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Code to Zero

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  8,871 ratings  ·  514 reviews
In January, 1958, America's best hope to catch up with the Russians in the space race sits on a pad at Cape Canaveral. But the launch of the "Explorer I" satellite is delayed due to the weather, even though it is a sunny day. The real reason rests deep in the mind of a NASA scientist who wakes that morning with his memory completely erased--he knows a dark secret someone w ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Signet Book (first published 2000)
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I'm a big fan of Follett's works so I was surprised that this turned out to be one of his lesser materials. The idea is interesting enough and the opening scene holds promise but I found it to be a lackluster presentation and after about 80 pages or so I gave up on the novel.

It felt like a dumbed down novel in characters and plot demonstrations. Hard to go into more details without giving spoilers.

If you want to see Follet at his height read PILLARS OF THE EARTH or THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE or THE
This story seemed a little dated to me, and I was surprised to see that it was published in 2000; the storyline action took place in the late 1950s with a lot of flashback chapters to 1941 and 1945 (and a final leaping ahead to 1969), and it actually felt that old! On top of that, there were a couple key points to the plot that I simply could not accept as realistic—thinking “Nonsense, he (or she) would not have behaved that way.” Despite that fact, I read it in one day, staying up until 3:40 a. ...more
I loved it. When I was about 60% through with the book, I thought it was going to be one of my favorite books. The ending was a little disappointing and didn't have a marvelous ending, but I thought the story-line was great. I really enjoyed the fact that the plot was unpredictable for such a long time. Normally, as the book winds down the ending becomes more and more predictable as was the case with this book, but it took so long for that to happen, that I had to keep re-guessing how it would e ...more
I found this book exceedingly entertaining. In most spy thriller books you know from the beginning the good guy, the bad guy, and the basic construction of the final confrontation scene. In this book because of the main character's amnesia, I spend almost the entire book wondering is he good? Or is this a Bourne Identity (movie not book) situation? The same applied to the ancillary characters. Who is the Russian spy? Was anybody an actual spy? Were the people pursuing the hero doing so because t ...more
Sean Randall
Sep 23, 2011 Sean Randall rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sean by: steve
"We lie more to our loved ones, because we care about them so damn much. Why do you think we tell the truth to priests, and shrinks, and total strangers we meet on trains? It's because we don't love them, so we don't care what they think."

This was recommended to me as a good read and I'll admit the start, and indeed the whole idea, is a gripping one. Luke's race to solve his personal mystery could have been engaging and the space race is fascinating material with which to work. The trouble is, a
Sabrina Marielle
To tell you the truth, I never knew Ken Follett until the day my office mate told me about him.. She specifically told me that I will love his works because he was an exceptional author. And here I was telling you guys how much i love his story. I am a huge fan of books in which the main setting is NASA, NSA, CIA and CERN. This all started because of Dan Brown's books. Psh. He gave me all these dreams I have in mind. One of those is working for the NSA that's why I keep on pursuing my studies as ...more
Wendy Carlyle
So I need to know what happened to the spaghetti and tomato sauce? At one point the hero Luke is stirring it in the kitchen when he is called to the bathroom to remove some soap from the eye of the very attractive Elspeth and we all know where that leads! Did the pan boil dry and set fire to the kitchen?

Also, why didn't Anthony just shoot Luke on the first page......ah because then we wouldn't have a story!

Finally, if thousands were turning up to watch the Jupiter space rocket take off at Canav
Joe Mossa

i don t know if im becoming a reading snob or what but these types of books seem so fake to me after reading great writers. the sex scenes seem to be sprinkled in as obligatory requirements from the publisher. he tried to make his story authentic by putting scientific details in ala tom clancy. i got the feeling he was reading from rocketry manuals while typing this information. it reminded me of those scary days of the cold war which i am old enough to remember.
Jorge Vilarinho
Vou tentar ser justo a falar deste livro. Comecei com grandes expectativas porque sabia que Ken Follett é um grande escritor e já lançou grandes obras. Mas acho que não apanhei uma delas. Começou bastante interessante mas havia algo muito superficial que não deixava entrar a 100% na historia. A escrita e alguns pontos da história sao realmente bons, mas sem twists rapidamente se tornou algo um pouco banal que conseguia puxar para ler. Comparei a Dan Brown durante toda a leitura e posso dizer que ...more
We typically enjoy Follett’s work, and got hooked early in “Code” on the premise that “Luke”, who awakes in a train station as a homeless man with significant amnesia, soon and cleverly determines not only his identity but the how and why of what happened to him. In so doing, the author traces the man’s back story, about two couples who went to Harvard/Radcliffe, and eventually both married, but to the opposite partners from when they dated. We found that thread of the story quite entertaining, ...more
Thom Swennes
Most authors specialize in one particular genre. Ken Follett has the extraordinary talent to write anything. My first introduction to him was Pillars of the Earth. This spurred me on to its sequel World Without End and I was hooked. On Wings of Eagles proved him a master of both fiction and non-fiction. Code to Zero is set in the post WWII Cold War Era. The Soviet Union is winning the space race and the United States is desperate to catch up. Claude Lucas, a rocket scientist, wakes up in a publi ...more
Aug 18, 2008 Jodi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: thrillers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natacha Martins
Bem, por muito que gostasse de dizer o contrário, a verdade é que, infelizmente não há muito a dizer acerca deste livro... A desilusão só não é enorme, porque a minha incapacidade de vibrar com policiais desculpa, em parte, a fraca qualidade do livro e, por isso a minha vontade de ler Os Pilares da Terra não foi muito afectada. Pode ser que Ken Follett seja bem melhor nos romances marcadamente históricos.

Ora bem... Este é um livro cuja acção decorre em 1958, em plena Guerra Fria, nas horas que a
Greg Bascom
Around five in the morning, on January 29, 1958, a man wakes up in the men's room at Union Station, Washington D.C. He cries out in shock at his reflection in the mirror. He sees an unshaven hobo in filthy rags, and he has no recollection, none whatsoever. He shouts, "Who am I." Another bundle of rags on the floor replies, "You're a bum, Luke."

The reader learns that a woman in a motel near Cape Canaveral is worried about Luke, and that she met him during a panty raid at Radcliff in 1941. On page
Sandy Wood
I love Ken Follett books (on my list of top 5 authors) but this one was kind of lackluster. The idea is interesting enough and the opening scene holds promise but it didn't live up to expectations. It also seemed like a rip off of Bourne Identity as it was written in 2000. Characters were fair only. It seemed more like a churned out and slightly dated novel written to meet some publisher's deadline rather than the excellent stuff I expect from Follett.

Follett is awesome so instead of this read
A good story with lots of twists and turns, Follett keeps the pace going, and writes history with authority. I have found, in several of his books, that his writing from a woman's point of view is sometimes a bit cliched and hollow. A few of the plot turns stretched credulity. All in all, though, he captures the times with good detail.
Susan Clark-cook
I need to say right up front that I love Ken Follett's style of writing and have read most of his later works, the large novels that cover whole areas of time and life. I hadn't seen this book as it had been tucked away on my bookshelf for some time awaiting my reading. As I had run out of new books I picked this up and was very happy I did so. It catches your interest and is an engaging mystery that has a very page turning happiness to it. I didn't want it to come to conclusion but was satisfie ...more
An excellent story that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. It is very hard to stop reading it.
I enjoy Ken Follett books, some are better than others. I picked this one up while on holiday at the Space Coast, just after shopping at Patrick AFB, so I found this especially interesting, because all the places I was at were mentioned. The book Flashbacks to the 1950's, and WWII. I especially enjoyed this book because I am a space nut, very interested in the Space Project and as a child I had scrap books on Sputnik (loved that Yuri Gagarin)and also very interested in the American space program ...more
I finally finished this today! I have been reading this, but only in my classroom when I have a few moments while my students are working on something. I wanted to finish it sooner, but I have so few of those moments of downtime in which to read. This journey was 452 pages, but they were arranged in short chapters so that makes it conducive to read in my classroom. I must confess that I have no idea where I acquired this paperback, but it was published a few years back in 2000. The New York Time ...more
I liked the characters and their relationships. A wakes up homeless in a public men's room with no memory of his past and I particularly like the way he goes about attempting to discover his identity. I also liked how he was able to make new decisions about his past actions. I enjoyed Elspeth's math banter with her colleagues. The story moved along at a good pace and I stayed up the night finishing it.

The weakest point for me is I don't recall sufficient explanation for the premise*. If it had a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roger Scherping
He has written far better books than this. The characters, for example, have full back stories, but we don't really don't know anything about them personally. So when the villains are revealed, it really could be anyone because we just don't know enough about the characters.

And there are too many convenient occurrences. How Luke learns about his wife's deception is just not believable, nor is his wife's ability to discern his infidelity the following morning.

It wasn't long before I figured out
Ankit Hawk
It was my first Ken Follett novel. In past few years I tried to pick his work while browsing through library but in the end always skipped over him, synopsis didn’t help. It was when friend spoke highly of him and his work and gave copy of her code to zero copy I started reading his work.

And reading was over in a day.

Yes, it was satisfying reading. He has a type of writing that I could enjoy at anytime and with any type of story. And this was certainly showed in code to zero which has not much t
Ken Follett is a good author. When you can completely change the style and story, you go down in my records as a good writer. Plus he also keeps my attention from the first page. I did judge this book by its cover but once I opened it, I was good to go. This is a great suspense/mystery that I read in 3 days.
I am not really a fan of spy stories in general and Code to Zero by Ken Follett did not do much to convince me that they can be interesting. It had the potential to be really interesting since it is set during the space race in 1958 and the main character, Luke, experiences drug induced amnesia as part of a KGB spy plot to sabotage the Explorer I satellite launch, but there was not enough discussion of the science to really keep me interested. Instead, the story was much more about Luke’s strugg ...more
With his usual style, Ken Follett, has managed to take a real-life event and weave a plausible tale of fiction. The reader is left with the belief that these events might have actually taken place and caused the delay of the launching of Explorer I in 1958.

I found the plot of Code to Zero to be less complicated than many of Follett's thrillers. It was a very easy read, although the "villain" was not necessarily evident until the end of the tale. Having just finished reading two books dealing wit
Thomas Bailes
I always enjoy reading Ken Follett. Some, like Pillars of the Earth, provoke a lot of thought. Others, like Code Zero, are great entertainment.
Tamara Pietrantoni
La historia está muy bien narrada con un recurso que provoca mucha tensión a lo largo de todo el libro: las horas. Cada capitulo sucede a una hora y en cierto momento empieza a representar una cuenta atrás para el lector.
Los personajes están muy bien llevados, son personas capaces de “luchar” entre ellos y equilibrar la balanza a sus lados, no son personajes a los que se pueda ganar facilmente.
El libro nos presenta una historia en un contexto muy interesante, desconocida para el lector, y lo más
After dabbling with the Indian literature followed by a period of lull, I decided to resume reading with Ken Follett’s Code to Zero. Infamous for writing some of the best spy fictions, thrillers and historical sagas, Ken Follett is a master storyteller, the one that compels the readers’ to put everything on hold till the very end.

Published in 2000, Code to Zero is a story of the scientist named Luke who wakes up at the Union Station... for the complete review, please visit

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Ken Follett burst onto the book world in 1978 with Eye of the Needle, a taut and original thriller with a memorable woman character in the central role. The book won the Edgar award and became an outstanding film.

He went on to write four more bestselling thrillers: Triple; The Key to Rebecca; The Man from St Petersburg; and Lie Down with Lions.

He also wrote On Wings of Eagles, the true story of ho
More about Ken Follett...

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“the war taught me that nothing counts as much as loyalty" "Bullshit. you still haven't learned that when humans are under pressure, we're all willing to lie" "even to the people we care?" "we lie more to our loved ones, because we care about them so damn much. why do you think we tell the truth to priests and shrinks and total strangers we meet on trains? it's because we don't love them, so we don't care what they think.” 0 likes
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