Fiction Reviews


Zero Day

(2018) Ezekiel Boone, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, 315pp ISBN 978-1-473-21523-8

 

The world is on the brink of apocalypse

Zero Day Has Come

 

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer's theory that we need to kill only the queens. For President Stephanie Pilgrim it is an easy answer. She has gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder - and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don't agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what can be more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

First we had The Hatching, then we had the brilliantly named Skitter, the perfect way to describe spiders on the move, and now we have the final act, the last book in the trilogy, Zero Day. Clearly, there is no point starting here at book three. Thereís a lot of gruesome fun to be had starting from the beginning of The Hatching and reading on from there. Over the three books, Boone had demonstrated an ability to keep a multi-cast, worldwide plot moving at breakneck speed, setting up several cliff-hangers for his cast of characters. The story is not told in straightforward numbered, or titled chapters, but in 58 chapters that are really all over the place ranging from Peru to an island off the Scottish coast, as well as above the earth, on the oceans, and even in some undisclosed, top-secret locations.

The story starts slowly, with the world reeling from the events at the end of book two, but as the tension rises and the action racks up, the chapters shrink in size, becoming shorter and shorter until they are only a paragraph long in places, as we try and keep up with a myriad of unfolding world-wide storylines. While this makes Zero Day a sure fire page turner, some of the characters who have featured heavily in the previous books and taken part in some important plotlines that have driven the story, barely make an appearance here, usually just turning up in one of the world-wide strands to almost wave off page to the reader to show they are still alive, or they just appear to succumb to the spiders, and then there is an odd character who gets what they deserve. Hurrah!

As for the plot, well, despite levelling major US cities with nuclear warheads, the Hell Spiders are on the march again, and President Stephanie Pilgrim is under pressure to let the missiles fly once more and nuke whatís left of her country. She would rather find another solution. But the pressure is on. Time is running out, not just for the planet, but for the Presidentís leadership as the Hawks are gathering, and if she wonít make a decision, they will. The race is on to combine science and technology and save the day ahead of a nuclear solution.

While not as tight a novel as the previous two entries in the series, Zero Day does bring the trilogy to a very enjoyable end, and I look forward to seeing whatever Boone comes up with next, presumably his spider-phase is behind him now.

Ian Hunter


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