Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Zero World by Jason M. Hough

Zero World
Author:  Jason M. Hough
Publisher:  Del Rey, August 18, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
List Price:  $27.00 (print); $12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553391268 (print);  9780553391275 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Published in rapid succession, Jason M. Hough’s first three novels, The Darwin Elevator, The Exodus Towers, and The Plague Forge, earned mountains of praise and comparisons to such authors as James S. A. Corey and John Scalzi. Now Hough returns with a riveting near-future spy thriller that combines the adrenaline of a high-octane James Bond adventure with mind-blowing sci-fi speculations worthy of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.

Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

Includes the complete bonus novella The Dire Earth, a prequel to the bestselling sci-fi adventure The Darwin Elevator.

Qwill's Thoughts

With Zero World, Jason M. Hough shows that he is at the top of his game. The majority of the novel is set on Earth's twin which is startling in both its similarities to and differences from our Earth. From language differences to cultural and geopolitical differences Hough has captured in great detail how someone from our Earth would feel when being dropped in the deep end on Earth's twin. Peter Caswell is learning on the fly while hunting down a crew member missing from a spaceship in our solar system that had disappeared years before. He's a spy in a familiar yet strange land.

Peter Caswell is an incredible character - a clever spy with personal technology that helps him be faster and stronger among other things. However, even without the technology, Caswell is formidable. He's resourceful, smart and dangerous. He ends up having to rely on the help of a local, Melni Tavan. Melni is not just the 'Bond girl'. She's a fully developed and strong character who is an excellent match for Caswell. Melni helps him even though she has doubts about him. Melni is also full of surprises and has more of an ethical compass than Caswell.

There are unexpected twists, turns and revelations in Zero World that deepen the story. The world building and speculative science is well done and impressive. The pacing is breathtakingly fast and the writing crisp.

To say that I absolutely loved Zero World would be an understatement. Zero World combines everything I like about smart Science Fiction and edge-of-your-seat espionage thrillers with great characters and a genuinely engaging story. I hope that we will see more of Peter Caswell in our near future.


  1. Completely agree! This is sure to be one of my top ten favorites this year, I absolutely loved it as well. I tweeted a bit with the author, who told me that he doesn't yet have the go ahead from the publisher to write the sequel, they are waiting to see how sales of this book do. Can you believe it?

    1. I know! I am really really hoping for more Peter Caswell. Because ... all the stuff I tried not to reveal about the novel.