In the very near future, a breakthrough in machine learning results in the ability for humans to digitize their entire bodies. Possibilities become endless as “zero percenters” — the name given to people who are zero percent flesh and blood — embark on pleasure-filled endeavors, while simultaneously solving all of the greatest problems previously facing humanity. Still, there are a couple of people who remain skeptical of zero percenters, and wish to stall their acclimation.
Zero Percenters, written by Scott T. Grusky, presents a compelling concept of a post-digital world that would be of interest to just about any sci-fi fan. The world that Grusky fleshes out at the beginning of the book suggests an exciting foray into the social and philosophical implications of such a technology. Combined with the quick pacing of the storytelling, readers are primed for an action-packed adventure with many ups and downs.
Yet despite the quick pacing and fantastical technology, Zero Percenters fails to deliver something that goes further than the surface of what a world like this would be like. It seemed as though the fast-pace was just Grusky rushing towards a preconceived finale.
There also seemed to be a lack of the aforementioned ups and downs that were expected given how quickly it became action-packed at the beginning. Most of the story felt like it was a little too focused on Anja’s pursuits with little outside danger presented to the protagonists. But that’s not to say there weren’t moments of serious conflict. It really just didn’t seem like there was much of a threat to any of the characters, even though it was clear that there was a powerful entity constantly looming in the distance. Nor was the nature of the antagonist really touched upon.
One great thing about Grusky’s writing was his ability to provide insight into the world of mountain climbing, meditation, flight and geography which were a few major aspects of the book. Whatever Zero Percenters lacked in conflict or exploration of technologies was made up for with insight into said subjects.
As such, Zero Percenters may be a good read for anyone looking for a fast-paced, easy-to-digest sci-fi novel that doesn’t go very deep into the nitty-gritty technical details. Interesting concepts are briefly explored, and the main character Anja is relatable and likable. However, readers may feel that the book lacks proper substance.