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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
Top customer reviews
A novel by Chuck Wendig
The Selector gathers them from across the country, cyber criminals all; a punk crusader, an obnoxious troll, a thief, a terrorist, a “whistle-blower“ of secrets. Threatened with lengthy prison sentences, they all agree to work for the government for a year. Isolated, tested, then thrown together as a “Pod” at a remote location, the “ZerØes,” as they now call themselves, are honed as a weapon. With that weapon, their keepers have them breach containment on diverse web sites that at first glance have no relationship to one another. But from those penetrations something sinister rises, something called “Typhon,” named after a many-eyed monster from Greek mythology. It is an AI with an ambition to rule the nation, if not the world. By using our obsessive drive toward interconnectivity, it is near omniscient. Murder on a large scale is but a tool to use in bringing those not part of Typhon’s collective to heel. And the only people with the knowledge to effectively fight it are the broken, strange and angry “ZerØes.”
"ZerØes" is a fine story, but it begins a trifle slow, and the characters are anything but warm and cuddly. They do grow on you as the story unfolds, and their motivations become clearer, but couldn't they have been made a bit more sympathetic initially? Additionally, by dividing the "hero" among so many characters focus and energy is lost until the last quarter of the story. And while it finishes with suspense and daring-do to spare it is nowhere near as enjoyable as other Chuck Wendig novels I could name.
Rating: 3.5 Stars.
But on the other hand, if you're a network or infosec expect who gets hung up on details, you're in for a rough time. There's a cell phone with built-in USB cable that can telnet into random servers. There's Ivo Shandor, the man responsible for every hack that's been in the news for the past five years (meaning the ones where the actual guys are known and named). There's hacks getting done in a day against high-security systems from stock Ubuntu workstations, lighting systems getting hacked, Linux permissions on Windows boxes, and... well, I won't get into the villain, but I only avoided snapping my credulity by assuming all this takes place in the Blue Blazes universe and that some degree of magic was involved. Not as bad as, say, Scorpion, but jarring to notice.
I never describe plots in my reviews because I don't like to read about the plots in other readers' reviews.
This book is written in present-tense, which I don't care for, in general. It works well here, though. The multiple POVs are well-handled. You never wonder whose point-of-view you're getting. You'll also get to know each of the characters quite well, and you'll want to know even more. (Is it possible there might be a sequel? I certainly hope so.)
I did think the ending was a little hurried. I wanted more development there.
Is it worth your time and money? If you like fast-paced, computer-oriented science fiction with some horror, some humour, some rapid-fire action, yes, it is. Will you be enraptured by the imagery and the elegant use of language? Probably not, but you'll be carried away by the action, and you'll want these young (and not-so-young) characters to win against the seemingly insurmountable odds they face.