4/5 stars. Dystopian, Young Adults, Aliens.
He has no voice or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.
Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.
His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.
Until a human kills her…
Sixteen-year-old Raven is at a summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her fellow campers can only stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless, but what choice does she have?
Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.
Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should hate and fear each other. But when Raven is injured and then Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…
Raven is a defiant, daring teen who takes a job at a summer camp as punishment for breaking the law. Luckily for her, her friends got caught as well, so she’s spending the summer doing much of the same with them and – more importantly – she is away from the populated areas when the Nahx come to town.
The Nahx are big and strong and they have one objective – to dart humans, which leaves their bodies frozen, still. They don’t decay. Eighth is a Nahx. He holds his hand out in front of him to follow Sixth, the female partner higher in rank than him. She leads him, she tells him what to do, and he follows.
But what happens when Eighth doesn’t have Sixth to follow anymore and Raven loses her boyfriend? How do they survive these lands that are unfamiliar without those meant to lead them through it?
Zero Repeat Forever immediately caught my eye the first time I saw a review about it. I bought it just a couple days later. I loved the cover with the gold and black colors and while I read the review, I realized the book was a dystopian with aliens based on earth – which is a type of story that I will read over and over again. So of course I snatched this one up!
Eighth’s character is one of my favorite characters that I have read in a while. The alien voice Predergast gives to him is so strange and ethereal, but also damaged. He’s hurt and afraid and he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He knows he’s different and he tried to cover it, but he doesn’t know if he wants to or if he should be.
Raven… I didn’t like her so much. I didn’t care for her voice or how people kept insisting that she was so tough, but she just seemed stupid, rash, and weak to me. She seemed to be a character the author wanted to write, but didn’t know how to. Eighth was tight and consistent, but Raven faltered. She felt like a catalyst for the story, a character trying to fill so many boxes that there wasn’t a chance for her to succeed.
She was supposed to represent diversity, be a strong woman, and be a place for Eighth’s humanity to shine through (who is part of a species basically committing genocide on all humans). All these elements in one character made Raven volatile, unreal, and inconsistent. The strong woman Prendergast tried to write wouldn’t work well to show the humanity of Eighth because that type of strong woman would never allow him to get close enough to see that humanity, even if she got 2 limbs chopped off, broken ribs, and dysentery, but Prendergast still tried to make Raven embody all of these pieces.
I loved the relationships Raven had with others. First, with her boyfriend (the one who dies at the jacket tells us so I’m not spoiling things). Raven goes through a period of time where this is the worst, but she is also stupid in the face of it in a human way – one of her only human ways. She begins to connect more throughly with her boyfriends brother, like she is trying to find in him the pieces of the one she lost. While this is not an admirable moment, people make a lot of mistakes when it comes to losing one you love. After his death, her boyfriend begins to lose the halo she placed over her head while he was alive and I like this, too, as it humanizes Raven. She got caught up in the big “L” word and ignored everything else about him. It’s refreshing for her to realize he wasn’t the best guy out there.
That is essentially where my tolerance of Raven ends.
But Eighth, my god, he pulls at my heartstrings.
I love reading dystopias and stuff with aliens because of two things: #1 How bad can humans become? and #2 How can other species express humanity?
Zero Repeat Forever touches on both questions, but mostly the second and Eighth is the catalyst for this. At first he follows orders, but he begins to learn, and he feels so alone, and he’s trying to do the right thing but he doesn’t know what that is. It is beautiful and he grows throughout the novel in a realistic and well paced way.
Speaking of pacing – it was all right. It was a bit slow in the beginning and took me forever to get through, but I wouldn’t change the pacing. I think it was necessary for the development of Eighth and his protectiveness of Raven.
I almost forgot to talk about the cover of this book. When I saw the cover, I was like, what does “Zero Repeat Forever” mean? Why is there a dandelion in glass orb surrounded by liquid metal??? After you read the book, it’s just like – oh daym that cover. Oh daym that excellent title. Oh DAYM ITS SO BEAUTIFUL AND MEANINGFUL.
But I can’t tell you why so you just have to read it.
This book gets no points for Raven and a billion for Eighth which evens out to 4/5 stars overall.
Get it from Amazon here.