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Zero World

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Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.

Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

578 pages, Hardcover

First published August 11, 2015

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About the author

Jason M. Hough

27 books558 followers
Jason M. Hough (pronounced 'Huff') is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dire Earth Cycle and the near-future spy thriller Zero World. In a former life he was a 3D artist, animator, and game designer (Metal Fatigue, Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others). He has also worked in the fields of high-performance cluster computing and machine learning.

The Darwin Elevator began life in 2008 as a project for National Novel Writing Month.  The book released on July 30th, 2013 and reached the New York Times Bestseller list the following week. Darwin was Jason’s first published fiction. The subsequent books in that trilogy were released that same summer, along with a prequel novella, The Dire Earth, in 2014.

Jason's latest novel, Zero World, released on August 18th, 2015 from Del Rey Spectra (US) and Titan Books (AUS/NZ). Publishers Weekly called it “a thrilling action rampage that confirms Hough as an important new voice in genre fiction.”

He lives near Seattle, Washington with his wife, two young sons, and a dog named Missbuster.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 484 reviews
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 46 books128k followers
February 24, 2016
I don't think I've read a more exciting sci-fi novel since Neal Asher's "Owner" trilogy. This is sci-fi thriller writing at its best, I literally couldn't put the book down. How best to describe it? John Wick in space. Jason Bourne on an alt-Earth. Yeah, those work. All I could do while reading this was picture the John Woo version starring young Chow Yun Fat (Hard Boiled is my favorite action movie, soooo, yes I have good taste :D). If that could happen, please Hollywood, make it so!

The book follows an assassin who works for a corporation on a near-future earth. He has an implant in his brain that essentially gives him amnesia for the duration of a hit. But he's tormented by his job nonetheless. He gets sent on a mission into space to a ship wreck, which leads to an awesome twist that I don't want to spoil, and that jettisons him on the path of a world-bending mission. Upshot, he has to adjust to a strange and not-so foreign culture and kick ass over and over again. There's also an amazing female character who I couldn't stop picturing as Rooney Mara, who is incredibly kick ass herself.

I would recommend this if you like action movies, if you like thrillers like Jason Bourne novels, or Richard Morgan-type sci-fi. Please let this be a series, because I need moooooooore!
Profile Image for Jason Hough.
Author 27 books558 followers
Want to read
February 25, 2016
Thought you might all enjoy reading Felicia Day's review!

I'm leaving a no-rating review here as a convenient way to post news about this book. Please "like" or mark this helpful so it stays at the top.

Cheers! I hope you all enjoy Zero World. I'm very proud of it!
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,635 reviews34k followers
December 16, 2015

I don't understand why so few people I know have read this, because it's incredibly fun.

If you liked Rachel Bach's Paradox scifi series or the Jason Bourne films (plus diverse MCs! Star Trek-y dilemmas! Spaaace.), this book is gonna rock your world. Also an easy transition for YA readers if you want to venture into adult SF.

Review to come.
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
412 reviews2,221 followers
July 1, 2020
Solid SF action/thriller with terrific world building. Way, way bigger and more ambitious than I was thinking based on the cover. The universe he's set up here needs more books, hopefully we'll get some.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
August 11, 2015
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/08/11/b...

How do I know when a book has got its hooks in me? I read the digital ARC of Zero World from NetGalley which actually ends at 78% with the rest of it being bonus material. Of course, I had no idea of this going in and didn’t find out until I hit the Acknowledgements page. Having expected this unbelievably gripping story to go on for about a hundred more pages – then having that expectation cruelly ripped away from me – my resounding wail of “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” probably could have been heard from all the way down the street. As you can imagine.

Seriously, what can I say about this book that would do the sheer ingenuity of its premise justice? It’s like James Bond meets Memento meets an episode of Star Trek. Let’s just say the tagline of Zero World – “This will be the most interesting mission you’ll ever forget” – serves its story well, a promise of adventure and thrilling action packed into those ten simple words.

The story follows biologically enhanced secret agent Peter Caswell, who undertakes every single operation he gets with a clean conscience – literally. With the help of an implant surgically melded into his brain, he never remembers his missions; everything from dossier details to the number of people killed while he is in the field always gets thoroughly wiped from his mind upon completion. In many ways, he is the perfect superspy. And now he’s embarking on his most dangerous and secretive assignment yet, one that will take him beyond reality into another world entirely.

After passing through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space, Caswell finds himself on an Earth eerily like his own. A lot of is the same but so much more is different, and in this alien yet familiar world, our protagonist must track and kill his quarry before irreparable damage can be done. To his surprise, Caswell receives help from an unexpected source in the form of Melni, an undercover agent on this mirror world who is also seeking the same target, but for very different reasons than his own.

If you enjoyed Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle, picking up this book is a no-brainer. This is without a doubt his most exciting and ambitious work yet. The author’s penchant for rich world building and writing about incredibly innovative tech has always impressed me, but what I love about his science fiction is the fact that it’s also so accessible. Zero World blends futuristic elements with the best parts of the spy thriller genre to great success; the story captured my attention from the get go and it never relented with its nail-biting suspense. There were some pretty huge twists around the midway point too, leading to staggering implications for the plot and the characters. Add the seemingly insurmountable obstacles for our protagonists into the equation, and you can see why this novel kept me reading well into the wee hours of the night.

The team of Caswell and Melni is also a very unique and enjoyable partnership, one in which each of their participation is refreshingly equal. It’s always interesting to read about characters from different worlds meeting for the first time and their eventual teaming up, and I had a very good time following their exploits and watching the interplay between their personalities. Melni fascinated me with her loyalty to her organization and their cause, despite being looking down upon and treated like a foreigner by her own people. Caswell is an even bigger enigma, given how integrated he is with his implants. I have to wonder, can his attitude towards the morality of his actions be simply chalked up to denial, or might it be tied up in something much bigger? Hough’s subtle probing into the complexities of the human psyche surprised me a bit here, but I liked the depth it gave to his characters.

There’s actually some irony in the fact that Peter Caswell can’t remember his missions, because I think his adventures in Zero World are sure to stick with me for a long time. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to end, and I believe I’ve already made those feelings glaringly clear in my opening paragraph. I despaired when I turned the page and realized the book was over. Can you tell I’m desperate for the sequel? Be sure to check out this novel if you enjoy your sci-fi thrillers filled with adrenaline rushes and high-energy action sequences; I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Profile Image for Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf).
473 reviews287 followers
July 16, 2017
WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!! Oh what fun!!!!! This book is the reason I love Sci-Fi! I can't believe it is not more popular! It was AMAZEBALLS! I only found out about Zero World through GoodReads Sci-Fi recommendations, and I am so glad I bought it! I listened to the audio version on Audible and it was FABULOUS! - One of the best I have ever listened to!

Peter Caswell is a secret agent. A super-spy! He is altered and advanced so that he can do a lot of cool stuff thanks to an implant in his brain. However this implant also activates after a set time, to wipe the memory of his mission. So when he is sent to find a scientist who escaped a space ship after killing the rest of the crew, he only has a short time before his brain is wiped and he forgets doing it. However the scientist seems to have disappeared through a wormhole near the sun, and once Caswell is on the other side, he soon learns that everything is not what it seems.

Oh man this book was an awesome ride!! Full of action, adventure and mystery! The audio version with Gideon Emery was FANTASTIC! I LOVED his voice and his portrayal of all the characters! They all had a different distinctive voice and man, I could listen to that voice all day long! I am going to find other audio books he has done!

The characters were FABULOUS! I loved Caswell and the premise of him not being able to remember his previous missions. And with a HUGE twist at the end I had NO IDEA was coming! Loved it! And Melnie, with her spiky hair and purple eyes!

I loved the twists and turns through the book, the thing I love about Sci-Fi is that it can be as unimaginable and unrealistic as the author wants because anything is possible! Without giving too much away, it was a great story, had loads of science elements and was SO IMAGINATIVE! Hough created an awesome universe and I really hope that he does more with the premise and this isn't just a one off! I WANT MORE!

My ONLY criticism is that there wasn't enough romance! There was SUCH opportunity for a bit more romance, and that would have made it even better for me, cause I love that crap!

Would I recommend Zero World?

ABSOLUTELY! For any Sci-Fi fan, or any Sci-Fi novice who wants a great place to start! Thoroughly enjoyed it! One of the best books I have read (or listened to) this year!

For more reviews check out my blog


May 16, 2021
This one was actually pretty entertaining. At first. Spoiler warning: It didn't last.

Also, that ending? Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? Who the bloody stinking shrimp stops a standalone book mid-scene, anyway? Without offering any sort of plot resolution whatsoever? I mean, what the actual fish?! Sorry, what? I sound a little bit pissed off, you say? Absolutely not. I am peace, calm and happiness personified at the moment.

See what I mean?

Review to come. Or not.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews534 followers
February 19, 2022
This book leans more towards thriller (with world building fantasy thrown in) than towards scifi. Peter Caswell is an assassin, and the gimmick is that his memory is conveniently erased after each mission so that he suffers no guilt about all of the people he has killed. His current mission is to find and kill Alice Vale, a scientist who went missing from a spaceship 12 years ago.

Peter accurately describes himself as a blunt instrument. Violence is his solution to every problem. The body count was amazingly high. The idea of cleverly outwitting opponents is never entertained. I admit that I skimmed about 80% of the fight scenes, and there were quite a lot of those. I did enjoy the basic premise of the story and the world building. I had trouble getting into this book, I just wasn't that engaged in the beginning. However, I got a lot more interested in the last third of the book when the meaning of the book's title was finally explained.

I was reading an eBook and this book ended at the 78% point. The rest of the file was a novella prequel to The Darwin Elevator, which I haven't read. I also did not read the prequel. This book was complete, but there is definitely more story to tell. If there is a sequel I will probably read it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
September 5, 2015
A sci-fi spy thriller with the feel of an action movie.

'Zero World' starts off strong, introducing us to Peter Caswell, a spy and assassin. To do his job, he relies on an implant which allows his handler to 'erase' all the memories of his missions, assuring that guilt and doubt never catch up with him. He approaches each assignment as a freshly trained, gung-ho agent, confident that he'll never have to ask questions or face the moral consequences of his actions. All he knows is that so far, he's killed 206 people.

It's not a surprise to the reader that this mission might up that body count significantly. This assignment, Caswell is sent out into space to investigate a derelict spacecraft. He doesn't find out until he's there that his assignment is to track down the sole surviving crewmember, Alice Vale, who has somehow traveled through a 'Conduit' and discovered another world. Not all goes as expected, and soon Caswell finds himself having to reassess and improvise, teaming up with a local spy/agent, Melni, and getting involved with a whole new set of politics.

The book is primarily action-adventure, but it does a nice job setting out layers of plots and revelations in a way which gradually increases the scope of events and the increasing ramifications of what's at stake.

My biggest complaint is that the worldbuilding seemed a little lazy. There was no convincing explanation beyond some brief handwaving for the strange similarities between Earth and the newly-discovered world, and the differences don't make cultural sense [in that we never see how the society we're shown developed in the way it did through its history]. The differences amount to a few random vocabulary words and 'reversals' (Long hair is 'masculine', women are expected to take the social lead, the discriminated-against refugees are blonde and pale.)

There's also a character who shows up solely to give a big, long, important speech about critical background and events, before being eliminated from the book. The section feels extremely forced; like the author just couldn't think of any other way to reveal this information to the characters.

As a whole, though, I still found the book highly entertaining. There's room for a sequel - but it ends at a satisfying, conclusive juncture.

Many thanks to NetGalley and DelRey for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

Profile Image for samantha  Bookworm-on-rainydays.
278 reviews118 followers
June 7, 2017
An amazingly fun book from a talented author. Once i started reading, I could not stop. The story had me riveted and kept me from stopping and going to sleep. Not many books can capture my attention so fully. Can't wait to see what happens next!
Profile Image for Carly.
456 reviews185 followers
May 25, 2015
“This will be the most interesting mission you’ll ever forget.”
Peter Caswell can’t remember where he’s been or what he’s been doing, but in his business, that’s par for the course. Caswell’s discretion isn’t just a professional promise; with the help of the implant at the back of his brainstem, it’s physically guaranteed. With his exploits wiped from his mind, Caswell is freed from the memory--and the responsibility--of every kill.

But when his newest mission sends him off to a mysterious spaceship, he finds himself facing new worlds, strange cultures, and alien politics. And the clock is ticking inexorably towards the moment he’ll forget everything.

Zero World is an entertaining thriller with the added bonus of a few questions worth musing over. Peter’s entire lifestyle hinges upon his lack of accountability. Because he can forget everything, he feels responsible for nothing--after all, he’s not the man who completed the mission. But does freedom from memory really mean freedom from accountability?

With the military espionage, fast action, and graphic violence, the book reminded me strongly of Richard K. Morgan’s Broken Angels, and I’d definitely recommend Zero World to its fans. Like Kovacs, Caswell is often troubled by the morality of his actions, but that never stops him from dealing out swift and decisive death to anyone who gets in his way. Like Broken Angels, the violence is constant and often sickeningly vivid and the book’s body count is staggering, but there are also long stretches where the characters try to assimilate their new surroundings. Morgan is perhaps rather stronger in worldbuilding--although Hough certainly thought carefully about the future he created, there are a few gaps that niggled at me like a broken fingernail. At the same time, I found the overarching plot riveting enough to keep me reading to the end, and there were plenty of twists that I didn’t expect.

I can’t say much about the plot without spoilers, but if you’re looking for a fast-paced military scifi thriller, especially if you enjoyed Richard K Morgan’s Broken Angels, this book is definitely worth a look.

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, in exchange for my honest review.~~

Cross-posted on BookLikes.
Profile Image for Veronica .
754 reviews177 followers
February 26, 2018
Well, color me disappointed. I was so psyched for this book. I'd heard it was John Wick in space - and I love me some John Wick ("I once saw him kill three men in a bar...with a pencil") - so it was a given that I'd read this. Now I wish I'd looked for this in the library instead of spending money on buying it. It felt flat story-wise and the characters weren't very engaging at all. Peter Caswell, as the supposedly John Wick-ish assassin totally lacked any charisma and never really exuded any true sense of menace for all the kills he had. He never rose above a two dimensional character for me. Then there's Melni, the other main character who isn't even mentioned in the book blurb. She didn't fare any better in the character development department than Caswell did. She has "fashion model pixie" looks which is all it takes, apparently, for a hardened assassin who views any type of relationship as a complication to start spilling the details of his uber top secret mission. *yawn* There was a cool idea in there about the whole Zero World thing but it doesn't come until the second half of the book and by that time I wasn't paying much attention. In the end, I just wasn't interested enough in the characters or the plot to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Jodi Henry.
Author 2 books20 followers
May 18, 2015
I received a copy of this title via NetGalley in return for an honest review, and honestly?


There are so many things right about Zero World, I don't really know where to begin.

The genre mashup? Yeah, that's a good place. The cover suggests a James Bond / Jason Bourne protagonist, and the back cover blurb tells you it's science fiction. Both very representative of what you'll find in the pages. But I think this book would appeal to readers of steampunk, as well. So if I were assigned the mighty task of label the book, it would end up being: futuristic scifi dystopia steampunk spy thriller with...more, but if I tell you what the "more" is it'll spoil so much. And nobody likes spoilers.

Having read Hough's Dire Earth series, I went into the book expecting certain things: great characters, multiple POV, lighter scifi (I never felt DE was hard scifi, and I know some will disagree with me there, but there it is), a certain level of dystopia, good action and good scene setting.
He took all of those to an ENTIRELY new level in Zero World.

There are fewer main point of view characters, which I always find easier to follow and get attached to than with more POV's to keep straight. Peter Casewell is scary at times. Melni is feminine and tough and nothing short of amazing. The two play well together even when they don't play well together.

I totally geeked-out over the science. It's much harder in this than the Dire Earth series, but it isn't the beat-you-over-the-head-with-new-terms type of hard scif. It's well thought out and explained in a readable way. The tech is futuristic, but not complicated. The vossen gun, I so want one. And I just LOVE the entire premise Hough gives us for the why everything is the way it is.

So. Brilliant.

Hough should have named his male protag Peter B-A-D-A-S-S, because Caswell is just that. He can take the punches, but mostly he dishes them out with vengeance. Melni is every bit his equal in the badass department. The action scenes are choreographed so well, it's like the reader is standing right there, taking and receiving the kicks right along with the characters.

Last, but probably the most notable, is the scene setting and backstory. I've seen good setting before in lots of books. I've seen books that handle backstory very well. But nothing like this. For Real.

The setting is FUCKING AMAZING. Like awesome in a way that makes me wish Hough would do a web workshop on world building (or destroying) and how to deliver vast amounts of backstory without bogging down the pace of the story. We've all read books where the setting and backstory are overbearing and delivered in deep detailed paragraphs that get hard and/or boring to read. While the deeply detailed paragraphs are the case in Zero World, they're never tedious to read.

And I think what makes it so good is the way Hough layers everything together: description of the world with backstory of said world, and where our characters fit into it all in the current situation. I didn't find myself skipping or glossing over any of the passages, and I tend to do that in where the exposition gets heavy. Paragraph after paragraph all the way through the book, I found his setting and backstory so super rich and interesting, that I never once skipped. He's crazy consistent in his delivery.

So, yeah, go forth and read the book now.

Happy reading. Happier writing.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,309 reviews3 followers
July 29, 2019
Read the blurb. Sounds exciting, right? This superspy must be the most boring, blank-slate, spy ever in the history of fiction. He's got almost no personality, we're given nothing of his background, know very little about his current life, and what we do know is all suspect.

This book is like watching a football game if you know nothing at all about football, and have no reason at all to care which side wins. Sure, there's action, but no excitement.

This book has a 4 star average among my Goodreads friends. Clearly I need new friends, cuz folks, this is not thrilling, exciting, fast paced. It's dull.

I made it to Chapter 11. Yeah, maybe it gets better, but so far it's boring and it draaaaaaaaaaaaaaags. If a book takes to the second half to actually engage me, sorry, life is too short for that nonsense.

Yes, stuff happens, and the MCs are running around trying not to get caught, but who cares? The world-building so far is nearly non-existent, the characters are flat and one-dimensional, and we're given no real reason to care if they die or not or if their mission succeeds or not.

I understand some books are more action driven than character or plot driven. But you gotta give the reader some reason to care, or the action falls flat. You could write the best action scene ever, but if we don't care about the outcome there will be no suspense, no tension, no thrills, no heart-pounding, no excitement.

Short cuts can work, if we're given some sort of context in which we'd naturally presume a character was on the "right" or "good" side (even if later that twists), such as a police officer, a government agent of a known government, etc. Someone we'd naturally root for, simply because of our real life knowledge and experience. And yes, biases. Or from the other side - someone fighting against something/someone we'd naturally consider "wrong" or "bad". Like Nazis.

But here we've got an unknown agent working for a shadowy company in a place where we have no information about the bigger picture. You can't just tell me his mission is important - especially when that comes from a mysterious corporate handler from a mysterious corporation. You need to convince me. We don't even have reason to like this guy himself, no real reason to even care simply because we're invested in him as a person.

So folks, I'm the odd man out. Cuz this "thrilling action thriller" isn't thrilling.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews258 followers
September 27, 2015
4.5 Stars

Zero World by Jason Hough is an action science fiction rocket blast of a thriller and adventure...

“This will be the most interesting mission you’ll ever forget.”

Peter Caswell is a spy, a killer, and a professional assassin. He is also a man without a conscience. Caswell is able to be an incredibly ruthless and successful killer thanks to his special abilities which stem from a very ingenious futuristic implant. He is simply a man that is incapable of feeling guilty. Peter is a fantastic dark anti-hero that the reader will have an easy time identifying with and understanding. He carries this fast paced story with ease.

Hough has created a wonderful sci-fi thriller that reminds of Minority Report crossed with say a Bond movie that takes place 200 years from now. The style of this book resembles Neal Asher to a great extent. The action and the adventure is the star, the science fiction is the device. Awesome...

The world building is a star of this book. It is clearly a future based science fiction but for reasons I won't mention it is also a steam-punk like adventure that takes place on an alternative earth. Hough does a magnificent job of describing each area, city, and place and makes this book feel fantastical. I loved it.

The story is filled with twists and turns that are fun, especially when you add in the near Memento like plot device. Melni is a fantastic addition to the story and her relationship grows and shines with Peter. The ending is a weakness even though most of the story lines are resolved. It ends however at a point that clearly demands more. Whether Hough plans on a follow up or not, this book works and is definitely worth your time. This is what great action filled science fiction is all about. Highly recommended...
Profile Image for J.
275 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2015
So, take a spy thriller with an assassin who can't remember his kills and throw him into an alternate universe but make sure he, at some point, forgets everything of import that's happened to him. Thus is the boiled down description to the best of my ability for Jason M. Hough's Zero World. It's a book with a lot of ideas, a lot of action, not a whole lot of character development, an alternate world build, and a somewhat interesting lack of clear focus at the times when it most needs it. Taken apart individual pieces are intriguing and could make great stories, but Hough stretches this one a bit too much at times causing the book to feel like it ought to be three separate stories instead of one whole story.

Then there's the addition of "The Dire Earth" novella which is connected to a completely different series by Hough. I won't go into it so much as it's really only a diversion/propaganda piece tacked on the end. If you find yourself intrigued by the story, feel free to pick up The Darwin Elevator. If, like me, you find it a mish mash of random characters thrown into a different take on World War Z, well, let's just say I'm not picking up the series of which it's a prelude.

To sum up, I liked the action of the pieces and thought there were some ideas of interest. I wanted more focus on one or two ideas rather than the sprawling "it is because I say it is" feel of Zero World. It's not that Hough can't write, just that his stories feel bloated and overdone instead of having a laser-like focus of an assassin to cut out the chaff so we're left with the meaty, truly satisfying wheat.

Note: ARC received via Amazon Vine in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Josh.
72 reviews1 follower
April 16, 2015
Let me get this right out of the way. Zero World is fantastic. I couldn't put it down. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and holy crap does this book deliver the goods. The world building here is masterfully done and the characters are richly imagined. I don't want to really say anything else about this book because I don't want to spoil anything. That being said, Zero World is downright kick ass science fiction. It transcends the genre and if you're like me and you loved The Darwin Elevator, old man's war etc, you are going to love this book as well. Jason Hough is a major talent. His next book could be about gravel and it would still be riveting. Seriously.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,773 reviews573 followers
August 11, 2015
Let the countdown to action begin as Jason M. Hough firmly etches his name on the A list of science fiction writers as he leaves you caught in the magnetic gravity of every single page. Welcome to Zero World where someone is playing Russian Roulette with the planets.

A tear in space, a spaceship long missing is found. The crew is dead, but one member is missing. On a mission to discover the fate of the missing crew member, superspy Peter Caswell is on the case, but what he discovers will shake the foundations of the universe as it is known. Not unlike the Bizzaro world of Superman, Earth has a mirror planet, so similar, yet so twisted and here, the missing scientist is found. Has she become like the All Powerful Oz? For Peter, time is running out and he must get to the bottom of this mystery or die trying.

Jason M. Hough has done it, again! Welcome to the future as his mind sees it, filled with mystery and intrigue, deceit and the machinations of those with the power, using people like Peter as their unwitting pawns. Gripping, chilling, twisted and packed with action from start to finish, let your imagination run as free as Mr. Hough’s as each scene unfolds. Hang on tight to each world, this is a twisted journey far from home, one that even the hero make not survive. Check your gravity belts, grab some freeze-dried rations and prepare for the countdown to liftoff!

Not sure if you are a fan of Science fiction? What better place to start than Zero World!

I received an ARC edition from Random House/Del Rey in exchange for my honest review.

Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 0553391267
ISBN-13: 9780553391275
Genre: Sci-fi Intrigue
Print Length: 592 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews95 followers
September 1, 2016
I received this from Netgalley (a LONG time ago!) in exchange for an honest review.

This one started out strong, but fell off after the halfway point for me, and I struggled to finish it.

Peter Caswell is an assassin sent to a planet in an alternate dubbed "Duplo" because of its similarities to our Earth. Traveling in a spaceship with pre-programmed destination and return routes, Caswell is only told what his handler thinks he needs to know to carry out his mission: who the target is and a general idea of the potential difficulties and challenges. Caswell's body has been enhanced with sophisticated technological devices: implants that can temporarily increase his hearing and fighting capabilities or make him forget anything connected to a previous mission, including the number of people he has killed.

In the first encounter with his target, Caswell meets a woman named Melni. These two central characters learn things that make them wary of each other, but the knowledge acquired about Earth and Duplo drives the novel’s world-building and introduces a major plot twist later on in the book. I did like Melni, a strong female character and an outstanding undercover operative, but I didn’t think it very realistic in the way she immediately trusted Caswell, which seemed really out of character for her. Speaking of Caswell, I was completely indifferent to his character. I just didn’t connect with him at all.

Just like the books to which is has been compared (The Bourne Series, James Bond, etc.), it is fast-paced and packed with violent scenes. There are a few shocking surprises that propel the plot in twists that didn’t really work, leading to a messy ending that left me quite dissatisfied.
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,093 reviews169 followers
August 10, 2015
I received a signed copy of an ARC directly from the author at the 2015 Phoenix ComiCon NOT in exchange for a review! It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with Mr. Hough and "gratitude" for the book.

Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres and Zero World did not disapoint in that aspect. There were amazing twists that blew my mind and I loved the unique storyline!

To be honest, there were times I struggled but all in all, I enjoyed the read. I think I would enjoy this even more as a movie since I glazed over a bit during the heavy action scenes. But the concept is brilliant and I can't wait to see what comes next.
Profile Image for Richard.
452 reviews108 followers
January 1, 2018

I enjoyed this but life got in the way meaning I was very slow to get through it which impacted my overall enjoyment.

The story is clever and an interesting premise and written stylishly but when you can only read a couple of pages a night before falling asleep then things just feel stilted. In no way was this the books fault but my own. I wish I'd approached this at a different time as I think I could have really enjoyed this, instead I just thought it was ok and was looking to get into my next read when I could.

I'd try another by the author but this one narrowly fell short for me.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
890 reviews110 followers
September 7, 2015
Zero World is a fast furious powder keg of a novel. An ingenious plot makes the story all the more exciting. Jason Hough's fourth novel, following the winning and immensely readable Dire Earth trilogy of last summer, is a great summer read. The story is fresh, fast, interesting and intense and has great science fiction antecedents. Mixing elements of science fiction, Jason Bourne, Total Recall, assassins and Star Trek's Prime Directive, the novel succeeds on most levels.

The only reason it was not a 5 star in my mind is a Del Rey packaging error in the Kindle edition. It is not clear it contains an additional novella at the end so as you approach the climax of the novel, it seems like you still have one third of the book to go. But for that confusion while reading, and it definitely affected the reading experience, this book has everything one could want in a science fiction thriller.

Jason Hough's main character Peter Caswell is an assassin employed by a corporation known as Archon. His handler is a Monica Pendleton, who Caswell thinks is helping humanity and Archon by eliminating enemies of both. Caswell has a brain implant that speeds up his reflexes and makes him practically a superman. Along with a truly horrible gun, that shoots tiny missiles that explode in a person's body, Caswell has racked up an impressive list of kills. He is the perfect weapon. However, Caswell does not remember any details of his kills. The implant erase his memory of what he has done.

At home after a mission, Caswell has reverted back to his normal self and is about to go on vacation, when Pendleton contacts him and sends him on a mission. He is to join an investigative squad exploring a returning spaceship which has apparently discovered technology that is a danger to Earth. After accomplishing his mission, Pendleton sends him on a spaceship through a space anomaly to a distant world where he is to stop an escapee from the spaceship gone to ground. He crashlands on the planet.

However, the new world is very similar to Earth. Is Caswell on Earth 2.0? We do not know and before we even can get comfortable with Caswell on the new world, the point of view switches to Melni Tavan, who lives on the world.

Melni Tavan is a spy for the South in the North as a journalist. She is trying to find out about Valix, a woman who has come out of nowhere and her eponymous corporation that has incubated a technological revolution making a great and powerful shift in the world. The Valix Corporation's ideas and innovations has given the North a leg up in their relationship with the South. The North is making great strides and the South is worried. Valix labs have produced microchips, semiconductors and other technological leaps. The Prime Directive is being completely violated. Or is it?

Caswell's first attempt to assassinate Valix will be a failure, but she will tell the reader important truths about Caswell. It will also alert the North and Valix to his presence, but during his escape, he runs into Tavan, who, with the South, will try to use Caswell to stop Valix.

But we still do not know whether Caswell is on the good team. Making Caswell's mission harder is that he cannot digest the food on the planet. And without food, his implant that makes him a superman is not as effective.

Now the North will be going after Caswell while Tavan and Caswell are going after Valix. There is high tension. Will Caswell be able to survive in his mission to stop Valix or not. All the while Caswell's implant is also counting down days to when he will revert and will not remember any of the events of the last 30 days. When will that happen? Caswell will have scant time to even know and prepare.

Meanwhile, we are learning about the world, Valix and Caswell and what we learn is very surprising.

Ultimately, Hough pulls off a complex science fiction thriller keeping the reader guessing about the good guys and the bad guys. Memorable characters. Great action. The ultimate deception and reveal will be super smart and convincing.

This is a smash hit. Loved it.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,726 reviews260 followers
July 9, 2015
I won an ARE copy of Zero World by Jason M. Hough through the Goodreads First Reads Program.

Peter Caswell, a technologically enhanced superspy who gets his memories deleted after completing a mission, has just been assigned to the most interesting mission he will ever forget. A spaceship that disappeared twelve years ago has been found with every crew member - except one - dead. It appears that the missing crew member escaped and fled through a wormhole that leads to an alien planet which appears to mirror 1950s Earth. It's Caswell's job to find her on this dangerously alien world with no support and only days to complete his mission. His skills will be put to the ultimate test because everything he knows will be challenged.

Zero World is everything I never knew I wanted - think Christopher Nolan's Inception starring James Bond thrown into a pulse-pounding mission on a parallel yet very alien planet - if that doesn't sound amazing, I don't know what would. I was unbelievably lucky to have won this Goodreads giveaway because this is by far one of the coolest sci-fi books lead by supremely badass main characters that I've read in a long time.

Our two main P.O.V. characters, Caswell and Melni, a Southern Gartien spy, complement each other well and they are every bit equals. Both are fully fleshed out people who each lead the story in their own right. The settings and world-building are also brilliant. The story is very visual with the level of detail that the author treats us to in regards to characters, Earth, technology, action, Gartien (mirror Earth), and many other spoilery things. I felt like I was watching everything play out on the big screen and I would love to see this properly adapted, by the way!

Without going too far into spoiler territory, I cannot recommend Zero World by Jason M. Hough enough! It is a marvelously action-packed, white-knuckle thriller that will keep you up all night dying to find out what happens next! I hope we get to see these characters again and after that ending I hope the wait isn't too long!
Profile Image for Beth.
3,130 reviews270 followers
August 10, 2015
Stunning and Brilliant! Zero World is an a high velocity science fiction mystery that will take your breath away.

Once again Jason M. Hough, the author of Dire Earth Cycle series, delivers with an amazing new adventure called Zero World.

Captivated from the beginning, this is sure to become an all time favorite for me and any scifi fan. The story is presented in a graphically violent and highly descriptive manner so it may not be a tale for the young reader. For me, that was enhanced by the amazing world building, outstanding storytelling and heart pounding pace that was absolutely riveting.

Hough's ability and imagination has rocketed him to one of my favorite science fiction authors.

I received this ARC copy of Zero World from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication August 18, 2015.

Rating: 5 Stars FAVORITE

Written: Jason M. Hough
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
ISBN-10: 0553391267
ISBN-13: 978-0553391268
Genre: Suspense | Scifi | Fantasy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For Reviews and More Check out: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Jo .
2,631 reviews51 followers
June 19, 2015
Zero World is a fast paced tension filled science fiction adventure. It starts out as one thing then changes direction again and again. Peter Carswell is not that nice a hero and at first I really disliked him. He never get less violet but he did grow on me as the book progressed. He and Melni Tavan make a good pair. There is very good world building - much of it full of surprises. The back story is interesting and critical to the story line. Peter and Melni have to carry the story and they do a very good job. There is enough character development to support the story. This is an action driven plot so the characters do not have to be that well-developed to keep the story going. Don't look for a easy ending. We are left hanging and waiting for the next book.

Dire World a prequel to The Darwin Elevator is included in the book.
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews185 followers
June 10, 2015
An exciting ride through a parallel Earth, with a (likeable) Jason Bourne-type in Peter Caswell and a kick-ass female lead in Melni. The alternate-Earth narrative is not something I'm usually into, but I liked this quite a bit. There are both similarities and startling differences between our world and the alternate Earth, and Hough does a commendable job keeping their two distinct speech patterns consistent, often on the same page. Action-packed and a surprising feat of world-building.
Profile Image for Matthew.
381 reviews138 followers
November 3, 2015
What a ride! Off the hook from start to finish... I loved it!
Profile Image for Joel.
639 reviews233 followers
July 4, 2016

While the largest bulk of my reading is in the fantasy genre, sci-fi is certainly the second largest part of my list. When I read sci-fi, I generally feel that I am not quite smart/nerdy enough to really enjoy ‘hard’ content, with focus on spaceships and math and realism and such – I often say I err towards the people-centric, ‘soft’ stuff, ala Scalzi. Beginning with his Dire Earth series, I certainly found that Jason Hough’s works fit enough in that mold to engage me, while also including some ‘harder’ elements that he makes very easy and unintimidating to consume.

Zero World is the story of Peter Caswell, a spy/assassin who works in a unique field – he does covert ops, assassinations and the like, however his memory of each of these missions is wiped afterwards, Men-in-Black style. His missions are received semi-anonymously, transmitted to him via a liaison from his employer, and at the end of the day, he has no idea what he did, who he killed, or even how many people he killed, aside from a clever but subtle method of leaving himself notes via beer bottles.

Peter’s world is flipped a bit when he’s given a new mission, to track down a missing crew member from a recently re-discovered ship. However, this crew member turns out to have found a way to travel through something similar to ‘tear in the fabric of space’, and Caswell soon finds himself on an alternate version of Earth – one with similar speech patterns, slightly outdated versions of Earth’s technology, and their own set of politics and problems. As well as Alice Vale, the missing crewmember from the ship, who in this world has made herself a super-scientist and celebrity, slowly introducing technology from Earth to this planet.

The book is an absolute blast – it’s very fast paced, and despite being quite long, it reads very quickly and easily. I found myself blowing through the pages, eager to find out what happens next, and caught up heavily in all of the politics and action. The book was never too predictable, and I found the twists to be surprising to me almost every time, including several “aww snap!” moments. The characters were unique and engaging, and I found myself feeling for Caswell as he felt his way through the isolation on this planet, the problems he faced, and his forthcoming memory wipe. As the story progresses, he’s put through more and more trials, and eventually has to come to terms with being forced to face all that he’s done in the past, which he was assured would remain anonymous and unknown to himself.

Zero World lived up to it’s hype as an action-film-on-paper, but despite that it never felt shallow or unfulfilled. The plot was unique enough (at least to me), very interesting, and did not feel cheap or easy. The politics felt very real, very realistic, and very plausible, and the way the characters interacted, adapted, and communicated was as well. Hough’s writing is incredibly approachable to almost anyone, while still being professional and well rounded – space is not wasted on unnecessary elements, while I was never left feeling like bits were skipped over, or shortcuts were taken.

I enjoyed this every bit as much as I did The Darwin Elevator, in fact I’d say I enjoyed it more. It was a great balance of substantial storyline and characters, mixed with breakneck action and exciting plot twists. A great read, and it was really nice to have a page-turner that also kept my mind stimulated throughout.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
883 reviews39 followers
June 7, 2015
Just as a bit of information you might want to know, the description of this book shows 592 pages. Well, that's not quite correct. Zero World is 445 pages long and the novella The Dire Earth takes up the remaining pages. If you read Jason Hough's previous series beginning with The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle), The Dire Earth is set years before the events in Elevator. I read The Darwin Elevator when it was released and quite liked it so I was interested to see how the author would handle this novel heading into a new series.

The premise for this novel was intriguing for me; an assassin who had been modified with an implanted device which assisted him in his missions, both physically and psychologically. But then it just plunged straight into a space opera with so many chase scenes and fight scenes and descriptions of body parts and fluids ending up in unfortunate places that it completely missed what I had been hoping for.

If you are looking for a shoot `em up, kill `um all, brain matter splatter kind of novel, you've found it here. Not very much effort was made at world building because this is only the first book in the series. With the exception of one well hidden surprise the book is predictable, escapist entertainment and there is nothing wrong with that if it's what you want. I would definitely classify this novel as fantasy since there wasn't much science fiction described at all. This seems to have taken place about one hundred years into the future and there is the ability to travel in space for specific purposes, but not much more seems to have happened in the realm of technology advancements. As I said, it didn't go in the direction I thought would be interesting but I'm sure other readers will enjoy it more than I did.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Paul.
308 reviews73 followers
March 25, 2016
Peter caswell is an assassin that has his memory wiped after each "job."

Monique, his handler, sends him on assignment to a space station...and his adventure begins.

there is a nice mix of hard sci-fi, action and intrique in this novel. all in all a very intriguing read, yet I found it wasn't as fast paced as it could have been. the ending was open ended enough so Hough could, and hopefully would pen a sequel which I would definitely read.
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