[Review w/ Top Quotes] Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

I read this while it was free on RivetedLit.com and I'm SO happy I did. I hadn't even heard of this book until I saw it on there, which is ridiculous since I'm a huge Scott Westerfeld fan.

Series: Zeroes #1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Superheroes
Age: YA
Format: Ebook, 560 pgs.
Source: Free on RivetedLit.com
Rating: 4 Stars
Recommendable? Yes
CW: Kidnapping, Drugs, Violence
Don’t call them heroes.

But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.

Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.

Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.

Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series.

Young Adult IconAction/Adventure IconSci-Fi IconDiverse IconPage-Turner PostrsRefreshing Icon

The Good The Bad & The Other
+Fantastic take on superpowers, each have their own unique twist & affects their lives accordingly -+Stupid teenagers being stupid (both good & bad)
+Characters are pitch perfect -Ending is underwhelming
+Loved the switching perspectives -Didn’t like how Kelsie’s father plot line went
+Loved the character progression
+Loved slowly unraveling what happened to break the group up
+Loved the last conversation and line
+Lots of action

I hadn't heard of Zeroes before, how I don't know, but I jumped at the chance to read it for free on RivetedLit.com. I've loved Scott Westerfeld's previous work, but had never heard of Margo Lanagan or Deborah Biancotti. Now I'm really curious about their work and plan on checking it out Soon™.

Zeroes starts with Ethan, aka Scam, creating a hot mess. Nate, aka Bellweather, brings the crew back together to save Scam's sorry ass. Amid non-stop action and drama, we learn their powers, dynamics, and why they're no longer friends.

Scam's Voice ability pales in comparison to his stupidity. The Zeroes jump from problem to problem and Scam keeps fucking up along the way. As annoying as he can be with his whining, self-pitying, and irresponsibility, it's NOT his fault Kelsie's dad is in the mess. Her dad would've been fucked anyways. But Scam's dick takes the lead and proves he's stupid no matter which head is in charge.

Okay, maybe that's not totally fair but his attraction to Kelsie does propel the second half of the plot with the mobsters.

Kelsie gets dragged into it by trying to help her scumbag dad. I understand the fear not knowing what's going to happen to you and your future but I don't get why she saved her dad...It's okay to let toxic family members go and sinking yourself, your life into saving them isn't a virtue. And I'm really tired of it being touted as one.

He's a shitty drug dealing con-artist. He doesn't deserve death by mob, no one does, but I'd have just called the cops and sent everyone to jail. Saving him from jail does nothing but make all the Zeros criminals without a defense.

As it stands, they all got away with everything. It's hardly satisfying. The Zeroes should've listened to Crash and worked on saving their butts. I understand saving Scam because he got in trouble with his powers and couldn't have gone to the police but they should've been smarter about it.

Okay, so they're a group of stupid teens and act like it. Even with the not-that-satisfying ending, I kinda love it for this. They're saving two con-artists, one who robs a bank and is a first degree murderer (by definition of CA law, doesn't matter if he didn't pull the trigger). Why? Because of personal ties and in the case of saving Kelsie's dad to date/recruit her.

This sounds like a start of a group of villains. Good intentions don't mean shit and at least one of them realizes that. I'm interested to see how this continues and works out. Glorious Leader clearly had plans...but what kind?

Though I have some issues with the why's behind the tale, I did enjoy this fresh take on powers, teens with those powers, and being a hero. They’re authentic growing teens and fuck up accordingly. Each grows in their own way and their group evolves with them.


My favorite characters were Teebo/Anon, Riley/Flicker, and Chizara/Crash. I didn't have any problems switching between all their POVs and loved the little tidbits gleamed from it. Sure, I have my favorites but each brought something solid to narrative and story.

I grew to appreciate all the characters, even those I didn't particularly like by the end.

Scam's backstory really helped his character and he has fantastic progression at the end. I'm really proud of him, though he still needs some work. I have a theory about his power too...

Kelsie/Mob was defined by her relationship with her father and her group-addicted ways. While she didn't grow as much or as independently as I would have liked, she still did grow as a person. It was just hard to like her after she found out how far her father had sunk and still went forward on the same path. But I like how she deals with Scam and the group.

Riley/Flicker was defined by her power, sister and love interests. It took a while for the full scope of her and Nate's relationship to come to light and I liked how they both handled themselves. Her feelings towards Anon and her sister was adorable. I give major props for how she tracked him down and remembered him.

Nate/Bellweather alternated between the blandest character and the creepiest. His powers, his use of them, and his secret agenda were the main cause behind the latter and the former was just his bossy, back-seat driving. Later he gets his ass out there and puts in some work though.

Chizara/Crash: I loved her thoughts, her morals, her consequence and her family from beginning to end. She kicked ass and though I loved every minute of her narrative, I'm glad I got all their perspectives. Not sure if I could've stuck it out without the rest of them because POV's brought a lot of insight.

Teebo/Anon: The way his power affects him is just heartbreaking and it's awesome how he tries to use it. His philosophy on life doesn't feel fake or forced, he works at being Zen. He does screw up but it was mostly out of his control and I'm sure he'll work on making it right.

The best part about them though was the twists of the supernormal abilities and how it affected their upbringing, their personalities, and morals. I don't want to spoil it but I'm in love with how grounded it is. Ethan/Scam is the only whiny "I'm doooomed. It's a cuuuuurse" of the bunch while the others are more nuanced and balanced. Once Ethan's past is revealed though it becomes understandable and his character progression redeems him.

"Of course, all those questions were based on bullshit assumptions. Maybe one in ten blind kids bothered learning braille these days. Her parents didn't understand that braille meant big clunky books that marked you as different, while audiobooks lived invisibly on your phone and text-to-voice speech gave you the whole damn internet."

"'I see you!' giggled Flicker. 'You totally look like a cleaner!'
Maybe to you, white girl, though Crash drily."

"Even so, his eyes kept trying to slide away, like the guy was visual oil."

"What a waste, using her talents this way. Like a brain surgeon clubbing seals."

"Nate liked money. It was a sleek and clever invention, beautiful in the way it lubricated power and focused people's attention. But it has a clumsy, brutal side too. Monday bludgeoned people without it into silence, shut them away in neighborhoods like this.

Nate knew that anyone who rose to power had to take one side or another in that contest of meanings. But he hadn't decided which one suited him yet."

"Chizara knew she was supposed to be scared, but the supervillain/ part of her refused to take them seriously. Such standard-issue thugs. Did they have no imagination?"


If you want superhero action with a fresh take on powers and dynamic people, Zeroes is highly recommended.

Have you read any of these authors? Any recs for someone new to Lanagan and Biancotti's books?


  1. this sounds like a great read. I have kind of passed it by but seems entertaing and something different than what I have been reading. I will give it a try. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. I'm so glad my review helped! Can't wait to hear what you think after you read it :D


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