A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zeroes is a clever -- if somewhat overlong -- take on teen superheroes. It's the first installment of a series, written by Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and Afterworlds in collaboration with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. The level of violence is low, limited mostly to threats, chases, and gunfire, with little actual bloodshed. Strong language includes a sprinkling of variants of "f--k" and "s--t" and more frequent use of "damn," "hell," "bastard," "dick," and "bitch." Two characters flirt, kiss, and cuddle.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ethan, known to his friends as "Scam," has a power that often does him more harm than good. His special voice says the things people want to hear, whether they're true or not. When the voice takes over during a bank robbery, Ethan must call on the other "Zeroes" to rescue him. His superpowered allies include a girl who can destroy tech hardware and software with her mind, a guy whose very existence is hard to remember, a crowd controller, and a young woman who sees through the eyes of others. When Ethan runs afoul of the police and drug dealers alike, the Zeroes have to put aside their differences to save him.
Is it any good?
Everyone wants to be a superhero these days, but this fat, clever thriller/caper novel demonstrates the downsides of being unusually gifted. Authors Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti write together seamlessly, moving the story forward with short, punchy chapters that offer various viewpoints.The mix of superpowers in ZEROES is unusual and interesting, and the characters are engaging and well delineated. Unfortunately, the plot drags a little in the middle, when it feels as if the characters are merely going over the same ground to up the page count.
However, the narrative eventually builds to a nail-biting race against time, and this inaugural volume of a series is likely to leave most readers primed for a second helping.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why stories about superheroes are so popular. How are they treated differently in various genres, from comics to movies to novels?
If you could have a superpower, which one would it be? Would it have drawbacks as well as benefits?
Do you ever feel out of control of your emotions? What actions do you take to calm yourself?
- Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: September 29, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 560
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.