Tag Archives: Harper Voyager

Review: Zer0es

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Title: Zer0es
Author:  Chuck Wendig
Published: 2015
ISBN-13: 9780062351555
Publisher:  Harper Voyager
Twitter: @ChuckWendig
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.

Review: Dead Set

Dead Set
Richard Kadrey

Title: Dead Set
Author: Richard Kadrey
Published: 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-228301-6
Publisher:  Harper Voyager

When I think of horror, I think of Freddy Krueger or Nightmare on Elm Street or Stephen King, even.

If I were to categorize Richard Kadrey’s books, they would be urban fantasy, which also have a dark twisted underbelly to them.

But many have categorized Kadrey as horror, and since I’m not big on quibbling about labels, I’ll just say “‘Kay.”  Because what it all comes down to is story.  What is the story and how is the story told?  That’s what makes a great read for me.

Dead Set is the story of Zoe and how her teenaged life got derailed after her father dies.  The only thing good she can count on is visits with her dream brother, Valentine, when she goes to sleep.  But then, (good stories always have a but then) …

But then, a black dog starts appearing in her dreams.  And she meets a guy at a record shop storing records with souls captured on them.  For a seemingly small price, he’ll let Zoe commune with her father.

And then, Zoe actually goes to her father and nothing is even close to how she imagined it might be.

Kadrey’s stories are creepy, that’s for damned sure.  But they’re also interesting, well-thought out and entertaining.  In Zoe’s story, he captures that heart-ache of a teenage girl trying to fit into her own life, and make sense of the changes that have happened.  It’s the story of a girl longing to re-connect with the love she once felt from both her parents, and to use her teenage rebellion for something other than just being a rebel.

I love the Sandman Slim series.  Love it.  In Dead Set, we have a quieter protagonist whose world is almost as dangerous as Slim’s.  And I loved it just as much.