Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti


Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: September 22, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1925266958
Pages: 496
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One bag of stolen drug money.
One bungled bank robbery.
Six teenagers.
Six unique powers.
One action-packed week.

These teens have powers that set them apart. But don’t call them heroes. They are the ZEROES.

Ethan, aka Scam, has a voice inside him that will say whatever people want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t – like when ‘the voice’ starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery and lands him in a whole lot of trouble. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly his best friends these days.

After Scam’s SOS, Nate, aka Bellwether – the group’s ‘glorious leader’ – summons the other Zeroes for a rescue mission. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases. Can they put aside their differences and work together to keep everyone safe – or will it be the worst week of their lives?


35 stars

Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts has been pestering me to read Zeroes for a couple of weeks now so I finally picked up a copy. My bookstore had signed copies so when I saw it, I had to pick it up. I’ve just finished reading the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, so what better way to prolong my feels than to pick up another book about kids with superpowers?

Zeroes is the first book in a new urban fantasy series (does anyone know how many books?) with a diverse cast of characters. It was thrilling and exciting, and a really quick read. Despite being 500 pages, I finished this in almost one sitting because the chapters are very short. The writing flowed very smoothly and it was a joy to read. I also couldn’t tell which author wrote which chapters, which is a testament to how seamlessly the book was woven together and edited. This book is a multi-POV book, written from six perspectives, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book because it flowed so smoothly from one perspective to the next..

This book is set in Cambria, California in an urban setting. Because of this, there was very little world building required. I went into the book half-expecting it to be set in Sydney, Australia because all three of the authors are based in Sydney. But let’s be real… when are books ever set in Australia? It’s been a while since I’ve picked up an urban fantasy book though so I really appreciated the familiar setting in Zeroes.

I really enjoyed the pace of the writing for most of this book. The beginning of the novel was very eventful but the pace and excitement levels of it really dropped off for 100-150 pages in the aftermath of the rescue mission, as we were getting to know the characters. The writing became very reflective and it just felt slow and draggy to me. There wasn’t much action or plot during this section either, so I felt like I was just sitting there waiting for something to happen. Luckily it picked up at around the halfway mark when I started liking the characters more – it became a character-driven book rather than a plot-driven book.

The characters had some interesting and unique abilities that I’ve never encountered before. They were kind of mind-boggling at times but the authors did a great job at explaining them. I still had a little bit of a hard time understanding how Kelsie and Nate’s powers worked though. They both have the ability to control groups/crowds in some way, but I couldn’t grasp how these abilities actually worked. Most of their superpowers also seemed more like a curse than a blessing.

“Your power is a blessing. But as far as I can tell, the rest of these guys are pretty much cursed.”

I had a hard time connecting with the characters until about the halfway point. While the book is written from all six perspectives of the Zeroes, the first half of the book is mostly narrated from Ethan and Kelsie’s points of view, and I didn’t really like either of them until the very end of the novel. I didn’t like them individually. I didn’t like them together. My dislike for them just made it really hard for me to enjoy the first half of the book.

When Anonymous, the handsome and well-dressed guy of the group, finally made his appearance, I became enamoured with the book. He was by far my favourite character because his story was so interesting. He’s the guy who is invisible to the world – people forget about him as soon as they turn their backs to him. As the book progresses, he develops friendships with some of the other Zeroes and they were so heartwarming to read about. I also enjoyed Flicker, a blind girl who is able to see the world through the eyes of others. I really connected with her character and her perspective was my favourite to read from.

The other two characters, Crash (a girl who can control all things electronic and crash them) and Nate, the charismatic ringleader of the Zeroes, I could’ve done without. I have zero thoughts or opinions about Crash – her superpower is kind of cool though and she’s pretty much the one who saves the day each time. She barely appeared in this book and the only time we really got to see her was when she was rescuing everyone. And Nate… wow I just hated this guy. He wasn’t in the book very much either, but he came off as obnoxious and it appears that he has some selfish, ulterior motives.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The plot was fast-paced and exciting but what stood out to me the most were the characters and the dynamics between them. I’m not sure if this needs to be a series though – I was thoroughly satisfied with how this book ended, and you can definitely read it as a standalone.


30 thoughts on “Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      They ARE awesome! I like that they’re not the standard superpowers that we always hear about. They’re really unique but at the same time they don’t feel like they’re super out there, because they fit so well with the setting of the book. I guess what I’m trying to say is they’re really modern superpowers that really suit the urban setting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

        Yeah I don’t think I have read any super powers like the ones you mentioned especially the one where the girl can see through other people’s eyes eyes. Now that’s what you call a power! I think I might want to check this book out because I don’t read many urban fantasy sort of books.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Josephine says:

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book! The more I hear about it, the more excited I get. The use of unique superpowers is so cool and that’s what has me really intrigued to read this at the moment! And also Joey was very persuasive!

    Great review 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BooksatDawn says:

    I love that you didn’t absoultely love it like Joey did. It really puts things into perspective. Everyone will like different things and not everyone will have the same feelings.

    Great review! I can’t wait to get into this book when I finally finish the two I’m reading now 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    I think I’m going to read this eventually since I really like Scott Westerfeld (I don’t think I’ve heard of the other two authors though). I read Uglies when I was a preteen and, unlike popular opinion, I really enjoyed that series. And I’m kind of skeptical with the multi-POV. I don’t even usually like dual perspectives… but since you still had a good reading experience, I think I’ll be okay. As always, great in-depth review, Jenna!

    And I had no idea this was a series… Maybe sequels are uncertain? I just checked Westerfeld’s site and there are no hints on the future books… Or maybe they will do a different arc with another set of characters?

    Oh, I saw your tweet about taking back liking Shadowhunter’s Clary actress. I just saw the trailer, and is it too early to say I’m a little disappointed? D:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I haven’t heard of the other two authors either but I think they’re both Australian. This is actually my first Scott Westerfeld book but I now also have the Leviathan trilogy.

      I think Aentee and a couple of others didn’t like the multi-POV because you didn’t see enough of each of the characters. I didn’t mind it so much because I didn’t care for half of our crew and don’t particularly want to see more from them…

      I think there’ll most likely be at least one more book because they’re still discovering their powers and new sides to their powers. It’ll probably carry through to the next book. I’m just kind of sceptical about what plots the next book/s will have.

      Omg I’m SO disappointed with the Shadowhunter’s trailer. I saw the promo trailer and thought that was promising (even though it had some weird lighting/colouring). But the official trailer really let me down. Clary just isn’t how I pictured her and her acting was TERRIBLE. I liked all the scenes where she wasn’t present 😀 But did you see the 10 second sneakpeek with Alec? THAT was awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vane @ Books With Chemistry says:

    Gnna be honest with you: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Australia, which is sad. :/ And god NO, I was so excited for this book! My co-blogger reviewed it recently, and she pretty much loved it. I shall lower my expectations, though this still seems like a good book. 🙂 Great review, Jenna!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I’ve read quite a few books set in Australia but those are always by Australian authors who don’t have their books published internationally. It’s quite sad 😦

      I really thought Zeroes would be set in Sydney but maybe it’s more universally appealing and marketable if it’s set in the US?


  5. thatssojacob says:

    Hey there Jenna! Just clicking around the blogosphere and commenting on blogs that I think are fun and interesting, and you’re one of them. October is my birthday month, so consider this an invitation to my month-long birthday party. Hope to see you over at That’s So Jacob sometime!


  6. vlangloisx3 says:

    First I didn’t notice that this was written by multiple authors, so that was kind of cool. And then second, Anonymous sounds amazing. I may have to read the book just for him, just because he sounds so cool. I’m glad you enjoyed this Jenna, even though there were some parts that could’ve been left out.

    Liked by 1 person

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