Published by Del Rey on August 18th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
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Published in rapid succession, Jason M. Hough’s first three novels, The Darwin Elevator, The Exodus Towers, and The Plague Forge, earned mountains of praise and comparisons to such authors as James S. A. Corey and John Scalzi. Now Hough returns with a riveting near-future spy thriller that combines the adrenaline of a high-octane James Bond adventure with mind-blowing sci-fi speculations worthy of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.
Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.
The Plot: Assassin finds out mind-blowing truth while on the job, gets an unexpected ally, and then forgets it all. Undercover agent attempts to find secret behind enemy’s light-years-ahead technology, gets caught up in an assassination attempt, and learns mind-blowing truth. Drama and action overload ensues, liberally sprinkled with twists and turns, as assassin and spy try to stay alive. And/or fulfill mission(s). Hopefully both.
The Characters: Peter Caswell is a top-secret asset, one whose best quality is his willingness to forget what he’s done while on assignment. He’s not your typical hero – he does kill for a living after all – but he does have a moral compass of sorts. And when he figures out who’s been pulling his strings all along – and why – Peter decides to do something about it. But how successful will he be, especially when “they” can reset his memory? (Note to self: It’s not a good idea to give anyone that much access into your brain. Ever.)
Melni Tavan was always one to blend in, carefully biding her time as she looked for her big break. There’ll only be the one chance, and she jumps when it appears. She doesn’t count on Peter being there to mess things up and has to adjust quickly, quicker than she’s normally comfortable with and in doing so finds herself a partner of sorts. But now what?
The Story: Zero World takes its time in getting to the action. We spend about 50 pages getting Peter to where he needs to be, and another 50 for him to flub his mission and mess up Melni’s. The next 300+ is the action and drama, twists and turns, and mind-blowing truth reveal.
Basically, there’s a lot going on in Jason M. Hough’s Zero World, and all of it’s good. Four-hundred-plus pages good. Pumpkin-pie-with-whip-cream-for-Thanksgiving, gorging-on-holiday-yummies, good. I was really happy with the character depth, the rich backdrop, and the complicated plot. Zero World is an engrossing action-thriller wrapped in complex layers that reads like my favorite Bond movie (and I LOVE my Bond movies, especially with Daniel Craig – yum!) met your favorite space adventure drama and had a baby. I cannot wait to revisit this world, but I guess I’ll settle for a re-read as soon as I get this review written. 😉
drey’s rating: Outstanding!
Have you read Zero World? What did you think?