Friday, January 13, 2017

Swarm - Scott Westerfeld

Summary: They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes.

These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers, and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground.

But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister.

Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him.

Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army? (Summary and image from

Review: One of the benefits of having superpowers--and superpowers friends--is that you can learn from your mistakes. But one of the downsides, your mistakes can be illegal.  They can blur the lines of right and wrong, those lines no one thought would ever be crossed, and if the lines are confused enough, those mistakes can be fatal.

I wasn't a fan of Westerfeld's first book in this series, Zeroes, which surprised me, because I've liked his books before. It surprised me that I decided to pick this up, and I blame it on the reading funk I've found myself in.  It's funny how not being a captive audience to my bed anymore has changed my reading habits.  It's not so easy to read when you're running amok making up for last time! (End Tangent) 

There were elements of Swarm that I liked better than its predecessor, but at the same time, I found myself wondering why I was reading it.  while the story was fairly predictable, (Yes, of course, there may be others like you.  There are six in your small town, why wouldn't there be more? Yes, one of them is a really bad guy.  No, not everyone wants to join your group, and yes, some of you will have similar powers.) there were enough elements of surprise that kept me reading.  Hooked, no. But interested enough not to quit, certainly.

To be honest, the superpower elements of the story weighed me down.  It was the interpersonal relationships between the Zeroes and their families, between the group of Zeroes themselves, that made for a more interesting story.  To be honest, the whole "drama/conflict" part dragged for me. I skimmed most of it, just wanting to get to the parts I cared about.

If you disagree with my original assessment of the first book and loved it, you'll absolutely love this one.  It improves upon the world Westerfeld has built immensely.  I'm not sure if it did enough for me to keep reading the series, but it was an improvement.

Rating: Two stars

For the Sensitive Reader: There is altogether too much talk of sex, with a scene or two that are truly uncomfortable to read.  There's a mass hysteria murder that is disturbing.  

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