I'm glad I read this book and will read the sequel.
The author is really good at making you feel the sheer hopelessness of her characters position. Whenever the MC was scared, conflicted, or hopeless, I was right there with him. The situation he's in is complicated and every time he explores a solution, it feels like he's walking on a razor's edge with disaster and death on either side. I was holding my breath through half the book.
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Another notable quality of this book is it's ability to make believable, harsh antagonists and anti-heroes. The aliens perform unspeakable acts of cruelty and treat the humans like garbage, but by the end I could see why they did it and even respect them to a certain degree.
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I didn't agree with what they did ultimately, but I could see why they felt like they had no other choice. I was somewhat annoyed by a few things, though. The hero has claustrophobia and this weakness is built up like it's going to be a significant hurdle for him to overcome.
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Why bother having it? Everyone was treating it like some huge deal. Also, even though I could see why the MC and his friends became loyal soldiers, I didn't understand why they would turn on each other for it. And finally, the kids were supposedly each assigned a number that was to replace their name to help strip them of their individually, however, nobody is referred to by their number besides MC! I only knew the numbers of two characters. Everyone else was always called by their real names or some nickname. I feel like the author just wanted her MC to be called zero.
However, it was ultimately a solid book. What can I say? By the 3rd page I was hooked, sucked in, ground up, addicted and like so many other reviewers, I can't get enough! I've been reading science fiction since I was a kid, I used to pick up those monthly periodicals that had a collection of science fiction shorts in them and from them I found the masters and then went on to read the novels. I got this book during a sale from BookBub and paid roughly half for it, by the time I was halfway through it I was back here paying full price for the 3 book collection. I haven't read science fiction this good in 35 years!
I love her writing, it grabs you and doesn't let you go, I've read all the Zero books, I started in mid May and I'm finished with the series and halfway through her first Outer Bounds book. Now I'm one of many on facebook begging her to finish Zero book four! She's the best author to hit the genre in 30 to 40 years!
Buy these books, you won't regret it! My expectation was not met. She has a lean, mean, and - dare I say it? She writes battle scenes like an ex-soldier. Military people in her family or is she former military? Or maybe it's all that rasslin' with Kodiak brown bears?
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She writes with a good command of the English language, but more importantly keeps her writing in synch with the characters while avoiding the bane of indie writers: I think the book could've stood a bit of editing; for me, the brutal training scenes were a tad repetitive.
But I appreciated the unrelenting reality of the alien "boot camp" and the courage of the author to portray it unflinchingly. I never had the sense that she was getting off on the violence or the incredibly tame and off-camera sex scenes an approach I favor in my own novels , nor did I find any of the unpleasant aspects gratuitous. When you are drafted by an alien species whose imperative is to produce hardened soldiers no matter what the cost, expect to feel some pain.
I'm a fan of the author and plan to check out her other stuff. Joe Dobbs is an unlikely 14 year old hero. While his younger brother is the smart and unconventional one, Joe is like his dad, the Marine. Joe becomes their champion, and in the process he becomes a leader. These are not pretty adventures, they are hard and dirty and dangerous with volatile characters. Sara King does a wonderful job of world and character building.
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While I found some of the creatures odd, they work. The bottom line is that the new world Joe inhabits is much harder and more dangerous than the peaceful Earth he left. How he adapts will make the difference whether he survives or not. Some of the larger than life characters are so good at posturing that they become easy to exploit. The vein of humor running through the story helps make some of the hard things easier to take.
I found myself completely caught up, and I eagerly downloaded the second book as soon as I finished the first. Zero is a hero you will cheer for. One person found this helpful. See all 1, reviews. See all customer images.
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