Zero

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

There are so many aspects that ring true as to what a near future could be like. Being monitored, watched, followed and studied via technology, drones and social media.
Equal parts fascinating and terrifying. this is a brilliant new sub-genre mix of sci-fi, speculative fiction and thriller.

Great read!!!
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A techo-thriller and cautionary tale for our time. A particularly good read for fans of Black Mirror and the like.
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I am a sucker for a book based around technology and cyber crime. This did not disappoint, the plot and characters where relatable, especially with the fears around privacy and technology taking control of our lives. I would definitely recommend this book.
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When I requested this book from NetGalley, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to be. I mean, of course, the basics of the plot were there, sort of. I wasn’t aware that this book was already published in German and this was to be a translated edition but that does not really affect my review, I think.

In an age where almost all of our interactions with people or sometimes even businesses with people happen online, this book is sure to connect with people and to a certain degree, it does. The convenience of technology and social media and the integration or rather ingratiation of it in our lives has always been a topic of mixed opinions. In Zero, we are given a darker and more advanced side of the technology we so readily depend on in our daily lives.

The story starts with a bang, that’s for sure. We see a news corporation and are introduced to many characters amongst which Cynthia is shown as our main character. The introduction to Zero is also pretty well done, if I am being honest. There’s that creepy vibe while we are reading that scene, really well done. In this book, the world is almost the same as we live in with just a bit more invasive technology.

In this world, we are told, the confidential information that many companies sometimes steal from us are actually sold willingly from the people themselves for a small profit. The information is then used to promote products and lifestyles according to the information and while that is very convenient and seems fabulous, there are as usual darker sides to the exchange. People forget to be themselves, rather they let themselves be directed by the companies/ firms that they sold information to.

Zero, the movement very much like Anonymous, has been making small waves in the world by then but it makes its presence known in a grand gesture when they control drones to follow the President of the United States and his family. There was no violence but it was not exactly a friendly encounter either. It was a statement from Zero, telling the world that they did have the power to move even further than they seemed capable of.

After this incident, Cynthia is given a crash course in the current technology and it is while she is becoming enlightened that she comes across something that could prove to be fatal for her. There comes a point when her life is in danger and she needs help, to trust someone but who can she trust in a world where people would willingly give up information in return for a little money?

This book scared me a little, I admit it because this does not seem very futuristic, in fact, there are already almost every technology out there like the ones mentioned in the book and there’s also a chance that an app like FreeMee could become part of our reality.

As far as the plot is concerned, it moves at an even pace and there’s so much going on that sometimes it was hard to keep track of it? However, once you manage that you would enjoy the book or be scared by it, depends on the person really. For me, it scared me a bit.

I only gave it three stars because there wasn’t much character development or even a deeper connection that I could find. It’s very important that I connect to the characters in a book no matter how awesome the plot is and that’s where it sort of failed. So, yeah, overall though this book is a bit scary and not really science fiction as much as I wish it was. I totally recommend to those who are interested in science fiction or thriller or mystery.
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Ironically enough, a couple of days before I started this book, I purchased a tracker watch. Would I have still bought it after reading this book, I honestly don't know? I have it set to remind me to try do 250 steps every hour and I did chuckle when it flashed up that I only needed 20-odd steps for my hour and I duly got up and had a wander. 
What has this got to do with anything...? Well, it forms the crux of what is happening in this book. Instead of data miners stealing data from internet footprints, people can now sign up to a new site called Freemee and sell the same data for money/credits. Along with this, users can also sign up for lifestyle advice. What to eat, where to go, how to act, who to be seen with, along with careers and studying advice for the younger users. Many people have had brilliant results from this but, there is always a darker side to technology and that is what the rest of the book is all about. People acting completely differently to their core personalities and the aftermath of those clashes. Shops and businesses going under cos they aren't flavour of the month with the apps. Zero is an underground movement, bubbling under for a while, but who crashes into the public eye after a very audacious drone strike (video not violence) on the President's family in an attempt to bring to the fore how this way of life is affecting people. We also meet Cynthia, an old school investigative journalist and a bit of a technophobe to boot. Certain information finds its way to her that puts her life in danger. But with everyone practically being sheep to Freemee, who can she really trust to help her expose the truth?
This book scared me a little. Coming shortly after the shenanigans with all the internet data stealing and selling on, coupled with all the electronics we now use and how much of ourselves we share online, the majority of which described in the book is all too credible. Yes I have a tracker watch but I signed up with an anonymous email. I have all my other privacy settings set max and my locations all inactive as much as I can but, blow me down, only this morning I was asked to review a place I had visited (but not shared on any platform) for lunch yesterday. Big brother is out there and watching! 
There was an awful lot going on in this book. Having four main "factions" all pushing in different but yet similar directions and overlapping quite a bit did make it, at times, a bit hard to follow but, I made my cast list (something I do often when I struggle) and things went easier from then on in.
All the technology described in the book is already out there in one form or another and it wouldn't be too hard to believe that some of the manipulative stuff depicted also exists. Even just the watch I wear can be extended to do more than just count my steps and track my sleep and it didn't really cost the earth. With so many people spending so much of their lives online, it's only a matter of time before the fiction in this book becomes reality. I hope by then that legislation has also caught up alongside it.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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If you do a quick Google search of yourself what are the results…? A link to your Facebook page, LinkedIn? An old news article? Images of yourself? Information that any stranger could easily find. How easily have you given away your information? How easily have you been bought? ZERO is based in a future that could become our reality, where people sell their information, stream their lives and follow recommendations from apps to increase their worth. But is it worth it? This is a great read full of intrigue, investigation, and harsh truth. Warning: Side effect of paranoia... may lead you to regret (maybe even attempt to delete) your digital footprint.
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At times I found this a little slow but overall I thought it was a very well written story based on a society that publicises everything. The creepy thing about this book is that we're not too far off from what happens in it. I'm glad that two of the main characters are strong, intelligent females.
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Zero is a technology-focused thriller about data, privacy, and software trying to change people's lives. Journalist Cynthia Bonsant knows little about technology, but when her daughter is tied up in a criminal chase that results in a friend's death, the answers lead back to Freemee, a lifestyle app that collects users' data and tries to improve their lives. At the same time, mysterious activist Zero is posting videos online warning about data and Freemee. As Cynthia gets caught up further in this web of data and surveillance, she becomes a target for what she knows, but it's hard to hide from CCTV and smart glasses.

The premise of the novel can seem quite Black Mirror-esque, though the narrative is far more standard thriller fare. The obvious modern relevance and questions about whether users actually care that their data is being harvested are interested ones, but the novel feels long and sluggish at times and it can be difficult to care what happens to the characters. A major issue is that though the book is only a few years old, the technology stuff already feels dated in light of subsequent discoveries about data mining, and the points about influencing elections are rather less scary than just how we live now.

Zero is a thriller with a tech-y edge and will appeal to fans of the genre. However, for people looking for something a bit more Black Mirror-like in narrative or more thoughtful, it is probably better to try I Still Dream, James Smythe's recent novel about a personal artificial intelligence with global ramifications.
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It’s scary to think just how much data is out there that gets sold and used and resold. Like The Circle, this book is also a cautionary tale about the perils of so much technology, and our ever-diminishing right to privacy.

While the content was great and thought provoking, I found it difficult to get into the story. I’m not sure if it was the writing or something getting lost in the translation, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. 

Thank you to Marc Elsberg, Random House (Doubleday) and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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