The Wednesday Review: ZER0ES by Chuck Wendig

Tracked down by the government, five hackers are forced into serving their country, using their skills to infiltrate companies and countries around the globe, searching out weaknesses and stealing as much data as they can.

It’s not long before they realize there’s some larger game being played, but what their part in it is, they don’t know.

When they find out, they’re determined to fix what they broke – and take down the organization that instigated the mess in the first place.

I swear, Zer0es is like manna from Heaven for conspiracy theorists. The shit Wendig dreamed up for this story comes so scarily close to plausible I found myself checking the news to see if it had happened. It also makes it a difficult book to review, because you talk too much about what goes on at the Lodge and between Chance, Aleena, and the rest of the Zeroes and something slips out that shouldn’t and spoils the rest of the book.

Chance is our guide through this crazy, mixed up project. We spend more time in his head, with his doubts and fears and hopes, than the other four Zeroes. Along with the load of guilt he’s lugging behind him, he’s got a mouth that occasionally lands him in hot water and a deceptively easygoing manner that allows him to talk his way past almost any gatekeeper, a skill the other hackers soon realize is invaluable. They hack electronic-based entities. He hacks people. Therefore, Chance is way cool.

Reading Zer0es was like watching one of my favorite Hong Kong action films. You’ve got a smart plot, twists and turns and hidden bits and pieces, car chases, gun fights, a big, scary dude called the Compiler, and a pay-off that makes you sit up and take notice. The multiple viewpoints splice together to provide the reader with that no no don’t DO that feeling you get when you’re watching a fast-paced thriller, when the good guys turn down the wrong alley and you know the bad guys are waiting at the end with a full arsenal but they don’t.

Taut, wicked smart, with swear words aplenty, Zer0es is going on the keeper shelf as a prime example of cinematic literature.

Copy of Zer0es provided by the publisher in exchange for review.

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