Book Review: Zeroes by Chuck Wendig

23460958Title: Zeroes

Author: Chuck Wendig

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Fiction, Cyberpunk

Publisher: Tor Books

Published: May 19, 2015

Page Amount: 336 pages

Goodreads SummaryFive 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. At a secret complex known only as “the Lodge,” where they will spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, these misfits dub themselves “the Zeroes.”

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. Packed with electric wit and breakneck plot twists, Zer0es is an unforgettable thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of “progress.”

Why I Read: If we’re being honest: wanting to read this book goes back practically five years. I have the most distinct memory of listening to Jeff O’Neil from Book Riot interviewing Chuck Wendig on one of the podcasts that I so love. Not only was Chuck the most amusing human to host a podcast (i.e. he had no filter whatsoever), but his books sounded like a lot of fun. Science fiction, hacking and humour all packed in one is enough of a draw, but the way that he spoke was reason enough in my book to store Zeroes away for a winter day (and I finally got around to it!).

Review: Another foray into honesty (strange I know), but my primary reason for downloading this book onto my Kindle was the pre-knowledge that I had exhausted my american history geekiness for a couple days. Much as I love reading about Hamilton, Madison and the founding fathers, it can get to be overly exhausting. So after last week and taking a little journey into my favourite genre, I wanted to read something light and bubbly. Zeroes seemed like the perfect choice… and in hindsight, it was! I adored the characters and the plot line of Zeroes. It wasn’t made out to be a serious book, and that meant that both the authors and the characters got to poke fun at themselves and the tropes.

There’s a conspiracy theorist, a troll, a lurker, a social activist, a faker and the classic white hacker story… if that includes blackmail, a creepy program and something so disturbing that I honestly was not expecting it until I turned the page and let out an “urgh” sound on the train. Who doesn’t want that?! Despite the book being light and funny, part of the reason I so enjoyed reading it was that Wendig doesn’t let up on quality. Each of the characters not only has a compelling backstory, but they also have a way of sticking with you. Initially, I was concerned that there were so many protagonists (six or so) – but given a couple chapters, and I innately knew each of them.

The pace of the story was also intriguing. Each chapter went by with a speed that was surprising. In fact, I finished the book in less than two days. Given that I am stuck reading only on commutes (not counting when I am listening to podcasts), that’s impressive for a book to catch me. The writing style is fun, something that you expect to read from a particularly well-written blog post that lends itself to quick perusal. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I found myself laughing and smiling on the trains, ignoring friends in favour of finishing a chapter and even (gasp) taking less time for podcasts. So – I would recommend it. Yes. Definitely read the book if you want something on the lighter side and you want a little escapism in this age of fake news and delusional presidents.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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