Day Zero by C Robert Cargill

Posted On 10 June 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book

Day ZeroIn a nutshell this is an incredibly entertaining story about one small boy and his tiger bot nanny.  It has just about everything you could want from such a story. It takes a look at issues such as slavery and artificial intelligence whilst at the same time exploring loyalty.  There are plenty of fun moments which help to offset the bloodshed and horror, lots of action and underneath that a very touching and heartfelt story about the love between a young boy and his plush anthropomorphic tiger.  What more could you possibly want.

I won’t elaborate too much on the plot.  This is a prelude to the wonderful Sea of Rust by the same author.  Rest assured that it isn’t necessary to have read that book before picking this up (although it is very good so why deny yourself the pleasure of reading it?)  This is a standalone novel with a self contained story in which we discover how the post apocalyptic world from Sea of Rust actually came about – and it’s a harsh story indeed that eventually concludes with humans wiped from the face of the earth.

As the story begins we meet Pounce.  I have to say that I adore Pounce, but more of that in a little while.  Pounce is coming to terms with the worrying notion that once his ‘charge’, Ezra, grows up, his role in the Reinhart household will no longer be necessary.  This hadn’t occurred to him until he found the box in which he was delivered stashed away in the attic and questions why the box was kept – obviously to return him once he’s no longer needed.  Pounce is shocked and a little sad, he loves his family and they love him don’t they?  Or is he just a robot, purchased to serve a purpose?  This is when Pounce begins to question things and become more aware of events taking place around him, a general sense of unease, tensions between humans and AI and a groundbreaking case where an AI known as Issac is given his freedom. Long story short – things are about to get real, by which I mean everything is going to kick off.

There are so many reasons that I loved this.

The writing is fantastic, Cargill is excellent at describing action scenes and also quite masterful at pulling you into the story immediately.  His sense of timing is perfect.  We no sooner meet the family and start to ponder Pounce’s dilema than the plot moves forward, again and again and before you know it you’re in the middle of the most unexpected adventure.  And I can’t deny that the adventure and action are just great.  It does have a sort of popcorn feel to it because things move along at a swift clip but there is also the thought provoking moments that continue to play a role in an ever evolving way and I love the shout outs to Asimov that are included here.  This might not be quite as deep as Asimov’s take on the theme but it is nonetheless really entertaining and a story that I think would make a great adaptation to the big screen.

The characters.  The main characters are Pounce and Ezra and they are a fantastic team to follow.  Kind of put me in mind of the second Terminator film with the young John Connor.  Ironically, at 8 years of age, the family were starting to consider whether or not Ezra still needed a nanny, thankfully that decision hadn’t been made before the uprising began and that’s probably the biggest piece of luck that Ezra ever had.  There’s so much more to Pounce than a plush and loyal tiger AI although I won’t say exactly why here because it’s such a woohoo moment when you discover his hidden talents.  The thing I particularly loved about Pounce was the time he took to explain things to Ezra and the way he treats him, even though he’s questioning his own choices at this point or more to the point how he came to make those choices, Pounce always has time for Ezra.  There are moments of pure tenderness between the two and those moments together with the humour that Cargill manages to throw in really help to offset the somewhat blood fuelled horrorfest when the AIs go on the rampage.  There are also a bunch of extra characters that come into play that I also really loved.

The other thing that I’m really hopeful about, given the ending, is that maybe Cargill has something more in store for this world – I have my fingers and toes crossed for that eventuality of course, that could be just plain wishful thinking on my part, not to mention I can sometimes be quite wide of the mark when it comes to second guessing things – but nothing wrong with a bit of speculation crossed with a bit of hope.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

5 Responses to “Day Zero by C Robert Cargill”

  1. Michael

    NetGalley granted my request for this one too. I’m eager to dive into it. Your review has made me push it up my TBR list.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I am so looking forward to Day Zero, and each new review I read rekindles my expectations… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Calmgrove

    This has obviously impressed you, Lynn, and you’ve brought out it positives very well—another title to keep in mind, methinks!

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Glad you enjoyed it so much! I was really endeared by Pounce 😀

  5. Tammy

    I loved this too! For me though, the ending felt just right. Knowing what’s coming with Sea of Rust, I personally don’t expect a sequel, although I certainly wouldn’t say no to one😁

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