Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig

Been a good week for reading.  Finished up re-reading the Wheel of Time series,a year long endeavor that  I was beginning to think I would never finish, and then moved on to Zeroes by Chuck Wendig.

I actually started Zeroes about a year ago and didn't really like it at the time so I set it aside.  After I finished Memory of Light I was looking for something to read besides How to Measure Anything in Cybersecurity Risk and Industrial Network Security (along with the ongoing Electric Power Systems Basics and Lights Out) so I picked it up again.  This time I was a bit more in the mood so I knocked it out this week.

At it's most basic Zeroes is a cyber thriller.  Five hackers / crackers / social engineers / cipherpunks are gatherd up by the government and dumped into a secret NSA facility where they encounter a rogue government program that threatens everyones personal liberty and their lives.  They escape, a battle ensues, they lose, regroup, try again and win.

Standard stuff.

The originality comes from the nature of the villain, it's an AI and how it is defeated.

Overall the story isn't bad.  The characters are a little tropey and flat, none of them are sympathetic in the least except for the Syrian Arab working to bring down the Assad regime.  She is pure of heart, has a plucky spirit and a can do (as well as Anti-American) SJW attitude.  Amazingly she isnt the main protagonist.

The story really starts to fall flat with the actual technology.  I am willing to suspend a lot of disbelief but not to some of the levels that Wendig required in order to accept this story.  I'm sorry remote communication requires some form of electromagnetic transmitter and you cant just reprogram a brain by drill a hole and jamming a wire in there.

(In case you haven't guessed I am trying to avoid too many spoilers)

Still even with that the book isn't horrible.  I'd give it a 3 to 3.5 out of 5.  It's an easy read if you are in the thriller mood. Mostly the pacing is good. I think he tries to hit on a few too many social hot buttons but it wasn't overwhelming.
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