Epic Zero

Epic Zero

Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader

Children - Adventure
192 Pages
Reviewed on 08/09/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

By day, R.L. Ullman functions as a mild-mannered member of society. By night, he is an award-winning author who writes a never-ending battle for truth, justice and whatever he's feeling at the moment. He is a life-long fan of all things superhero and lives with his wife, kids and possibly evil cockapoo in Connecticut. You can learn more about what R.L. Ullman is up to at rlullman.com.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers' Favorite

What a fun read! I just finished Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by author R.L. Ullman, and I have to say, I loved it! The story follows young Elliot Harkness, whose entire family belongs to the Freedom Force, the world’s greatest superhero team. His entire family, that is, except for him. Much to his chagrin, Elliot does not possess any of the eight Meta-powers: energy manipulation, super speed, super strength, magic, flight, super intelligence, morphing, or psychic abilities. In his community of superheroes, that makes him a Meta: 0, or powerless. To himself, that makes him an Epic Zero. But when the mysterious girl, K’ami Solarr, appears one day, and seems to believe that there’s more to Elliot than meets the eye, well, that’s when things start to change.

I knew this was a great children’s/young adult book when my 11-year-old son kept trying to read it over my shoulder. The writing is perfect for kids, the pace is brisk, and storyline is exciting. I immediately drew connections from this book to the wonderful movie, The Incredibles, as the idea of superhero-ing families is the basis of both stories. But Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader is so much more. I loved Elliot, the main character, and his strong desire to be a hero. I loved the message of the book, that sometimes even those who don’t appear to be special on the surface may have deep talent that just needs to be discovered. I loved the illustrations that start each chapter; I just plain loved this book. This is a delightful read for children and tweens, even for children like my son who don’t always enjoy reading. I am so happy I got a chance to recommend R.L. Ullman’s newest work, and I look forward to reading more from him in the future!

Jack Magnus

Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader, Book One is an adventure tale for children and preteens written by R.L. Ullman. It's yet another birthday filled with disappointment for Elliott Harkness. Just like every birthday before this, he has not woken up with a single meta improvement, no amplification of his memory or strength, not even the most modest super power. Why, in a family of superheroes, is he the one who gets to be an epic nothing? As his family thinks he's getting ready for school, Elliott goes through the familiar and depressing annual routine of checking for flight, morphing ability, speed and strength with sadly predictable results. Belonging to a family that's a key part of the Freedom Force team should be exciting, but not for him. While Meta 3 power is awesome and the best there is, Elliott would be thrilled with even a bit of Meta 1 abilities and with the least exciting meta skill, but he remains a very unextraordinary twelve-year-old and most definitely a Meta Zero. His family did remember his birthday this year at least, but before he could even make a wish, they were off to fight crime, and he was stuck going to middle school.

R.L. Ullman's adventure tale for children and preteens, Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader, Book One, is an awesome and inspirational coming of age story filled with superheroes, arch villains and lots of action. My sympathy for the very normal Elliott was heightened when he discusses his mother's psychic abilities, and I suppressed a slight shudder at the thought of a parent who could literally read minds. This inventive story feels a lot like a graphic novel with marvelous illustrations of superheroes and villains. Ullman's meta heroes are fabulous, and the glossary at the back of the book detailing Meta Powers and Meta Profile Characteristics helps bring it all together. I was pleased to discover that this is book one in a series and am looking forward to the next installment. Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader, Book One is most highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by RL Ullman is about Elliott Harkness, who wakes up on his birthday, wondering if he has gained any powers. He wants nothing more than to be a part of The Freedom Force with his family. FF are the biggest team of superheroes in the world, but Elliott doesn’t seem to have any powers, being classified as a “Zero”. He is always left behind when his family go off to fight crimes and is the butt of a lot of teasing by his sister Grace. One day, a new girl appears at school called Cammie and she believes in Elliot. She thinks that Elliot is the only one who can take control of a strange orb that crash-landed on Earth and he must find it before the Skeltons and BloodBringers arrive. To get there, Elliot finds himself in the middle of an epic battle with a large number of superhero villains and aliens who want to take over the planet. Elliot is the last hope for Earth – will he succeed or will he doom the world to disaster?

Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader was a really good read. It may have been written for children but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it – so much so that I didn’t want to put it down! It also took me back to my younger days when my brother and I would pretend to be superheroes! I thought the story was very well told, full of action with no dull moments whatsoever. The characters are realistic, if you live in a world of superheroes, and they fit the story very well. Great book for kids of all ages and I daresay a few adults will enjoy it as well. It is an uncomplicated story with enough twists in it to make you really want to know what is going to happen next. I liked the addition of the illustrations describing some of the superheroes, and the glossary at the back was a nice touch. Really looking forward to book 2!

Francine Zane

Life is tough when you are the only normal human in a family of superheroes known as the Freedom Force. In Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by R.L. Ullman, Elliott Harkness celebrates each birthday by trying to determine if he has superpowers, and this birthday is just as disappointing as the last. He feels destined to be a Zero for the rest of his life until a new girl comes to town and shows him just how special he really is. Look out villains, here comes Elliot.

Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by R.L. Ullman is a fun read that does not talk down to children. Equal time is spent on action and analysis of the dastardly situations that Elliott finds himself in. He teaches children that even if you aren’t the biggest or the baddest, you can still use your brain to out think the enemy. I particularly appreciate that Ullman allows the parents to play a role in Elliott’s adventure when so many other kids’ books lead you to believe you cannot have an adventure with parental supervision. My only complaint about Epic Zero is that some of the kids’ dialogue is too grown up. I found myself forgetting that youngsters were fighting adult villains. I respect that Elliott is a smart kid, but he is still a kid, and I think he would be more relatable if he sounded more like a kid.

As if a good read wasn’t enough, Ullman goes that extra mile by adding illustrations and statistics about each hero and villain, as well as a Meta glossary of terms and superpowers and an explanation of the characteristics used to measure a hero’s or villain's Meta rating. These added features will appeal to those boys and girls who enjoy the science in science fiction.

Jessyca Garcia

Epic Zero by R.L. Ullman is a very entertaining read. Elliott Harkness is the only one in his family who does not have super powers. He is known as a “zero” and his only dream is to have super powers. When something unexpected happens to his superhero family, his new friend K’ami Sollar convinces him that only he can save the world.

With Epic Zero, Ullman reminds me of why I used to love superheroes. Each superhero in the book has a unique super power and costume. It is slightly similar to X-Men in that sense, but a lot more innocent and funny. A lot of people can identify with the main character, Elliott, and the desire to fit in. The different names that Ullman gave his superheroes and villains were funny and unique. My favorite character was Dog-Gone. He reminds me of my own dog the way he steals food. I loved that at the end of each chapter there is a superhero card stating their stats and whether they are a hero or a villain. At the end of the book, Ullman explains the eight different Meta powers and their classifications. This was a great help to me because I am a zero when it comes to superhero knowledge.

Epic Zero is the first book in a soon to be young adult series. If the other books are anything like this one, then the whole series will be great. I can see my 4-year-old daughter reading this in a few years. She is slightly obsessed with the show Super Why and I think that Epic Zero should be the next step into the superhero world. I recommend this book to any young adult who loves superheroes.