Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Zeroes: fun paranormal YA from Westerfeld, Lanagan, and Biancotti

Zeroes is a new young adult book by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti, which is very reminiscent of a fun but short-lived TV series I liked a lot—anyone see Misfits, the show about a group of teens unexpectedly given superpowers by a freak storm? If not, don’t worry, it’s still available free on Hulu.com—and, on a further tangent, it stars Iwan Rheon, now of Game of Thrones fame, playing a VERY different and interesting character.



Back to the book—Zeroes has six main characters with (you guessed it) superpowers. They don’t know why they have these powers: their best guess so far is that it has something to do with them all being born in the same year. Their powers are handy, but most have an unavoidable flip side. Each has a special nickname as part of the group.

Scam (Ethan): Some people hear voices that don’t belong to them in their heads. Scam’s “voice” isn’t just in his head—it comes out of his mouth, saying whatever it takes to get whatever Scam currently wants. Problem: it’s not big on taking the long-view or considering consequences.

Bellwether (Nate): He can see the energy that ties a group or a crowd together, and lead them where he wants them to go, making them think it was all their own idea. But what’s his end game? And how can his friends ever trust him?

Flicker (Riley): Blind since birth, she’s developed the ability to see through other people’s eyes. Her power seems to have the least amount of downside; maybe that’s why she comes across as the most ‘normal’ one.

Anonymous (Thibeau): Nice not to be noticed, to be able to sneak around and spy—or is it? Anonymous’ family abandoned him when he got sick at the hospital, because without his constant presence at home, they forgot his existence and moved his grandmother into his bedroom. Now he lives unnoticed in a luxury hotel—but even his friends can’t remember his name.

Mob (Kelsey): Like Bellwether, she can see and manipulate the energy of groups of people, but in more of a crowd-surfing way and less of a leadership way. If he’s a scientist, she’s an artist. But unfortunately, the crowd affects her back, sometimes filling her with fear or anger, and she can’t always resist.

Crash (Chizara): Her power comes with a hunger to destroy anything electrical, seemingly at the circuit level, and an ability to do it with the strength of her mind. She must stay far away from hospitals or prisons for fear of losing control and causing serious damage. The joy of crashing systems is like a drug which she must constantly resist, and she’s harangued by the constant buzz of modern life.

A really fun book, and presumably the opening of a series. Scam’s mouth leads him into the kind of serious trouble that involves guns and warehouses and large sums of dirty cash, and the others converge to rescue him, testing their bonds and strengthening their purpose as they go. Can’t wait for the next one.

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