Review: The Zero
The Zero by Jess Walter
What’s left of a place when you take the ground away?
Answer: The Zero.
Brian Remy has no idea how he got here. It’s been only five days since his city was attacked, and Remy is experiencing gaps in his life–as if he were a stone skipping across water. He has a self-inflicted gunshot wound he doesn’t remember inflicting. His son wears a black armband and refuses to acknowledge that Remy is still alive. He seems to be going blind. He has a beautiful new girlfriend whose name he doesn’t know. And his old partner in the police department, who may well be the only person crazier than Remy, has just gotten his picture on a box of First Responder cereal.
And these are the good things in Brian Remy’s life. While smoke still hangs over the city, Remy is recruited by a mysterious government agency that is assigned to gather all of the paper that was scattered in the attacks. As he slowly begins to realize that he’s working for a shadowy operation, Remy stumbles across a dangerous plot, and soon realizes he’s got to track down the most elusive target of them all–himself. And the only way to do that is to return to that place where everything started falling apart.
I’m sure by now you all know how much I absolutely love Jess Walter! I always feel a bit of excitement every time I open up one of his books because I’m always blown away by his writing and his literary skills. The Zero was another one of Jess Walter’s books that I greatly enjoyed reading; however, it was quite different from his other books.
The Zero follows a Brian Remy, a cop in New York, as he tries to put his life back together following the 9-11 attacks. The narrative is jumpy because Remy has black outs or rather lapses in memory where he can’t remember what happens. So the narrative may stop in the middle of an important story to enter another story.
We follow Remy’s scattered life as he’s trying to figure out what’s happening and what he’s involved in. All he knows is that during his memory lapses he’s doing something bad and he wants to stop, but he can’t control it. At times it was a little frustrating following him around because we could never get the complete picture, but after a while I got used to the narrative and the jumpiness of it and just accepted it for what it was.
Although I really enjoyed reading this book, I’ll have to admit that this isn’t a book for everyone. The narrative is not straight forward and it leaves a lot for your own interpretations and forces you to draw your own conclusions.
The Zero is definitely a book that I would recommend, but I do hold some reservations on it because I know it’s not a book for everyone. I guess the main reason why I really enjoyed it is because it’s so different from what I’ve read before and it really makes you think about our society immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center.