"Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall."
Title: Zero Repeat Forever
Author: Gabrielle Prendergast
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 29, 2017
Genre: Young adult, science fiction
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
He has no voice or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.
Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.
His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.
Until a human kills her…
Sixteen-year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her fellow campers can only stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless, but what choice does she have?
Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.
Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other.
I'm quite taken aback by how much I loved Zero Repeat Forever. It delivers everything one would hope for from a science fiction involving an alien invasion:
-aliens (of course)
-weird alien suits and weapons
-lots of frightening post-apocalyptic scenarios that make you ponder the fragility of the human race
-some spunky kids who are fighting terrible odds of survival but never quit
But what I didn't expect at all was the beauty I would find within the pages. It was poetry; surprisingly deep, melancholy, and poignant. It really caught me off guard how intensely emotional it was, and how much it would affect me. The writing style was addicting in a gut-wrenching way; full of intensity and rage and sadness.
It took me a few chapters to get used to the slower pacing, but soon I realized that the tension doesn't always lie in the action scenes. It's often more a dark psychological thriller that explores themes of human nature and survival. I did feel like the concept was a little generic at first but it's explored in a very unique way, giving insight to both the POV of an alien invader and a conquered human girl. There are also several mind-blowing twists at the end that completely changed how I saw the story at the start so it's really worth hanging on to the end, I swear! And I gasped out loud when I found out what the title means.
The story is strongly driven by well thought-out characters who are not always likeable but nonetheless striking in their complexity. We are given a look at humanity that's been peeled back a few layers due to trauma, loss, and heartbreak. I was surprised that I felt the most pathos for Eighth, the alien POV character. He was so pure and childlike and human in his outlook, and my heart broke for him on so many occasions. There is a lot of diversity as well and touches on themes of racism and prejudice.
One of the most exciting aspects for me that I need to mention is that it is written by a fellow Canadian and takes place near Calgary, Alberta. It's so rare to find a Canadian setting in YA and Prendergast does it so much justice in capturing the wild beauty of our country through all four seasons. Also there is this amazing and so very accurate line:
"He just apologized. He does that a lot."
"How very Canadian."
The book was so close to perfect but there were just a few awkward moments and phrases between characters that I didn't love or agree with. Some people may take a bit of an issue with some of these little phrases but I was able to move past them to see the greater picture of the story. However for this reason I have taken off half a star.
All in all it was a very strong start to a new series? trilogy? I'm not really sure so I better do some fact-checking. The ending was such a tease with an incredible cliff hanger and I'm burning to get my hands on book two so I can find out how the story will continue.
Until next time,