Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Code to Zero” as Want to Read:
Code to Zero
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Code to Zero

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  18,349 ratings  ·  1,031 reviews
A man wakes up to find himself lying on the ground in a railway station, his mind stripped bare of all recollection. He has no idea how he got there; he does not even know his own name. Convinced he is a drunken down and out, it isn’t until a newspaper report about a satellite launch catches his eye that he suspects all is not what it seems…

The year is 1958, and America is
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 6th 2005 by NAL (first published November 30th 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Code to Zero, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,349 ratings  ·  1,031 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Code to Zero
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Decent thriller centered around the space race of the late 50s & 60s. Solid 6 of 10 stars
Nov 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
I remember, as a young fella, really enjoying Ken Follet's early works: The Man from St. Petersburg, The Eye of the Needle, The Key to Rebecca, to name a few. Maybe I wouldn't like them as much now, I'm not sure, but Code to Zero, another espionage novel -this time revolving around the Cold War space race, I found to be cheesy as hell. Juvenile writing, almost insulting to the reader. The author holds your hand as he walks you through the plot, guiding you as a parent guides a small child throug ...more
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Wendy Carlyle
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Suspense thrillers are new for me, as I have recently started reading that genre. But after reading this book I can confidently say that I'm on the right track.
The starting was confusing , I'll admit that. But along with that it was gripping too, and I applaud the author for that. A fast-paced book with one of the most interesting plots I've ever come across( YET!).
The ending did justice to the book, which is not usually easy with a good suspense book. Will surely read more books by the author.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: follett

It's sad to say that 'Code to Zero' was Follett's first real flop and disappointment!

The book is filled with unnecessary cheesy hyperboles, and a plot that tries to be creative but it goes nowhere! Sadly, the idea of writing a book about USA vs U.S.S.R cold war, in the likes of a character that suffers 'amnesia' becomes a little too daunting, even to the master Follett. The characters are so poorly developed, mostly due to Follett's insistence of contrasting the story in the present and with
Sean Randall
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Code to Zero is a thriller taking place during the height of the Cold War as the fledgling space program race between the United States and Russia wages on. Each chapter opens with an epigraph highlighting the progress of the launch of Explorer I at Cape Canaveral, Florida. What transpires is a race for time as it becomes apparent that there are intervening forces to sabotage the launch as the story rapidly moves from the Space Center at Cape Canaveral to Washington, DC to Huntsville, Alabama to ...more
❤Marie Gentilcore
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, e-book
This is the second book I’ve read by Ken Follett. I like his writing style. This is one of his older books and it was suspenseful and I enjoyed reading it. It is about the space race between the US and Russia in the late 1950’s. It starts off with a man waking up in a public bathroom with no memory of who he is. It turns out he is a rocket scientist and Russian spies at NASA have done this to him and he only has a short time to save the rocket launch.
Michael Adamchuk
The story takes place over three days in 1958 during the during the height of the Cold War and the space race with the Soviet Union. Follett builds up the suspense as the story builds to an exciting climax. A man wakes up in the rest room of Union Station in Washington, DC. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. He is dressed up in raggedy clothing. He has lost his memory. An article about the upcoming launch of a US rocket jogs a tiny memory. From that clue, he is slowly led to his old c ...more
Joe Mossa
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was ok

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.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ken-follett
You can't possibly put it down, it's that good! ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this cold-war era spy thriller. Great characters and a gripping story.
Bart Hopkins
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Ken Follett is a fantastic writer; I'm a big fan.

And, this book was decent. It was okay. The writing felt mechanical, and I think he could have done more with it. Probably Follett's worst book, but this is the anomaly, the blip on the screen that doesn't belong--he is normally a very good writer.

Who am I to judge, though? I'm just an average guy who likes to get lost in books. If you have a chance to read it, you might like it. If you want to immerse yourself in Follett's best, try The Pillars o
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
Ken Follett can write brilliant, complex, gripping novels. This is not one of them. The whole thing manages to be bland and convoluted at the same time and stretches credulity to the breaking point.
Glen Krisch
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Another solid thriller by Follett. Enjoyed how the threads came together at the end.
Aug 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: thrillers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Haak
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable read. I also liked the small facts at the beginning of each chapter - it helped me learn a little more about the early days of the U.S. space program. Sometimes my poor name recollection makes it a little difficult to follow characters, but this one was pretty easy.
Thom Swennes
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Greg Bascom
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
meh. Very tropish and cliched, both in character and plot. I just didn't care for any of the characters. The protagonist is "too perfect", with his high moral code, etc. I love a lot of Follet's work but this and "Paper Money" are forgettable. Don't bother. If you want some good Follet, try Eye of the Needle, on wings of eagles, or pillars of the earth. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
This is a perfect, gripping and fun, spring/summer read.

To be given 5 stars, it should be a little less naive, but it doesn't bother me to enjoy the book.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The plot is outlandish,a man losing all recollection of who he is,as he wakes up.Maybe Follett has written better books,I'll have to read more to find out. ...more
Janet Overington
Good reading with many twists & turns & a great sense of urgency towards the end.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This book, Code to Zero by Ken Follett, was great! It was exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, well-written and I couldn't stop reading the last 70 or so pages until I finished. Luckily, I sort of had the time. The story evolved fictionally around the historic Explorer 1 in 1958. I usually love Ken Follett's books, but I think this was more exceptional. The only thing, though, that I couldn't understand was the Epilogue's title. It read 1968. Was that a mistake? Or, did I miss something? I wen ...more
Nick Duretta
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The plot is pretty much standard spy-thriller stuff: a top-ranked official in the late 1950s U.S. space program finds that two colleagues are Soviet spies intent on thwarting an upcoming missile launch. What lifts this out of the ordinary is a twist: the man is given a drug that erases all his personal memory, so he must find out who he is before he can foil the plot. The 'amnesia' element is also often over-used, but Follett makes it distinct. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Correction 3 17 Jan 09, 2019 12:32PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mirage
  • Those in Peril
  • Under the Streets of Nice
  • A Forest of Eagles
  • U700
  • Return of the Eagles
  • Edge of Eternity: by Ken Follett (The Century Trilogy, Book 3) | Summary & Analysis
  • The Cobra
  • The Burma Legacy
  • Churchill's Gold
  • Shadow of the Dragon (Jack Ryan Universe #30)
  • Sabre
  • A Ilha das Trevas
  • The Marching Season (Michael Osbourne, #2)
  • Call of the Raven (The Ballantyne Novels, #0.5)
  • Fúria Divina (Tomás Noronha #4)
  • A Matter of Honor
  • Arch Enemy (Dan Morgan #4)
See similar books…
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of t

Related Articles

Ever wonder what bestselling authors like Sarah J. Maas, Neil Gaiman, Paulo Coelho, or Tayari Jones were thinking as they were writing?...
45 likes · 3 comments
“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.” 3 likes
“Perched on top of the pointed nose of the” 0 likes
More quotes…