Book Review: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0es‘ blurb does a decent job setting up the premise:

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.
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.

But there’s at least one big twist – and one that makes a good degree of sense – that awaits you in this book. Like most of Wendig’s work, the book is fast-paced, full of action, and just enough wry and nasty humor for a nice seasoning.

The degree of forethought and twists reminded me of Donald J. Bingle’s work – in GREENSWORD, Forced Conversion, and Net Impact (full disclosure: I published Net Impact).  In these near-future thrillers, the tech is new enough and the turns logical and surprising at the same time.

Zer0es does have a lot of protagonists, though, and while Wendig does a good job differentiating them, the sheer number of them left me trying to keep track of who was who in the first third of the book. Wendig’s habit of switching between using both first and last names in the narrative portions of the text made this harder.

A good fun near-future sci-fi read.

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