Zer0es by Chuck Wendig
Hacker novels, and technothrillers, are always a current thing. Move five years, ten, then fifteen, and things become hilariously quaint. WarGames, The Net, Hackers, Enemy of the State, The Matrix. These all feel like relics now that we’ve moved forward with technology. So it’s intriguing to me when an author I like jumps into the fray.
Zer0es has a great story — the premise being that hackers are kidnapped and forced to work for a secret NSA cabal intent on creating an AI program that will “protect mankind.” Very Skynet. And so it kind of becomes this combination of X-Men and Suicide Squad, but instead of superpowers, they have super hacker powers. One guy is a Vietnam Vet conspiracist, one’s intent on swiping bank numbers and info, the other is a “life hacker” who’s good at talking to people and getting info, the third is a Muslim who is a standardly awesome hacker, and the last is literally a “troll.” A troll who can make people furious and who lives on fucking with people. These are your heroes.
Chapter 0 starts the novel and makes the entire novel a flashback while giving away so much of what they plan on doing. It kind of spoils the first part of the book for me. Then we get into relationships. Each of the characters is given some kind of trait that gets hammered on, and then they get a weird ghost in the closet that gets twanged for pathos. The love interest angle is incredibly dumb and feels shoehorned. It reads like a comic book, which is to say, it would have worked better as a comic rather than a novel. Wendig does graphic novel work, so I don’t know why Zer0es needed to be a novel. But it definitely plans on being a series, though now where we go from here remains to be seen.