Nexus: Zeroes, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Nexus: Zeroes, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Superpowered teens hit New Orleans in superior thriller.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Offers an unusual take on teen superheroes. Could lead to discussion of how great power comes with great responsibility. Uses Mardi Gras in New Orleans as a setting.

Positive Messages

With great power comes great responsibility. Manipulating people is wrong. Friends need to stick together when faced with adversity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each of the Zeroes wants to be able to use his or her power without hurting anyone else. Their actions, however, all have unexpected consequences. They each learn something important about themselves and how other people see them.

Violence

Although some characters are preparing for an apocalypse, there's not a lot of violence, and description of mayhem is generally understated. A character uses her powers to stop another character's heart.

Sex

Ethan has a crush on Sonia and eventually embarks on a romance with her. Two young women are overheard while making love. One character has the ability to make himself irresistible.

Language

Variants of "f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," and "s--t" used infrequently (up to five or six times); "damn" and "hell" appear more frequently, up to a dozen times each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where people drink. The main characters, however, don't indulge.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nexus: Zeroes, Book 3 concludes the tale of teen superheroes begun in Zeroes, written by Scott Westerfeld (UgliesAfterworlds) in collaboration with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. The book is more thoughtful than many about the consequences of wielding superpowers. It contains scenes of violence -- someone kills an enemy by stopping her heart -- but the description of the mayhem is generally understated. Strong language includes five or six uses of variants of  "f--k" and "s--t"; "hell" and "damn" appear more frequently, up to a dozen times each. The book is set during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so people are drinking, but not the main characters. Sexual content ranges from a suddenly reciprocated crush to a love scene between two young women overheard by others.

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What's the story?

The opening of NEXUS finds the Zeroes in desperate straits, with Nate in a supposedly escape-proof prison and the rest of the gang on the run from the FBI, accused of domestic terrorism. Beyond their own problems, there's trouble brewing in New Orleans, where the growing crowds fuel the cataclysmic powers of a new young prodigy. Staying one step ahead of the authorities, Nate, Ethan, Riley, Thibault, Kelsie, and Chizara must reckon with their own phenomenal abilities as they fight to prevent a local mob from transforming into a global disaster.

Is it any good?

Readers want more from a superhero trilogy than just a big fight at the end, and this clever take on psychic teenagers delivers a winning series of last-minute revelations and resolutions. Co-authors Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti waste no time kicking off the action, while emphasizing that it's the weird, tragic, and funny interplay between the disparate characters that makes this series special.

Because the authors withhold the nature of the monumental threat in New Orleans for a while, the opening chapters feel slightly unfocused. But that's a quibble. Nexus brings the trilogy to a highly satisfying conclusion, full of action, suspense, and heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Nexus portrays characters with superpowers. Why are superhero stories so popular now? What aspects of the genre especially appeal to readers and moviegoers?

  • How does Nexus demonstrate that with great power comes great responsibility? How do the Zeroes put the needs of others before their own?

  • What role does violence play in Nexus? Why are crowds often dangerous, and how can a change of mood affect them so easily?

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