Author: Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publisher’s Blurb: 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.”
… North Korea is like the crazy little brother that keeps kicking over the neighbor’s potted plants and dropping flaming bags of dog shit on their doorstep. You protect them because they’re your brother, but in private you drag them over the coals for acting like such an epic asshole. (p. 274)
I came to Chuck Wendig through the Miriam Black series. Miriam is one of my very favorite urban fantasy protagonists with her dark secret power which has driven her to a life of self-sabotage which makes most of us look sane and normal.
None of the characters on Zer0es come even close to being as interesting. Not even the AI called Typhon.
And while I enjoyed Zer0es as the perfect mind candy getaway, the story of five disparate hackers forced to make the choice between prison or hacking for a unknown government project read like a Michael Crichton thriller without all the horrifying deathly side effects.
I really wanted to like this book on a level other than a Lord of the Flies-esque survival of the best hackers against each other, conspiracy minded players with a cult like belief they’re on the righteous side, and a terrifying Ai which could have come from any wetware scenario.
The writing is smart, and often times thrilling. And as I said farther up, it’s a great afternoon read. But for me, it read like “been there, read that.” That’s not Wendig’s fault, I’ve probably been reading voraciously longer than he’s known how to string words together.
There are other books written by Wendig which interest me. I’m looking forward to catching up on Miriam Black. Zer0es just sort of missed the mark for me.