Zero One

Fiction - Dystopia
264 Pages
Reviewed on 02/27/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Zero One by Nicholas Nicolaides is a riveting dystopian novel that hits very close to home. Set during the time of a pandemic, lockdown, and blackout, this story will have you zipping through the pages to find out what happens with this wide-ranging cast of characters and situations. As you read, you can't help but place yourself in their shoes, wondering how you would react and what you would do. This author knows how to carve out memorable characters and predicaments, and then follow through with clever plot points. I appreciate the cynical sense of humor throughout the novel--sometimes that's the most natural response to have. Deadly viruses, drones, and isolation are in full force, and if these things bother you, then that's good. This author has done his job.

Nicolaides has crafted a story that you hope will never happen, and so convincingly that you think it could. His writing is intelligent, thought-provoking, but above all, entertaining. You get the feeling he really enjoys writing for an audience, and you won't be disappointed. In fact, you could very well become an instant fan as this is a whopping debut novel. This book is well-paced if not challenging, but so rewarding if you can keep up with everything going on. As in life, this story is sometimes told in snapshots or snippets, but it all dovetails together in a satisfying way. The focus is more on plot than characterization, but that makes it even more realistic. Sometimes you encounter people in your life that you don't know well, or that you meet for only a brief but intense moment, then life moves on to the next thing. If you like techno-thrillers on a global scale, this one is for you. Don't be surprised if you find out a production company has picked it up for development at some point in the future. Fans of Black Mirror will love Zero One by Nicholas Nicolaides.

Pikasho Deka

Zero One is a dystopian sci-fi novel written by Nicholas Nicolaides. Ali is a precocious ten-year-old who wins multiple gaming competitions that gain him entry to the ultimate virtual reality Game, otherwise only accessible to the few wealthiest elite. When his mother locks him out of the Game, Ali devises a desperate plan. As a plethora of players find themselves hooked on the Game, an unforeseen pandemic spreads throughout the planet, causing panic and mass hysteria. The proliferation of the virus results in nation-wide lockdowns and strict government regulations involving the usage of Intelligent Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (IUAV)s by law enforcement agencies, allowing them to use lethal force against anyone breaking lockdown protocols without a permit.

A fascinating thrill ride from start to finish, Zero One perfectly encapsulates the environment of the current COVID-19 pandemic and blends it with a pulsating narrative and sci-fi elements inspired by the likes of I, Robot and 1984. A rich, dense, and unsentimental portrayal of the ramifications of the dependence on unsupervised technology, Nicholas Nicolaides's sci-fi epic feels as ambitious as it seems grounded in reality. There are many characters as Nicholas Nicolaides tells the story seamlessly through a multiple POV narrative and never lets it get bogged down by the number of factions or the sheer scale of the story. I think Zero One is a thrilling page-turner that any sci-fi reader would enjoy.

Vincent Dublado

A dystopian novel with impeccable timing, Zero One by Nicholas Nicolaides is a story about a mega-corporation that has created a largely successful virtual reality game that is simply known as The Game. Managed by a group composed of members with diverse nationalities, the corporation boasts that the immersive game caters to the privileged class and that the average earnings for top players of The Game surpass those of top Formula 1 drivers. This makes it a darling for its investors and stakeholders. As it faces the problem of a virus outbreak that threatens to decrease their projected targets, the pressing issues of AI-driven drones come to the forefront, as their intelligent, automated minds quickly identify that humanity is safer if the infected are terminated immediately.

Zero One is a fast-paced novel that science fiction fans can devour in one sitting. Its short chapters give you a glimpse of the lives of the major players in The Game as well as those of its creators. You then get an idea of how their lives are intertwined as VR players, and how they are trying to survive the airborne virus and the drones on a witch hunt for suspected virus carriers. You might find it overwhelming to get invested in multiple characters, as their backstories along with tech ideas and the fusion of real and virtual scenes are a bit challenging to keep up with. But Nicholas Nicolaides masterfully creates a conclusion where everything meets at a certain point. A novel that reads like it is the offspring of 1984 and Ready Player One, Zero One will give you a feel of a possible future that could happen involving a pandemic and virtual reality.

Maureen Dangarembizi

Zero One by Nicholas Nicolaides is a futuristic dystopian tale relevant to our times. A new airborne virus whose origin is unknown is ravaging the planet. A lockdown is implemented and a new drone technology is introduced to control the masses. Everyone has to stay inside or they may be killed or disappear without a trace. For most people, the only way to alleviate the boredom is to play The Game. The Game allows users to enter a virtual world that looks and feels all too real. After all the stress, it’s sometimes hard to come back to the real world. But strange things are happening in The Game, causing injuries that should have only taken place in the virtual world. Meanwhile others try to survive in a world where resources are suddenly at a premium.

Zero One takes our current situation with the novel corona virus and adds some real juice to the plot. It made me thankful that things haven’t gotten worse in the real world, at least for now. I enjoyed this book as it not only highlights how the highfliers and the poorer communities deal with difficult circumstances. This is only the first book but it’s very involved and easy to relate to. Fans of IRobot will like this book. I really try to be open-minded about advances in technology but sometimes I feel like human beings may be wading into dangerous waters as we try to improve our way of life. This book tries to teach us to at least tread carefully as we learn new things. It’s questionable if we are able to learn. Nicholas Nicolaides is a talented writer who will leave you gasping for more, even to the last word.

Rabia Tanveer

Zero One by Nicholas Nicolaides is set in a time that is not much different from ours. Much like everyone else, Ali is hooked to The Game. This virtual reality game is everything he ever wanted to do as the top players make money that most people from Ali's class can only dream of. However, a deadly virus has devastated life as we know it, and people are forced to stay inside. With all illusions of normalcy shattered, people do whatever it takes to feel normal again. The government was not above using brutal force against the people who break the lockdown. When Ali's mother makes it impossible for him to play this game, Ali makes a reckless plan that will put him right in the path of danger. What does Ali plan to do? Is he planning to go outside? What will happen to him if he does?

Zero One is a fast-paced thriller that keeps you glued to your seat and reading on until the end in a single sitting. The author creates a scarily realistic environment that will take your breath away. Nicholas Nicolaides creates a plethora of characters that are at once human and very entertaining. Ali, John, Mary, Kimiko, and others played a vital role in moving the story forward and making it enjoyable. The narrative is perfect for the story. It is fragmented without being confusing. In fact, fragmentation makes the story more interesting. The different points of view and multiple subplots make the story even more entertaining than most readers will anticipate. The dialogues are rich, the characters are diverse, and the story's overall feel is adrenaline-inducing. Needless to say, it is a must-read novel; an absolute entertainer.