Hello, dear Reader. I’ve managed to squeeze some time into writing a different kind of book review. This one is for a novel I’ve had for … ahem … well, quite some time. It’s been available since August 2014. Sigh. And I finished reading it back in February. I’m sharing these details to simply illustrate that, yes, I’m rather slow at reading and reviewing. But without further adieu, here’s (finally) my review. Enjoy!
Sarah leaned over and dropped the softcover book onto Michael’s lap. He grunted, startled out of his half-dozing state, his eyes still itchy from too little sleep. He picked up the book and for a second conflated the book’s cover with what he had seen through his telescope only a few hours before.
“A book.” Sarah turned her attention to her hot coffee, avoiding the sight of Michael rolling his eyes. She waited for him to follow his question and her pathetic sarcasm with “What I mean is … .” But instead he waited as she focused attention on her coffee, by turns sipping and blowing on it. She thought to herself, wasn’t it ironic that on a hot day (almost 80 and not even 9 am), she’d be sitting in her cutoffs and a thin white T-shirt, the humidity creeping up her neck and into her thick hair, with a cup of hot coffee before her.
Michael sighed and looked again at the book. He definitely liked the cover. He leafed through it for a few moments and then looked sharply at Sarah, who now was flipping through the pages of a knitting magazine.
“I didn’t know you liked science fiction.”
“Well, I didn’t know you liked chick-lit.” Sarah smiled as she remembered that evening when she learned that the hard-bodied Marine read novels.
Michael leaned back in his chair, lifted his legs, and rested his feet beside Sarah. He waited. Eventually, Sarah would fill the void. She always did.
“Okay, well, I did like Star Trek, at least the series with Captain Picard, and I liked Firefly … you know, that series that Fox stupidly took off the air … well, I heard about this novel by J.S. Collyer. That it was kind of like Firefly but better since we don’t have to worry about anyone canceling it.”
“So you read this already?”
“Of course! I wouldn’t give you a book that I hadn’t already vetted.” Sarah put her coffee down and leaned toward Michael. “So, this novel has space pirates, and they’re being infiltrated by a government guy. He feels like he’s being punished because he essentially disobeyed orders in order to save some lives, but it’s more complicated than that.”
“Isn’t Life always more complicated than that?” Michael shifted so he could better see how the sunlight brought out the red in Sarah’s hair. Sometimes it looked like she wore a halo of roses.
“Yes, dear, Life is complicated. But that’s one of the many things I enjoyed about Zero. Great character development. Hugo the government guy is sent to captain the Zero. He’s an ass at first, but I think he eventually redeems himself. Webb, his lieutenant, is reckless but smart. Only they don’t trust each other. Hugo thinks he’s always right, and Webb has seen too many captains make too many mistakes. The whole crew reads like a list of misfits who finally found a home: smart, dedicated, but outsiders. And trust is a big, big issue in this novel. Earning it, and losing it.”
“Like in the military where everyone is dependent upon everyone else for survival? Band of brothers and all that?”
“I suppose. I wasn’t in the military.” Sarah took Michael’s left foot and began to massage it, but absently. She had a tendency to be flippant, a characteristic she knew annoyed Michael. She was trying to curb it. Michael was trying to let it slide when she failed.
“Yes, obviously you weren’t. Still, how far does this go?”
“Oh, the trust issues are all over the place. There’s a whole conspiracy that Hugo isn’t even aware of, and the reader is taken along for that ride as well. You don’t know until Hugo knows what the hell is going. It’s a fast-paced novel, too. Collyer really knows how to keep the action going, and the worlds she creates are amazing. They are so familiar, with the industrial ghettos, people living and working under Dickensian conditions while, on other planets, the well-to-do live very well indeed. She integrates futuristic technology with contemporary mechanics: spaceships and motorcycles.”
“She?” Michael was now leaning forward, and Sarah just realized that his feet had slipped to the floor of their deck, her hands massaging air. She dropped her hands and squinted at Michael.
“Yes, she. What? Big tough Marine can’t imagine a woman writing an action-packed, character and plot-driven novel?”
Michael laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. He hoped it would not be too much longer before Sarah would understand he thought more highly of women than of his own sex.
“Of course, I can. But it piques my interest a bit more.” Michael leaned back and brought his right foot up to rest on Sarah’s lap. Without hesitation, she began to knead. He opened the book again, to the first page.
“So, is this part of a series?”
“Yup, she’s coming out with another installment quite soon. Called Haven. You’ll understand the title once you’ve read Zero.”
Sarah laughed. “That would be wonderful, but actually I would prefer Zero as a TV series. Easily, this novel could be one whole season. So much happens, and when you get to the end, you just want it to keep going. You’ll be so entangled in the lives of Hugo, Webb, Rami, Kinjo … you want to know what happens next. It can’t be the end of the story. Like with Firefly. There’s still so much to tell … .”
Sarah’s voice trailed off as she realized Michael was no longer listening. He was reading.
The same will happen to you, dear Reader, when you pick up a copy of Zero and start reading. You’ll quickly lose yourself in the fantastic worlds of Zero. And while you’re at it, follow Collyer’s blog at The Path, where she also shares some flash and short fiction as well.