*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
After questioning his employers, data technician Max finds himself fired and blackballed across the industry. Taking his insider knowledge, he gathers his friends in a daring plan to rip the curtains off the stage and make a stand. When they receive a mysterious invitation from a reclusive tech legend and access to his technology, their plans go further than they could ever expect. But what is the cost and is it worth the risk for Max?
I’ll apologise for this review in advance because like my reading experience, it was a jumbled up mess. There were so many moments that were quite thrilling, but in the end, Version Zero was not the one for me.
Where do I begin? I guess the setting and plot. Version Zero takes place in reality similar to our, same significant events. There are five major media companies; names are familiar enough that it doesn’t take much to know who represents which major corporation. I have to admit I didn’t understand what was going on in the beginning. Yoon introduces a pecking order that doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the book, a tidbit to make it seem more science fiction when the story could have quickly done without such information. The story didn’t work for me. Despite what appears to be an eventful plot from the synopsis, the story was messy and underwhelming. Reboot the present. Save the future. Version Zero tried very hard to be a book about human life online, and how we’ve given up privacy in the age of digital information. I was invested in the anger Max felt about these top percenter who hide from accountability on their platform, the hate that is a constant cycle that moves from site to site, taking innocent lives. I feel like it wasn’t as nuanced as it could have been and fell victim to the simple “internet bad, the time before good,” debate.
I could have forgiven this book for its flaws if the characters were remotely interesting. I wasn’t sure if the characters themselves knew what they were doing. Max, our protagonist, is our down and out, data technician who is fired when he mentions how uncomfortable he is with Wren (think Facebook) and their plans to gain more of their user’s information. There was a part of Max that I liked, the man who wanted to do good by his family, make something of himself. Every time he spoke, I could not feel any passion for the other stuff he says. The best way I could describe his voice is empty. He recruits his best friends, Akiko, and her boyfriend, Shane, in his plans to reboot the internet. It goes well, gaining the attention of Pilot Markham, a key figure in internet history, who disappeared off the face of the earth and wants to help in their fight. He’s joined alongside teen Brayden and together forms their group. I wish I knew what the hell was happening in this strange dynamic. Max harboured a crush on Akiko, partakes in emotional cheating and Shane is just there to be pure muscle and be weird. Pilot Markham was fascinating; to say the least, he’s responsible for most of the book’s thriller parts. I don’t understand how Max was willing to accept him into his plan, considering what you learn about his background. It just screamed red flags, and you would have thought Max would have picked up on it. Brayden, this poor child, why was he even there? Nothing meshed well, and everyone just contradicted each other in the worst way.
Overall, I wish I could saying something more positive that you could take away from this review. I tried to give it a chance. Max and his friends might have changed the world, but this project failed to spark any real interest in me.