Book Review | The Secret Value of Zero by Victoria Halley

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value_zeroIn the last week I’ve decided to try the “Kindle Unlimited” service of Amazon which lets you borrow and read as many books as you like for a monthly subscription fee. In order to get the most value for money it’s obvious the more books you read the better value you get. Once you’ve borrowed more in value than the subscription fee, you’re in front for the month.

So it’s with this in mind I started trawling through my “To Read” backlog on Goodreads for something to read. Back in October 2013 I added this book – The Secret Value of Zero by Victoria Halley. I re-read the description and remembered why I wanted to read it, so set off to Amazon to borrow it.

Much to my surprise Amazon told me I already bought it back in October 2013. When I checked out the order details, I must have picked it up during a free promotion the author was running for the book. So while it didn’t get me closer to borrowing more than the subscription fee for the month, I was glad I found it again.

I started reading it on Monday night and finished it last night (Wednesday). I was reluctant to put it down each night, the characters and plot sucked me in and I had to keep reading. First things first though, the blurb:

What if your genes alone determined your value in society?

After a devastating global war, the Foreign Powers split North America, leaving two countries with no weapons, no resources, and no hope. One side, called Prosperon, devised a solution: allocating resources only to the ones with the highest genetic potential. The Stars and the Fivers—the smartest and the most able—get the most resources. The Squares and the Equis get the leftovers. The Zeroes get nothing. Prosperon keeps Zeroes alive for only one reason: to serve as subjects for inhuman scientific experiments.

Meke Lichota is a Zero, all because she was born without the ability to hear. When she wakes up one day with unexplainable side effects, Meke finds herself entangled in a war between mysterious revolutionaries and the government. The revolutionaries offer her a chance at a new life, but it is up to Meke to fight for a future that she believes in.

In the nation known as Prosperon your value to society is determined very early on in your life. The top scientists (the Stars) have developed a method of genetically testing children at the age of one and categorise them accordingly into a social hierarchy. Those deemed as most worthy get all the advantages, and the scale slides from there until you reach the zeros. Themes similar to Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World except people are elevated or dumbed-down after birth instead of during gestation.

Meke, our protagonist, was branded a zero because she was born deaf. Zeros are meant to be the lowest, literally the nothings of the world. They get no education and despised by all other ranks, even to the point where people flinch from them, thinking their stupidity to be somehow contagious.

But of course she’s more than zero she’s been branded with. She’s been taught how to read, how to sign, and she’s obviously wicked smart except nobody notices. When she’s rescued and thrust headlong into the revolution, she takes the opportunity with both hands. She refuses to bend to their wills though, holding fast to what she believes is true. She no longer wants to be the sum of the experiments she was forced to endure, but instead strikes out on her own path.

The fight is between Prosperon trying to maintain the utilitarian status quo and the revolutionaries who want to do away with the ranking system. Meke obviously wants to be more than a zero, but disagrees with the way the revolutionaries are trying to bring it about. She believes there is a better way and aims to prove it.

TL;DR Version

 An exciting Young Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi adventure that’ll appeal to adults as well (like me!). Check out the sample on Amazon and see for yourself.

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