Westerfeld’s Pretties, Uglies, Specials, and Extras series is one of my favorites. If you liked it, you will probably enjoy Zeros. Westerfeld invents a group of teens with mutations or special abilities that are fairly unique in the inundated fiction world of mutant heroes. They call themselves zeros because they were all born in the year 2000. The nickname does echo problems certain characters have with self identity and self worth.
The protagonist, Ethan, otherwise known as Scam, has an all-knowing voice that takes over his mouth and gets him into trouble more often than helping. When the story begins, scam has been ostracized by the rest of the group because of what this voice said a year previously. Yet, he turns to them for help when the voice gets him into serious difficulty with both the law and a gang of drug dealers.
One of the characters, Thibeault called Anonymous, is truly fascinating. Unless another person is directly engaged with him, his existence is forgotten. There is a truly heartrending story about his experience in the hospital as a child and how his talent can also be a life-threatening curse.
While the plot is clever and contains a few surprises, it is the characters and their development that holds the reader to the page. They each represent something people struggle with. Scam shows what happens when we speak thoughtlessly. Anonymous symbolizes how we all struggle to be truly seen by others and our desire to be remembered.
This book has three authors which gives it a slightly different tone than Westerfeld’s other work but is equally enjoyable. I will definitely pick up the rest of the series.