As I think I’ve mentioned before I am a very slow reader. I also have a tendency to get really into a book and then let it sit on my bedside table for a while as I switch to comics and trades for a while. Well, I picked Brad Meltzer’s The Zero Game a while ago on the discount table. I started reading it a while back and have been on and off for a while.
But I’ll tell you what, Meltzer really killed it with Zero Game. I don’t know if I enjoyed it quite as much as I did The Millionaires, but it still had a lot of the elements of his writing that I’ve come to recognize along with a few new tricks, which is always impressive.
Meltzer is the master at short, action filled chapters that keep the pages turning. And just about every chapter ends with a cliffhanger of some kind and then the next chapter picks up with another character, so you’re drawn back into THAT story.
But I can’t start talking about my favorite aspect of this book without SPOILER ruining a twist about a quarter of the way through. So consider yourself warned. We start seeing this tale of political intrigue through the eyes of one character in the first person and then the unexpected happens. That character dies. I was shocked. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the first person narative changes in such a manner (it switches to the victim’s friend). It’s a very effective storytelling element because you’re really not sure if our new hero, Harris, or his inadvertent sidekick Viv will really make it through to the end.
Aside from our main characters, Meltzer also serves up one of the coolest villains in the form of Janos. He’s the unusual kind of super slick criminal that doesn’t let anything stop him. He’s got enough experience under his belt to handle any and all situations and does so. The fact that he’s being given the runaround by a government dude like Harris only lends to Harris’ credit as a smart, creative hero.
Oh, there’s also a bunch of name references for comic book fans. There’s characters named Dinah and Barry. I feel like there were a few more (like three on one page) but I forget what they are now. It was actually a little distracting, but I can appreciate his homage.
If you’ve only read Meltzer’s comic book work, I highly recommend you check out one of his novels. Even though his Green Arrow arc is one of my favorites, he seems to have a hard time translating the break neck speed and super fast pacing of his novels into his comics (especially his JLoA work). There’s a reason he’s a big time author folks and you should check out one of his big time books. I’m also looking to add Book of Lies to the huge pile of books next to my bed.