Day Zero by Summer Lane
Series: Zero Trilogy #1
Publisher: Self-Published on October 10, 2014
Genre(s): Dystopian (YA)
Elle is a survivor.
Since the collapse of modern society, she's been living in the remains of downtown Hollywood, California, foraging for food and fighting for her life.
And then everything changes.
After she is forced out of her home, she heads north. What she finds is a group of bunker survivors, unlikely comrades, and the hope of a safe haven. Together, they journey toward the dregs of civilization, facing starvation, imprisonment and death.
They are alone, but they are ready.
Day Zero begins today.
Elle has been on her own since society collapsed and the modern world we’ve become accustomed to became a thing of past. Now scavenging for canned goods, hiding in abandoned buildings, and trying to escape the notice of armed gangs and the brutal new order has become the only way to live through each day. But for the first time since the world ended, she’s come across a group of survivors she just might stick with, and together, they’ll search somewhere safe.
I’ve read some really great books lately that focus on survivors of what is essentially the apocalypse. From Lissa Bryan’s world in which a flu-like plague wipes out most of humanity to Pauline Creeden’s incredible melding of zombies and aliens with the book of Revelations, I find myself wanting to read more and more stories of survival in collapsed world. So when I noticed that Day Zero was only 99¢ on Amazon, I decided to continue my post-apocalyptic journey. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t live up to my expectations.
The biggest issue I have with the story is simply that everything is too easy. Elle should be a typical teenager, a bit lost without iPhones and cappuccinos, but she’s been rather conveniently trained in both martial arts and gymnastics, which give her an edge that’s just not believable. It’s not that she’s just lucky or slightly better prepared than her peers; she’s presented as some kind of teenage badass who can outrun and outfight her would-be killers. Add in that she’s probably the only person who’s ever escaped from the death matches that darker society has decided constitute entertainment, can lead a rag-tag group of teams in besting the heavily armed and feared gang that outnumbers them at least ten to one, and ends up with a sword, and I was done believing any of it. Had she been raised in some kind of system that turned out teenage assassins and survivalists, or had she not so neatly escaped danger at every turn, perhaps I would have bought into the story more.
Despite how negative that all sounds, it’s not a terrible book. The scenario is intriguing, and there’s plenty of mystery to be resolved in later novellas in the series. Elle’s too disconnected to be very likable at first, but I suspect that will change as she spends more time with her new band of survivors and reconnects at a human level. And as is appropriate for this genre, the violence isn’t too gory or over-the-top for younger YA readers. I would venture say that while many YA books are great for any age, this one is probably better suited for the youngest teens, the ones who love falling into an adventure and won’t necessarily question the lack of fallibility in Elle. I already have my copy of Day One, though, so I may still give it a shot and see if it makes a better impact on me.