from start to finish. Loved all the characters, loved the supporting cast and was thoroughly creeped out by the bad guys.
While arguably it could have been a bit more nuanced, I read this as the Crichton-esque techno thrill ride I expected, and it didn't disappoint. Also, god-damn his eyes, Wendig's prose is smooth and precise, like... like... dammit Chuck help me out here?
This awful mess is what happens when a halfway-decent author who knows nothing about computers, networking, the Internet, and technology in general decides to write a 'hacker' novel. And, in the process, recycles tired, overused plot devices and typical 'cyber-'nonense characterization - if you can call it that - which are utterly predictable and so overused as to have become self-satirizing.
If you work in any aspect of the IT, networking, or information security disciplines, avoid this book like the plague; the author comes out with some cringe-inducing clanger every page or so. If you know nothing about these things, you should still avoid this book like the plague, because the author has apparently forgotten everything he knows about decent plotting, robust characterization, and is phoning it into a sea of incompetent, incoherent technobabble.
One of the most disappointing books I've ever bought. A real stinker.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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