The ZeroThe Zero
Year: 2006
Author: Jess Walter
Length: 640 minutes / 10.67 hours

I’ll be honest and say that I had no idea what this book was about before I started listening to it. Once I got into it, I could clearly see how the title and cover image related to the story at hand. It’s interesting to think that a mere five years after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, a book like this could be written. Of course, there is plenty of highly descriptive language that helps to cement the story to the reality of the tragedy. That being said, there are many situations in the plot that feel quite cynical, if not downright dark in their humor. Perhaps it’s this mixture of the absurd and the tragic that gives The Zero its interest.

I did find the memory gaps experienced by the main character to be an interesting literary device, especially in their transitions. For the main character to have a series of memory gaps to add to the eventual reveal at the end of the book, I almost felt like I was listening to the film, Memento (2000). Considering how much I love Memento, this was a good thing. The character only knows as much as the reader, which leaves him and us piecing together what happened at the same pace.

Despite its ability to poke at the ridiculous nature of the nationalism that resulted from this disaster, The Zero does show the effects of this national tragedy on its citizens. Loss can be hard to deal with, and everyone does so in their individual way. The poignancy of the narrative is true even today, more than 15 years after the events that transpired that day.

A cynical and often darkly humorous examination of the effects of 9/11, I give The Zero 3.5 stars out of 5.

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