Published: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Sci Fi
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
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.
After months of not purchasing a physical copy of this book I used one of my Audible credits to get Zero World by Jason M. Hough. My first thought was “WOW. This narrator has a great voice!”. Gideon Emery has a really rich voice and while I’m not sure of his native accent, his variety is wonderful. Initially, Zero World comes off as a futuristic spy/assassin novel, which is right up my alley because I kind of have an obsession with books/tv series of this nature. As I got into the book a little further, I realized that its way more complicated than that. It’s got mysterious Earth-like planets, God-complexes, worm holes, and everything!
Peter Caswell, the super spy missing his guilty conscience and his memory is sent off on another mission right after completing one. This is definitely not the usual protocol, but he’s a loyal ARCHON employee so he goes along with it. This predictably leads to way more excitement than he was expecting, but he was warned that “this will be the most interesting mission you’ll ever forget”. I liked Peter- he was talented, thorough, and confident—every bit the futuristic spy I was expecting. During his mission to kill the missing scientist Alice Vale, he meets a native spy named Melni. Melni is an outsider of her society, one the Desoers, named such because they fled from the region of the planet desolated by meteor strikes. She has a mission similar to Caswell’s so they join together to accomplish what they’ve both set out to do. Of course everything gets much more complicated.
This is one of the most exciting stories I’ve read recently as far as adrenaline rushes and high-impact action go. It kept me thoroughly entertained the entire time as Caswell and Melni rushed pell-mell to seemingly every corner of the planet Gartien. Each character had relatively equal contributions to the mission- Melni, though not surgically enhanced, was a top rate agent and had the advantage of local knowledge while Caswell and his implant had a clear combat advantage. The two made a delightful team and refreshingly, they didn’t fall in love with each other (YES!). There were a few revelations toward the end of the story that I was blindsided by and I thought they were a little weird, but they really open the way for an expanded plot in forthcoming novels. Can I say how much I’m looking forward to a sequel?!
I really loved this book and would highly recommend this for fans of James Bond, Jason Bourne, or any spy or action based fiction! It was stellar! Or should I say interstellar? Super fun, great anytime read. Its plot was complex and detailed without being overwhelming or fuzzy.