Going Zero by Anthony McCarten

Hello dear readers. Let’s pretend I gave up blogging for lent… More on that later, but for now a review of a just released book…

Going Zero starts with a great hook: could you go off grid for 30 days to win $3 million dollars. But with a catch: what if the most sophisticated technology company in the world joined forces with the US government to find you?

This is right in the middle of our cultural moment. Dreams of going off grid, winning millions of dollars and sticking it to the big tech companies we both love and hate.

I was able to get an advance copy via NetGalley and when I dipped in to see what it was like ended up finishing it in a couple of nights. It turned out to be highly entertaining and fast paced. Great reading for Spring Break or reading around the pool during the fast approaching summer (heck, it will be nearly 80 degrees today in Ohio).

The technology involved is futuristic but all too believable. There are enough plot twists to keep the suspense up and the chapters are short enough that it is a quick read. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending but it made sense within the context and personalities of the story.

I could certainly see this being made into a movie or TV series. It has the feel of a well written screenplay flushed out into a novel. A tight, suspenseful, fast paced thriller with a dark undertone hinting at our potential dystopian future.





Ten Americans have been carefully selected to Beta test a ground-breaking piece of spyware. FUSION can track anyone on earth. But does it work?

For one contestant, an unassuming Boston librarian named Kaitlyn Day, the stakes are far higher than money, and her reasons for entering the test more personal than anyone imagines. When the timer hits zero, there will only be one winner…


This is a curious type of thriller, with sparse violence and no outright villains. The excitement is in the chase, which builds steadily. Is Zero 10 going to screw up their proof-of-concept software? The complications build, and the reader had better pay attention. Eventually, the government is looking for Kaitlyn’s friend Samantha Crewe instead, and both women have an emotional attachment to the missing Warren, who is Samantha’s husband. Meanwhile, is there a real cyberattack to deal with, perhaps the biggest data breach in history? The find-anyone-anywhere premise of the story will become increasingly relevant as the 21st century progresses. Good luck to American society.

This well-written yarn proves that you don’t have to have a blood bath to have an engaging thriller.

Publishers Weekly

McCarten taps into the current fascination—and revulsion—with modern advances in facial recognition, AI, and location data, though chase story fans may like more chase and less techno navel-gazing. This is an edgy, compulsively readable thriller.


The novel is arresting, thought-provoking and eerily visionary given a spate of recent news items reporting on sophisticated tracking systems as well as domestic spying on citizenry. Suddenly the imaginary world of science fiction or James Bond styled gadgetry has become a horrifying reality.


Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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