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Zeroes: A Novel

Zeroes: A Novel

4.3 6
by Chuck Wendig

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An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring


An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wendig (Blackbirds) piles on the thrills and chills in this fast-paced near-future novel about human frailty and inhuman ambition. Five American hackers grabbed by the Feds are given a choice: a jail sentence, or a job working on a secret NSA program run by the mysterious Typhon. The diverse hackers—a morally indifferent thrill seeker, an activist hacking for the Arab Spring, a teen vigilante, a multitalented smart-ass who steals in order to escape the streets, and an aging conspiracy theorist—are united only by their lack of trust in one another and the government. Their suspicions about the government’s motives increase when their individual missions, breaking into the computers of different companies, start to feel connected. Now the hackers need to figure out Typhon’s true identity and motivation, preferably before Typhon is done using them. While the major revelations are easy to see coming, Wendig wields the tools of suspense and tension with skill. His large cast of characters is entertaining, the moments of horror are sharp and chilling, and the story races to a breathless conclusion. This is a promising opening to a new series for SF thriller fans. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Aug.)
The Independent
“Wendig writes hard and fast and this is a slick noirish thriller.”
Financial Times
“Wendig’s second novel is a splendidly profane slice of urban fantasy—hard, dark and fast. Slick one-liners and laugh-out-loud descriptions pepper the prose, macking Blackbirds a black comedy that even the Grim Reaper could smile at.”
James Moran
“A gleefully dark, twisted road trip for everyone who thought Fight Club was too warm and fuzzy. I loved it, and will be seeking professional help as soon as Chuck lets me out of his basement.”
Daniel H. Wilson
“With complex characters and feverishly paced action, ZEROES is a sci-fi thriller that won’t stop blowing your mind until the last page. ... It left me rooting for the hackers!”
Scott Sigler
“ZERØES turns ones and zeroes into pure gold - Wendig hacks the action thriller.”
Ramez Naam
“A sci-fi surveillance thriller with a twisted heart of creepy horror. It grabs you by the throat on page one, and never lets go.”
Wall Street Journal
“ZEROES is a very powerful development of the idea of science as magic, with a cast of unwitting sorcerors’ apprentices. It asks a lot of real-world questions, both moral and practical.... It might make you nostalgic for Mr. Gibson’s “Neuromancer”: Life was so much simpler back in the ‘80s.”
“[A] high-octane blend of nervy characters, dark humor and bristling dialogue... smart, timely, electrifying.”
Library Journal
Five hackers are picked up separately by government agent Hollis Copper and offered a one-time-only deal: work for the National Security Agency (NSA) or go to jail. The five have little in common—Aleena is an Arab Spring activist, DeAndre a clever thief, Chance a poser hacker, Wade an old-school conspiracy nut, and Reagan an online troll—but they are forced to work together when they are dropped at a secret location called the Lodge. Their individual missions to hack various companies seem connected, and they start putting together evidence that the government is using them to test a new computer called Typhon. As they near the truth, the hackers become a threat to the people who are trying to manipulate them. VERDICT This new novel from Wendig, whose Miriam Black books (Blackbird; Mockingbird) are coming to TV soon, is highly cinematic and should appeal to fans of technothrillers. The story line develops in less plausible directions as it leaves the lodge and the truth about Typhon comes out, but by then readers are probably along for the ride.—MM
Kirkus Reviews
A group of co-opted hackers discovers a secret government experiment gone terribly wrong.Prolific sci-fi novelist and games enthusiast Wendig (Under the Empyrean Sky, 2013, etc.) whips up a Matrix-y bit of old-school cyberpunk updated to meet the frightening technology of the modern age. Government agent Hollis Copper is a tough old guy who's been seconded to the National Security Agency to round up a bunch of hackers for a secret project. [They're an odd bunch. Chance Dalton is an Anonymous poser who uses dark Web tactics to out evildoers. DeAndre Mitchell uses ATM skimmers to pay for his mom's house. Aleena Kattan uses her wicked code-breaking skills in the name of hacktivism in support of the Arab Spring. Reagan Stolper is a foulmouthed, ill-tempered troll who ruins lives in the name of "lulz." Finally, there's Wade Earthman, a Vietnam vet skilled in the dark arts of phishing and phreaking. They're promised clean records if they devote a year to the NSA's secret lodge, where pods of hackers work together to penetrate high-security networks. Things go awry when they're charged with disrupting Iran's nuclear program by co-opting an Iranian drone and accidentally discover a secret NSA program called Typhon and the disappearance of 13 prominent theorists. The "Zeroes" find themselves pawns in a conflict among their government captors, a renegade hacker called The Widow of Zheng, and Typhon, a sentient artificial intelligence which is growing in power and influence with every passing minute. "Because they have to be willing to accept us," it says. "Because sometimes the child has to touch the hot stove to learn why he shouldn't do it again. Because in chaos, there is opportunity." This is an ambitious, bleeding-edge piece of speculative fiction that combines hacker lore, wet-wired horror, and contemporary paranoia in a propulsive adventure that's bound to keep readers on their toes. An action-packed yet cerebral thriller that lives in that murky nexus between today and the future.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Chuck Wendig is the author of the Miriam Black thrillers (which begin with Blackbirds) and numerous other works across books, comics, games, and more. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.

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ZerOes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the characters...okay, fairly good plot...but poorly written. Way too many points of view. So many descriptive phrases and words I wanted to red line them out. The computer jargon wasn't accurate and the characters dialog was just plain off. Maybe a great editor could take this book apart and rewrite pretty much everything and you'd have a novel that made sense. Too much effort, think I'll move on to another author. Jp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heck of a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yup. Like the minecraft song ones and zeros. "London bridge was falling down, falling down, falling down. London brigde was falling down my fair lady. Tak the *** and lock her up, lock he up, lock her up. Take the *** and lock he up, my fair lady".