I was excited when I received my bracket match up. I had heard lots of buzz about Everything, Everything (full disclosure: I wasn’t planning to read it and a coworker had already discussed the ending with me) so I was interested to read it for myself. I knew nearly nothing about Zeroes except my shock it had passed Nimona in the first round of the bracket.
Zeroes is written by three authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. The story rotates between six teens who all have super powers. These teens (Scam, Crash, Flicker, Anonymous, Bellwether, and Mob) aren’t like traditional superheroes. Instead, their powers are ones like bringing down any form of technology (Crash), seeing through other people’s eyes (Flicker), and a voice that speaks whatever to get what it wants (Scam) as a few examples. Scam is stuck in a bank robbery when his voice causes the robbery to go horribly wrong. When questioned at the police station, he calls his fellow Zeroes to help him out even though they had a falling out last summer. Soon, the group becomes mixed in something bigger thanks to Scam’s power.
Everything, Everything is the first novel by Nicola Yoon. The story is about a girl who falls in love with the boy who just moved in next door. The twist? The girl has an incredibly rare disease and must stay inside or risk death. Told from Madeline’s point of view, this book combines drawings, emails, IMs, and other elements to show her life before and after meeting Olly. After seeing a photo of her family in Hawaii before her father and brother died and her illness kept her inside, Maddy decides to chance everything and run off to Hawaii, taking Olly with her.
What a hard decision regarding two wonderful (and wonderfully different) books! Only in talking about both stories to my coworker Joanie did I come to a decision. Zeroes will go on to the Elite 8. Why Zeroes? Both books are fast paced with short chapters so they’d be great for reluctant readers (even though Zeroes clocks in at 546 pages). Even though I felt that the characters of Zeroes weren’t completely fleshed out, which I chalked up to being the first book in a series and the danger of telling the story from multiple points of view, the characters that you end up knowing the strongest (Anonymous, Flicker, and Crash) are really fascinating. Madeline in Everything, Everything felt like the perfect girl. Never argumentative, she’s beautiful and smart—only when she falls for Olly does she start opening up and acting more like a ‘typical teenager’, and in doing so becomes more known to the reader and to herself. This makes sense because she’s lived her whole life in her house and has little experience beyond what she reads. Olly, who for a part of the book remains known only through being seen through his bedroom window and IMs, seems more interesting. Hell, I’d fall in love with him too if I saw him give last rites to a Bundt cake. I don’t want to give away twists in either story but elements of Everything, Everything rang a little false for me and I’m a girl who’s a sucker for any romantic story. These are minor quibbles with both books, but I have to find which one is left behind and which one continues. I was content and pleased when I finished Everything, Everything. I read the last portion of Zeroes with my fingers in my mouth, anxious to see who would survive as the action came to a climax. While Zeroes is the start of a series, the book ends completely so the reader isn’t left hanging waiting for character resolutions. Even still, I’m excited to see what happens next for these not quite heroes. For these reasons, Zeroes gets my pick to continue.
WINNER: ZEROES BY SCOTT WESTERFELD, MARGO LANAGAN, & DEBORAH BIANCOTTI
Reviewed by Cheryl Gladfelter, Des Plaines Public Library