Review: Zero G
I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. Last ones I got to were probably the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Amazon), which are brilliant good fun, especially when they’re read aloud. I was trying to remember what books I was reading around that age and realized that at 11 I was pretty deep into the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Amazon), thanks to my good friend Scot. It might be because of this, that I don’t remember reading an awful lot of funny, goofy, adventure romps like this one. There’s a part of me that thinks I might have missed out, but another that can’t help but remember how much I enjoyed reading back in those days. So I can’t have missed out on too much, can I?
ZERO G (Amazon) is the first in a series of middle grade stories by one of our favorite authors here at EBR, Dan Wells. The story is an Audible Exclusive for the first year of publication. After that, I would assume that there’ll be a dead-tree version, but that just seemed like so far away. I couldn’t help myself. So, I forked over six bucks and got myself a pretty good romp across the solar system in return.
Zero Huang is a 12-year old living on Earth, but at the start of the story he and his family are boarding a sleeper ship that’s going to take them to a new planet more than a hundred years of travel away. The plan is to get on the ship, jump in their stasis pods, and then wake up in orbit over the new planet. Nice. Simple. Easy. But if that’s all that happened, there wouldn’t be much of a story, now, would there?
The opening scenes had the-me-that-wears-a-dad-hat chuckling pretty good. Typical shenanigans abound between Zero and his siblings. The newness and wonders of being up in space, and enjoying the “Zero G” is all to much fun for Zero and the other kids. We quickly get to know who this kid is, the other members of his family, and the basic shape of the situation. Mr. Wells does a great job of making the story accessible and engaging, without coming across as condescending. He portrays the main character and the story being told in a way that makes it easy to believe that this is a kid you’d like to know… and one that you probably already know pretty well. lol. Who doesn’t know any goofy, fun-loving 12-year olds?
When the space pirates come onto the scene, it becomes immediately apparent how things are going to go down. This is a story by the numbers. Kid goes to sleep. Kid wakes up prematurely. Can’t wake anyone else up. Space pirates show up. Kid has to defend the space ship on his own. Think Home Alone in space, and you’ll be pretty close. But instead of Marv and Harry, it’s the Fratellis from The Goonies that come to wreak havoc with the best-laid plans of mice and men. That’s pretty much it to a tee.
There isn’t much that’s overly new here. In fact, the story uses a lot of similar setup and tropes that we’ve seen elsewhere. If you look hard, you can find things to complain about. Some minor plot holes. Some few explanations that don’t make exact sense. The writing gets a little choppy and explanatory toward the end. But the fact of the matter is that this story was a lot of fun to listen to. The voice talents that went into the Audible production were pretty good (I still don’t understand their somewhat annoying use of an echo chamber to simulate people talking on a spaceship, but whatever) and worth the time and effort that was put into the entire production. Impressively fun stuff.
Part Goonies, part Home Alone, all fun. 12-year old Zero Huang learns that traveling through space in stasis can be way more exciting than it sounds.
My guess is that you’ll probably find that a lot of kids are going to like this story, and if you can kick back and enjoy the story for what it is, there’ll probably be a lot of adults that do as well. In fact, you might find that you don’t have to even try all that hard to get pulled in. Wells is a great writer, and this is another example of him doing a fine job.
Definitely worth the time that I put into it. And the six bucks.
- Recommended Age: 12+
- Language: Can't say that I remember any. Very mild, if there was
- Violence: Juvenile pranks and spoken threats
- Sex: None