Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Westerfeld's back, baby - and this time, he's got a new team of co-writers to assist him on a strange little YA superhero story. It's not much of an adventure - in fact, it's a little more like Heroes, with our main characters hiding in the shadows (mostly) and trying not to show off their powers to the public. It's a little like Gone, too, with its Central California coastal setting (and when I looked up the town of Cambria, I was surprised to learn that it was the filming location of Arachnophobia, and not the good-sized university town the book makes it out to be.)
Six different Zeroes (as they call themselves) narrate the story in alternate third-person POV chapters - think Heroes of Olympus or A Song Of Ice And Fire. They're good characters, but some are much better than others. My favorites were Crash (because of how unusual her power is - not just wiping out technology, but also being one with it like Gary on Alphas), Flicker (because of the sweet sibling bond she's got), and Anonymous, whose utter forgettability, I found oddly relatable.
The other Zeroes didn't do as much to make me like them, though. I'm still not quite sure what Nate's power is or how it works - and since it seems to work by affecting the emotional energy of a group (or so I've been led to believe), doesn't that make Mob redundant? And as for Scam, his power is inconsistently written. If the voice is designed to tell people what they want to hear, why does it instead develop a mind of its own and just show off what Scam's not supposed to know half the time? And the other half, it insults everyone because it's what Scam wants, and Scam's frustrated, and...and you know what? They don't explain enough about what happened last summer anyway. There's a lot of stuff that goes unexplained, like, most importantly, why the Zeroes have their powers. I mean, Heroes never explained it either (it was basically, "solar eclipse, funny helix, boom, save the cheerleader"), but with the obvious strands of Gone in the book's DNA, I'm really hoping they eventually come up with an explanation in the sequels to this book. Maybe it'll be something a little less outlandish than the gaiaphage, though.
Still, though, the book, while quite faulty at times (particularly in its long, drawn-out first third, which focuses way too much on Scam and Mob at the expense of the other Zeroes), does pick up eventually. Especially when the action really kicks in - Crash killing the police station, anyone? And there are a few little Westerfeld-y touches I really liked - for instance, that Delta-Bravo "the Craig" talking about the stupid EDM club tunes as "doof-doof" music.
Yeah, I'll be waiting for the second book, no problem.
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