Fifteen-year-old Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is ruled by extremists. Girls aren’t allowed to get an education, they need permission to speak to boys, and all marriages are negotiated by contract. But Mina’s grandmother has secretly been teaching her to read, leading Mina down a path of rebellion, romance, and danger that not only threatens to destroy her family’s reputation, it could get Mina killed. Suspenseful and empowering, Time Zero is about what it’s like to be powerless, underestimated, and manipulated and what it takes to go against society to assert who you actually want to be.
Time Zero takes a new spin on futuristic novels. One of the many issues that makes this one hit close to the heart is the fact that every rule Mina has to follow can be found somewhere in the world right now. The injustices can be found from the extremes across to the world to the current fight of gender equality in the workforce in the United States. While the religion is the book is fictional, elements of various religions can be seen. While this takes an extreme look at what a future in NYC might look like, the fear comes from the realism of it all. Rules and regulations, if mishandled, can create a community of fear. With this fear comes constant monitoring from a militaristic police force and even fellow neighbors (think Nazi Germany).
Mina’s voice is true and realistic. She has her moments of weakness but exhibits a strong sense of a developing self. Mina’s story draws the reader in and moves at a face pace. Carolyn Cohagan does a fantastic job in world building- taking the super familiar and making it feel like a distance, but not too distance, world. It is easy to understand the world Mina is living in – at times the easiness of accepting this world makes the plot even scarier. Cohagan includes dialogue that is rich and moves the plot along quickly. There are moments of fear that can be relieved with the tiny bit of humor Cohagan provides. Looking forward to book 2.
Readers of Dystopian and futuristic novels will really enjoy this new approach. Readers looking for a new genre will find Time Zero refreshing. Time Zero also has a twitter feed that connects real world events and issues with events that happen in the book and the issues that Mina faces. This is a great way to get a better understanding of world events and current controversies going on today.