My second book with ‘Zero’ in the title in a row, and the second review in a row where I’m going to do a TV comparison… In this case, Going Zero reminds me of Channel 4’s The Hunted x BBC 1’s The Capture. In other words, a thrilling chase vs the technology all around us. Who will win? The commoner on the ground or the techheads?
Set in America (largely), the CIA have partnered with Silicon Valley genius Cy Baxter’s Fusion – the ultimate surveillance program. To test how good it is, ten Americans are picked for ‘Going Zero’ – a challenge in which they must evade detection/capture for 30 days.
The initially unassuming Boston librarian Kaitlyn Day is our main character on the ‘Going Zero’ side. She knows the Fusion team won’t expect much from her but she has a plan and more than a few surprises up her sleeve. This infuriates Cy Baxter as one-by-one all the others are caught. How far will he go to catch her? How far will she go to escape capture?
The book’s interesting on a couple of levels. First you have the thriller/chase angle, which is nicely done, with a few twists here and there to keep the intrigue going. Second, there’s the exploration of the ethics of surveillance. As technology evolves, it reaches further and further into our lives. Sometimes with our consent, and sometimes sliding right past it. In Going Zero, the hunted people are tracked financially, physically (gait analysis, face analysis), and psychologically (predicting their most likely moves) – and it’s easy (and scary) to extrapolate that to real-life situations.
As the book goes on, the stakes ramp up – asking the reader to suspend a bit more disbelief every time. It might annoy some but to be honest I think it comes with the territory when you pick up a thriller! A fun read for me.
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