Check out what I thought about ZERO DAY, a YA political thriller from debut writer Jan Gangsei!
Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.
Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.
When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.
It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?
Thanks to Hannah at Irish Banana for giving me her ARC!
I am not a big thriller fan, but the premise alone drew me in. I was curious about Addie, what had happened to her, and who she was now. I also am a sucker for stories about the president’s kid and happen to adore a Secret Service romance every now and again. The problem is I have a hard time finding them [note: there is no Secret Service romance in this book] [note note: but that’s okay!] and finding one I enjoy.
So let’s talk about this book. I was hooked right away. The first 150 pages worked SO well for me. I loved all the multiple POVs and the plot threads. It was fast-paced and written in a very accessible way. I have a hard time with thrillers because a lot of times they feel very distant and have way too much set-up and angsty characters. Do not worry about any of that in Zero Day.
What didn’t work for me was the believability aspect of some moments–namely Addie’s hacking skills. The ease of it kind of made certain moments convenient instead of having the characters earn them. The book builds towards Darrow being approached by the NSA, something the blurb isn’t clear about, and then very quickly thisthisthisandthis happens to make it happen which robbed some of the emotional impact for me.
Addie is the heart of this story: what side she is on, what happened to her, who is she now. She was super active the first half of the book, something I loved. I need active characters who drive a story. So when Addie became relatively passive after learning something life-altering it bothered me. But I loved seeing her development, how she reconnected with her family slowly and saw how they had changed and also stayed the same. I loved seeing how everyone coped with her kidnapping differently and Addie realizing everyone was affected by what had happened.
Darrow is the second main character and I was happy to see a person of color represented. I felt like there was a lot of Darrow still to explore, but I don’t want to say too much.
Addie’s kidnapping, though. I need to talk about all the amazing ways *spoiler* psychologically messed with her mind. But I can’t because *spoilers.* So trust me, this was done so well.
On the whole I think Zero Day is a fun read and would definitely pick up book two. Give it a try if you’re not a huge fan of thrillers. The multiple POVs and relatively short chapters make it enjoyable. It’s always moving, always changing. Even seemingly throwaway characters (and moments) reappear and have meaning, which gives it depth.
“Like I said,” Liz sighed. “It was how I coped. A part of me believed that if I could just make the world more secure, you never would have been taken in the first place.” [ARC, pg263–final quote may change]