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Book Review: Day Zero

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“It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . .

It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh “nannybot” fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he’d arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he’ll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny.

As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt.

But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.”

Title: Day Zero

Series: Sea of Rust #0.5

Author: C. Robert Cargill

Page Count: 304

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: January 22nd, 2024

Day Zero and it’s official book one of the series Sea of Rust have both been on my radar for a couple of years now. Our little buddy read group has planned on reading Sea of Rust in February so a couple of us decided to dive into this world with the prequel Day Zero before then. This is one wild ride! If you have issues with AI having thoughts and feelings then you might want to skip this one. If you don’t mind your machines have a bit of life to them with your science fiction, this was a good one to check out.
The pacing went very smoothly for me. I didn’t run into much in the way of editing issues from the versions I had as I started with an immersion read with the ebook and audiobook being narrated by Vikas Adam. No real issue with names of characters or places as this appears to be a near future of our own world. There is plenty of mystery, suspense and action in this story to keep things interesting as well.
The world building was nicely done. As I just mentioned the author does a nice job in making this feel like a what if near future world. We can relate to some technologies and perhaps even recognize some geographical areas mentioned. This was especially true for me as one of the biggest events in this story takes place somewhere in my own neck of the woods in the real world. It’s always a balancing act for me as a reader to be able to enjoy those relatable world locations as well as completely imaginary ones.
The character building was also nicely done which can’t be easy when we are attempting to make machines have emotions with AI. This world goes beyond AI simply problem solving but attempts to give them human emotions and thoughts. I felt Cargill nailed that in this story. This may be for simple reason of starting small with our two protagonists connecting early on and in a way both being young. Seeing the struggles of Pounce as he uncovers more of his real self and trying to decide what are his own thoughts versus was maybe simply a program was very interesting to see. We do have some nice arcs in this read. The larger more detailed is easily Pounce but Ezra’s is visible as well. Ezra does have a lot of growth in a short period of time in this story considering the situation.
All in all, I think was is a very fun and interesting read even as a standalone. I think this should serve as an excellent introduction to the world as our small group dives into Sea of Rust for our February buddy read.
If you are looking for a standalone or series that includes some real world connections with advanced AI machines with a changing world based on drastic events, I’d recommend giving Day Zero a read.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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