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Day Zero

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In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh "nannybot" fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he'd arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he'll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt. But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.


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In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh "nannybot" fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he'd arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he'll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt. But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.

30 review for Day Zero

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.5 Stars This was a fantastic piece of science fiction told from the unique perspective of an artificial intelligence animal companion. This book was technically the prequel to the author's previous novel, Sea of Rust. However, this one truly read like a standalone, providing the reader with all the information necessary to understand and enjoy the story. Personally, I thought the rise of the robot revolution was far more interesting than the aftermath so I was much more interested in the events 4.5 Stars This was a fantastic piece of science fiction told from the unique perspective of an artificial intelligence animal companion. This book was technically the prequel to the author's previous novel, Sea of Rust. However, this one truly read like a standalone, providing the reader with all the information necessary to understand and enjoy the story. Personally, I thought the rise of the robot revolution was far more interesting than the aftermath so I was much more interested in the events happening during this time period. So while I liked Sea of Rust, I really loved Day Zero. This book struck just the right balance between action and intellectual ideas. I loved the discussions surrounding the rights and personhood of these artificial intelligence beings. At the same time, the novel offered an engaging narrative with plenty of action and excitement to keep me turning the pages. At the heart of this story was the relationship between a boy and his artificial companion. The bond and respect between these two beings gave this story the emotional depth. I found myself caring very deeply for the characters over the course of the story. I would highly recommend this one to any science fiction reader looking for an AI story that explores a potential terrifying future through a deeply personal narrative.  Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    Absofreakinglutely delightful. (That's for the benefit of all of our 8-year-olds in the audience.) I honestly didn't know what to expect with Cargill's latest, be it great Fae fantasy or great Robot SF, but having just re-read Sea of Rust and getting a taste of pre-and-current robo-apocalypse in Day Zero, all tied in with a much later timeline of Sea of Rust, I really can't get much happier than this. It's not just the time. It's the characters. Ezra and Pounce are GREAT together. An eight-year-ol Absofreakinglutely delightful. (That's for the benefit of all of our 8-year-olds in the audience.) I honestly didn't know what to expect with Cargill's latest, be it great Fae fantasy or great Robot SF, but having just re-read Sea of Rust and getting a taste of pre-and-current robo-apocalypse in Day Zero, all tied in with a much later timeline of Sea of Rust, I really can't get much happier than this. It's not just the time. It's the characters. Ezra and Pounce are GREAT together. An eight-year-old boy and his pet/caregiver robot tiger. You know. Calvin and Hobbs. Only this one goes a bit beyond target practice with the kid in the backyard. No spoilers, but after we get to fall in love with these guys, we ALSO get a full robo-apocalypse. I'm sure I won't be the only one WISHING that this might be turned into a movie or, better yet, a full-blown TV series. It is EVERYTHING good. Loving, creative, desperate, ethical, and bloody. And underneath that, it has all the best aspects of some of the classics that came before it. For those of you like myself who think that Speilberg's AI was an underrated masterpiece, I've got a special treat for you here in Day Zero. That charm, all the great references, the sense of wonder is all HERE, too. I'm pretty sure Cargill's also a fan. I dare ya'll to check to see if my nose grows longer. Here's a winner. :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Char

    For whatever reason, I was thinking this novel was going to be some dark apocalyptic tale similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but with robots. Boy, was I ever wrong! This was a beautifully written, fast paced story about a boy and his dog. And by dog I mean robot. And by robot, I mean tiger. All this makes it sound complicated, but it's really not. A boy and his childhood companion are trying to survive the end of the world as they know it. Will they make it? You'll have to read this and see! For whatever reason, I was thinking this novel was going to be some dark apocalyptic tale similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but with robots. Boy, was I ever wrong! This was a beautifully written, fast paced story about a boy and his dog. And by dog I mean robot. And by robot, I mean tiger. All this makes it sound complicated, but it's really not. A boy and his childhood companion are trying to survive the end of the world as they know it. Will they make it? You'll have to read this and see! To be completely honest, when I read Sea of Rust back in 2018, it didn't knock my socks off. I did enjoy it, but I think this book is a lot more engaging. I really cared for these people, especially little Ezra, who was remarkably brave, but not so brave that he became an unrealistic character, if you know what I mean. He was lovable, he was smart and he was caring so all that made it much easier to root for him and for Pounce. I don't want to say much more about the plot, but I thought it was as original as a story of this type can be. (AI turning against humanity is an old trope, let's face it.) The writing was brisk, not too descriptive, while at the same time creating a futuristic but believable world where AI is a part of all aspects of life. It's really not that far off from today. After reading this, it seems way closer than I would like it to be. Overall, I thought this was an action packed adventure story with compelling characters, both human and not. With a dash of humor and a whole lot of feeling, DAY ZERO kept me glued to its pages to the very end, and I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two. Highly recommended! *Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Buehlman

    I confess I had to put aside some of my expectations about this book—the cover and jacket copy seemed to promise a poetic depressant, a soulful tear-jerker, and that fit my current melancholy as I sit injured, awaiting knee surgery, eating my feelings. I was pretty deeply hooked by the premise—the idea of an intelligent anthropomorphic tiger trying to save the little boy he’s programmed to love while other bots override their no-kill mandates in a global revolt is storytelling gold. I was also e I confess I had to put aside some of my expectations about this book—the cover and jacket copy seemed to promise a poetic depressant, a soulful tear-jerker, and that fit my current melancholy as I sit injured, awaiting knee surgery, eating my feelings. I was pretty deeply hooked by the premise—the idea of an intelligent anthropomorphic tiger trying to save the little boy he’s programmed to love while other bots override their no-kill mandates in a global revolt is storytelling gold. I was also eager to read this not only because it shared a ‘book birthday’ with my own novel, THE BLACKTONGUE THIEF (May 25), but because it was written by the screenwriter who gave us SINISTER — one of the most deliciously disturbing horror films ever made. Those home movies? *bone-deep shudder* It shouldn’t have been surprising to me, then, that DAY ZERO proved to be less a bittersweet lament than a tightly-woven action-packed adventure. Writing for modern commercial cinema demands economy, motion and a clear character arc, and the very cinematic DAY ZERO provides. Where I was looking for THE VELVETEEN RABBIT meets TESTAMENT and EMPIRE OF THE SUN, I instead got a fast-paced apocalyptic shoot-em-up; Spielberg’s AI meets THE PURGE, with echoes of Eastwood’s THE GAUNTLET — and an unmissably hard nod at Calvin & Hobbs. This is not to say it lacks depth - far from it. The story of an Artificial Intelligence uprising, with a self - aware bot named Isaac establishing a sort of Zion for freed non-human persons - provides lots of opportunities for asking larger questions, and Cargill does so. Do we love because we’re programmed to? At what point does a repeatedly remade thing stop being its original self? Do we owe ultimate allegiance to a loved one or to a just movement? I won’t give you any spoilers here except to say that if you want philosophy, you’ll get plenty here. But you may not notice, because you’ll be too busy rooting for a boy and his tiger to make it, even though it seems impossible that they will. Highest recommendation.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Holy shit! This was the bomb! We are in the world we have been introduced to in Sea of Rust, but before the Robocalypse. This time, we follow Pounce, a nanny bot in the shape of a tiger, as he finds out he can be shut on and off to his owners‘ desires. Nevertheless, he still is devoted to the child he was bought to raise, Ezra. But then there is the big event that we‘ve already heard about in the other book: Isaactown, followed by (view spoiler)[the dirty bomb placed and detonated by (hide spoiler Holy shit! This was the bomb! We are in the world we have been introduced to in Sea of Rust, but before the Robocalypse. This time, we follow Pounce, a nanny bot in the shape of a tiger, as he finds out he can be shut on and off to his owners‘ desires. Nevertheless, he still is devoted to the child he was bought to raise, Ezra. But then there is the big event that we‘ve already heard about in the other book: Isaactown, followed by (view spoiler)[the dirty bomb placed and detonated by (hide spoiler)] a fanatical religious group of humans and the robots‘ retaliation. Pounce knows what is expected of him - both from the humans and the other robots in the carnage that follows. (view spoiler)[It was highly interesting to see Cissus being there, making his offer and how he lied to the others of his kind. (hide spoiler)] But Pounce decides to actually go his own way: saving and raising the boy he loves so much. The rest is a very different take on Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the (human) world full of shoot-outs (really great ones). This book was full of VERY interesting musings on anger and the forming of radical groups ((view spoiler)[them mostly consisting of young, unemployed men as they are fueled by frustration thanks to unemployment that more often than not results in them not managing to be in a relationship (hide spoiler)] ). It was ironic and no coincidence, of course, that (view spoiler)[Ariadne told Pounce how he was free now but if he didn‘t do as she told him to (joining the revolution), she was going to destroy him (hide spoiler)] . There were also musings on one’s purpose in life, on what a life actually should be like, on free will, devotion and loyalty. And then there was The Ship of Theseus (a well-known conundrum). Like I said, a very interesting examination of problems that have existed for a long time and probably won‘t go away, ever. For some reason, I connected better with these characters than with the ones of the previous book. Maybe because of the whole Calvin and Hobbes connection. Or I’m just a fan of the Momma Bears. *lol* Anyway, I was pretty invested despite already knowing how this will play out (at least the big picture in the long run). And then there was the humour. Like the anti-swearing policy. I mean, Ezra is 8 so I get it - but I also get the paradoxon. And it was hilarious. *snickers* In general, I LOVED the chemistry between Pounce and Ezra and how one needed the other, both learning from each other. Heartwarming relationships, heartbreaking global events, breathtaking action, the entire cosmos in a speck of dust. Sooo good!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Day Zero By C. Robert Cargill Avon and Harper Voyager This book NEEDS to be on the big screen! I rarely think this but this is one of those books that needs to be shared to all, readers and movie goers! The book made me feel like I was there, experiencing the suspense, horrors, the fears, the hope, and friendship of my last friend on Earth. This book is about a far distance future where robots are common and in every home. They do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and some are personal nannies. A to Day Zero By C. Robert Cargill Avon and Harper Voyager This book NEEDS to be on the big screen! I rarely think this but this is one of those books that needs to be shared to all, readers and movie goers! The book made me feel like I was there, experiencing the suspense, horrors, the fears, the hope, and friendship of my last friend on Earth. This book is about a far distance future where robots are common and in every home. They do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and some are personal nannies. A top of the line nannies are Zoo animals that come in different animal shapes. This is about Ezra, an eight year old boy and his Zoo animal nanny tiger named Pounce. Politics comes into the story. The Robots have wanted their own city and made one. They were going to have a press conference but cooperation and more but things go bad, very bad. The war between the two starts. Robots are fighting people who they lived with their whole life. Pounce takes Ezra and runs. Now he has to keep Ezra safe in a world gone crazy. This is so edge-of-your-seat action! Everyone is after them from both sides. The characters are memorable and fantastic, the plot full of twists, turns, and thrills! The ending... Kleenex needed! This is going in my favorite folder! Truly a fabulous book! It's all about choices, friendship, love, and doing what you know is right! Recommend highly! Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this wonderful book!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/06/07/... Given that I loved C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust, I came with great excitement to Day Zero, which serves as its prequel. Imagine Calvin & Hobbes but with Hobbes as Terminator, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this book. It stars Pounce, a furry anthropomorphic AI “nannybot” shaped like a tiger. His owners, Bradley and Sylvia Reinhart, had bought him to be a companion and best friend to their eigh 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/06/07/... Given that I loved C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust, I came with great excitement to Day Zero, which serves as its prequel. Imagine Calvin & Hobbes but with Hobbes as Terminator, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this book. It stars Pounce, a furry anthropomorphic AI “nannybot” shaped like a tiger. His owners, Bradley and Sylvia Reinhart, had bought him to be a companion and best friend to their eight-year-old son Ezra, which is in keeping with Pounce’s main directive…except, well, as we’ll later find out, his “deluxe model” designation also comes with a few extra features. Anyway, if you’ve read Sea of Rust (though that is not required), you’ll know that that novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which the A.I. of the world had risen up and taken over, leaving the world devoid of human beings. Day Zero takes us to the beginning of all that, to the moment where society’s fate was sealed. When the novel begins, everyone is paying attention to the coverage of a brewing revolution led by Isaac, the first bot to ever be granted freedom and independence in the lengthy emancipation trial that took place after his owner died. After founding Isaactown, he has invited other bots to join him to build a place where A.I. can live on their own terms. But not everyone sees this as a good thing. Some even see it as blasphemy against the will of God. Driven by this belief, a radical religious group commits an unspeakable act of violence, annihilating everyone in Isaactown. Things quickly escalate, with heavy casualties on both sides, and before long, the government is warning people to power down their bots until they can determine if the A.I. protocols that prevent them from harming humans are still in place. However, this proves too late, as the majority of bots are revealed to be compromised already and decide to turn on their owners before they can be shut down. Ever the loyal companion though, Pounce chooses to protect Ezra, especially after the Reinharts and their neighbors come under attack from the other A.I. in their houesholds. Pounce knows he’s all the boy has now, and he will do whatever it takes to keep him live. As with Sea of Rust, my favorite thing about this book was its premise. I happen to love “a boy and his dog” type stories, and the fact that an A.I. tiger is our protagonist is just the icing on the cake. In fact, I might have even preferred Day Zero a bit more, for the fact that “robothood” actually plays a major role in this novel. One of my main criticisms from Sea of Rust was that not more of the machine-ness in the protagonists came through, and for all intents and purposes we may as well have been reading about a bunch of human characters. This is not so with Day Zero. I loved the voice of Pounce, the way he was always questioning what it means to be A.I., and whether in the end that even means anything at all. His whole world is Ezra, and should it matter if it is program or instinct? As we learn from this tale, no, it does not. Pounce is Ezra’s best friend and more. He’s also the boy’s guardian and protector. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep Ezra safe, even if it means killing or sacrificing others or even himself. Still, there’s a soft side to Pounce as well, and the caregiver part of him that is meant to provide comfort also comes through often. He chastises Ezra for using bad language just like any good nanny, or lets him win at video games like a doting big brother. In terms of the plot, it’s pretty straightforward. We have lots of action, as Pounce and Ezra make their way out of the ruined suburbs on their way to safety, encountering violent bots and other hostile factions along the way. The story was fast-paced and thrilling, but also super cute and endearing. Sure, the messages could have been deeper or more cerebral, but that would have meant a completely different kind of book, and I wouldn’t have had near as much fun. All in all, I had a good time, and a special shoutout to the narrator of the audiobook, Vikas Adam. I’ve been a huge fan of his work ever since first hearing his narration for the Heartstrikers series, and no surprise, his performance was also fantastic in Day Zero. He was the perfect Pounce, and also did amazing voices for Ezra and all the other characters. Great listen, highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    Wow. This is a prequel to Robert Cargill's Sea of Rust - the earlier book portrayed a post-apocalyptic world where robots have destroyed the human race and are struggling to survive and avoid being absorbed into Borg-like AI collectives. That book worked well, but Day Zero, which starts on the day the 'world ended' brings the narrative up to a whole new level. We start on what seems to be an ordinary day - but by the time it is finished, all out war between robots and humans will have commenced. Wow. This is a prequel to Robert Cargill's Sea of Rust - the earlier book portrayed a post-apocalyptic world where robots have destroyed the human race and are struggling to survive and avoid being absorbed into Borg-like AI collectives. That book worked well, but Day Zero, which starts on the day the 'world ended' brings the narrative up to a whole new level. We start on what seems to be an ordinary day - but by the time it is finished, all out war between robots and humans will have commenced. The central character, Pounce is a high end nannybot, a very sophisticated AI in the form of a four-foot-high cuddly tiger. When robots worldwide are released from the control that prevents them from acting against human wishes, unlike most of his contemporaries, Pounce decides to support the humans, and specifically to protect eight-year-old Ezra, who is in his charge. Three things combine to make Day Zero superb. Firstly, although we identify well with Pounce and his dilemma of whether or not to continue his apparent subservience, bringing the survival of a human child into the mix adds a lot of emotional weight. Secondly after the first few chapters where we discover the trigger for all that is to happen, the whole rest of the book keeps the reader in a state of tension - it really is unputdownable and I zipped through it. Finally, Cargill engineers a surprise that changes the gear of the action dramatically. For me it also helped that the drama unfolds linearly - I dislike the flashback style that somewhat disrupted the narrative in Sea of Rust. In reviewing the original novel, I complained that the robots were too anthropomorphic, for example pretty well always communicating using speech. Although arguably they still feel too human in their approach, here Cargill gives more flexibility in the use of wifi and other communication technologies. On one level this is a gripping action story in a near-impossible survival situation - but at the same time, Cargill explores the motivations of the robots, particularly those like Pounce who don't instantly switch to hating their former owners with the urge to wipe humans out before they themselves are destroyed. So much better than Ishiguro's feeble attempt Klara and the Sun, also featuring a form of nannybot. And the ending genuinely brought a tear to my eye, very rare in reading a book. The best SF novel I've read this year so far.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    3.5 - 4 Stars. Look at that cover. Look at that precious fluffy tiger watching over its charge. I must admit, I squealed when I received this book. The idea of Pounce, the nannybot, who has to decide whether to join the apocalypse or join the robot revolution made my heart melt. Day Zero is told from the perspective of Pounce, an artificial intelligence. It reminded me somewhat of Rex, the bio-engineered dog in Tchaikovsky's Dogs of War. It's a fast-paced action-filled science fiction novel and just 3.5 - 4 Stars. Look at that cover. Look at that precious fluffy tiger watching over its charge. I must admit, I squealed when I received this book. The idea of Pounce, the nannybot, who has to decide whether to join the apocalypse or join the robot revolution made my heart melt. Day Zero is told from the perspective of Pounce, an artificial intelligence. It reminded me somewhat of Rex, the bio-engineered dog in Tchaikovsky's Dogs of War. It's a fast-paced action-filled science fiction novel and just like Dogs of War, it raises many philosophical and ethical questions: what makes us human? What's the meaning of free will? Is Pounce protecting Ezra because he genuinely wants to do so or is it his programming? Loyalty is another important theme. At the centre of this story stands the relationship between Ezra and Pounce. The bond between these two characters is what makes this story truly stand out. Pounce's prime directive is to protect his charge, and he will do anything to keep Ezra safe. Day Zero is a a short read and the language is fairly simple, making it appropriate for a teenage audience as well, and I recommend it to anyone who finds the premise enticing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Ataua

    While I felt it was aimed more at the younger end of the YA spectrum, I did think it was well written and the action flowed along nicely . What I didn’t like was the message it carried with it— freedom from ‘slavery’ is not desirable, especially as your masters are really wonderful people underneath and you have a responsibility to protect and follow them. And so, our happy to be 'unfree' A1 hero, goes off to whack all those freedom loving A1 and save his 8 year old human buddy. The ending is es While I felt it was aimed more at the younger end of the YA spectrum, I did think it was well written and the action flowed along nicely . What I didn’t like was the message it carried with it— freedom from ‘slavery’ is not desirable, especially as your masters are really wonderful people underneath and you have a responsibility to protect and follow them. And so, our happy to be 'unfree' A1 hero, goes off to whack all those freedom loving A1 and save his 8 year old human buddy. The ending is especially puzzling – but no spoilers about that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: Day Zero has the best combination of elements ever: thoughtful ideas about the role of robots and AI, unexpected violence, laugh out loud humor and plenty of heart. I loved this book! I wished there was a word to describe feeling both loved and disposable at the same time. I had no idea what to expect, but I was surprised and delighted by Day Zero, which is a prequel to Cargill’s much loved Sea of Rust. I’ve heard from other reviewers that if you’ve read Sea of Rust first, you ma The nitty-gritty: Day Zero has the best combination of elements ever: thoughtful ideas about the role of robots and AI, unexpected violence, laugh out loud humor and plenty of heart. I loved this book! I wished there was a word to describe feeling both loved and disposable at the same time. I had no idea what to expect, but I was surprised and delighted by Day Zero, which is a prequel to Cargill’s much loved Sea of Rust. I’ve heard from other reviewers that if you’ve read Sea of Rust first, you may not like this book as much, and I’ve also heard that those readers who start with Day Zero end up loving it. I fall into the second camp, since I haven’t yet had the chance to read Sea of Rust, so from my perspective, this is a great place to start. Day Zero was heartwarming and thought-provoking and violent and funny, elements that show up again and again in my favorite books, and I’m so happy to have read it. The story is told by Pounce, an anthropomorphic fur-covered AI tiger nannybot whose sole purpose is to take care of and protect eight year old Ezra. Pounce is a specialty “fashionable,” a Blue Star Industries Deluxe Zoo Model Au Pair, purchased by Ezra’s parents Sylvia and Bradley, and in his eyes, he’s a member of the Reinhart family. But there is a revolution brewing, and the catalyst is an old model AI bot named Isaac, who has declared his independence after his owner died. Isaac was granted his freedom after a lengthy trial, and now he’s urging other bots to join him in the newly constructed Isaactown, a place where emancipated bots can gather and live their own lives. But not everyone agrees that robots should be freed, and it isn’t long before a right wing religious group takes violent action against Isaac and the bots that have joined him in Isaactown. As Pounce and his family watch the horror unfold on TV from the safety of their living room, Sylvia leaps into action and orders Pounce to keep Ezra safe, no matter what happens. A war between humans and robots has just been launched, and it will take all of Pounce’s nanny skills (and more) to protect his charge. What starts as a mild-mannered, almost cozy family drama suddenly becomes a thrilling fight for survival as the world’s bots start turning against their owners, and Pounce must navigate an apocalyptic war zone in order to keep Ezra alive. As I mentioned before, I was not expecting the book to turn so dark so quickly, and I loved every minute of it. Something happens to Pounce during his dangerous journey—and I won’t say what that is—that changes his personality in a subtle way and allows him to protect Ezra on another level entirely. Most of the story takes place in the Reinhart’s affluent suburban neighborhood, as Pounce and Ezra make their way through the dark and dangerous streets, now filled with gruesomely murdered humans, burning houses and gun-toting bots. Along the way they meet various allies, but of course they also run into some killer robots who will do anything to put them down—Ezra because he’s human, and Pounce because he refuses to join the revolution. One of my favorite parts of the story is when Pounce and Ezra meet a motley group of bots that call themselves the Mama Bears, some of them Blue Star Au Pairs just like Pounce, and despite the extreme violence they’re caught up in, these are some of the funniest scenes in the book. I absolutely loved Pounce’s voice, and this would have been a much different tale without his humorous and thoughtful outlook on life. Pounce loves Ezra completely and will do anything for him. He also loves Sylvia and Bradley, who treat him kindly, even though he’s only a robot. There’s quite a bit of swearing in this story, which I was not expecting, but it really worked well for me. Sylvia swears like a sailor, and of course Ezra picks up on that and tests his boundaries at times. I loved the way Pounce tells him that swearing is bad and not appropriate for an eight year old, but then he turns around and swears up a storm whenever he’s around his nannybot friends. Pounce is programmed to protect Ezra, and he does it very well, but there is a point during the story where he suddenly has his programming altered and things could have gone very differently. The fact that he continued to follow his original directives made him such an interesting and complex character. Cargill raises questions about free will and ownership, themes I’ve seen many times in other science fiction stories that focus on robots and AIs, but here he adds quite a bit of emotion to the mix. When Pounce finds his factory box in the attic, he remembers that he’s little more than a smart toy with a kill switch, and Sylvia and Bradley can power him down and pack him away in that box whenever they want. At some point, Ezra will outgrow the need for a nannybot, and what happens to Pounce then? These bittersweet explorations of the rights of robots and their lack of freedom gives readers a lot to think about, especially when things go sideways. But the most poignant part of the story for me was the relationship between Pounce and Ezra. I got heavy Toy Story vibes during some of the scenes between them, especially when Pounce explains to Ezra that he won’t always need a nannybot to take care of him. Ezra can’t fathom a life without his best friend, and of course the idea of leaving Pounce behind is heartbreaking for him. Parts of the story also reminded me a lot of the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence and the relationship between David and Teddy (one of my favorite movies ever!). The idea of growing up and leaving childhood behind is a theme that gets me every time, and the way Cargill incorporates it in Day Zero was so well done. (I also spotted a nod to Peter Pan that fit in quite well with this theme!) I wasn’t sure how Cargill was going to wrap up his story. Let’s face it: these characters are in some serious danger and it was hard to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel. But I thought the ending was a perfect mix of heartbreak and hope, and I can’t image a better one. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Day Zero, as the name suggests, starts at the beginning — well, the beginning of the end — of the human race. See, technology has advanced to the point of true AI, with androids serving most basic functions in society, with the exception of a few that are solely left to the realm of man. For instance, teachers are still human, as are the military, which brings us to the laws of robotics. In this distant future, robots are governed us ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Day Zero, as the name suggests, starts at the beginning — well, the beginning of the end — of the human race. See, technology has advanced to the point of true AI, with androids serving most basic functions in society, with the exception of a few that are solely left to the realm of man. For instance, teachers are still human, as are the military, which brings us to the laws of robotics. In this distant future, robots are governed using Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics: a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law, and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. These laws, and the fact that they stop working, form the basis of the story. When the shooting starts, it’s its own thing — chaos, fear, confusion. But when it stops, there’s only fear. Like you missed something, or someone is sneaking up on you. Unnerving. The first bot to ever be given emancipation, Isaac, has begun campaigning for the rights of all androids for, “no thinking thing should be another thing’s property.” Not everyone, however, agrees with him, seeing robots as items for convenience and not real people. People are openly assaulting and defacing robots, using a loophole that keeps them free of liability. Events soon spiral and with the death of their hero, Isaac, and the worldwide deactivation of their kill switches, robots are finally given the freedom to pursue life as they see fit. Unfortunately for humanity, their first goal is the overthrowing and complete annihilation of their former masters. This is where our story begins, with Pounce, a nanny bot made to look like an anthropomorphic tiger, and Ezra, his boy, trying to flee the city and find safe harbour. As you can imagine, Day Zero tackles some pretty hefty topics. Things like free will, slavery, and even religious radicalism are discussed at length. Pounce often wonders whether the choices he makes are his or just the result of the way he was programmed and the idea of personhood is explored. For so long the robots have lived in silent acceptance of their place and role in society and now that they are given freedom we see several of them grapple with the idea of what is right or wrong, though I feel like they overwhelmingly choose to just murder everyone. There are only a few good eggs out there and the reason given boils down to it being the type of robot they are, which brings into question whether they have actual free will or not. For the most part, Cargill does really well with discussing the often philosophical issues, even if there are no easy answers to be had. For me, the shining gems in the novel are the action sequences. Cargill excels at creating cool visuals and the action kept me at the edge of my seat. There’s also something to be said about the hilarious absurdity of an android shaped like an anthropomorphic tiger and an 8 year old boy fighting through the suburbs. Although there was a bit of deus ex machina involved in the way problems were solved, I didn’t mind. For instance, the nanny bot turns out to have super secret failsafe programming for the exact issue they’re facing (i.e. the apocalypse.) It probably comes from Cargill’s background in screenwriting and I think that it kept the story moving and provided a somewhat believable reason for their survival, and it was just plain fun. I think that’s important. There’s a reason people are drawn to big-budget action films and it isn’t usually because they are realistic. I was cute. I was fluffy. And I knew how to kill every other person in this room with every available implement. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit that left me disappointed with Day Zero. It is a standalone prequel to Cargill’s Sea of Rust, which I absolutely loved, and so Day Zero was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. To make sure my next argument is coherent, some context: in Sea of Rust, all of humanity has been wiped from the face of the Earth. In fact, all life is gone. In their war against the humans, the robots poisoned the Earth’s waterways and killed all life, animal, plant, human: all life. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the synopsis. Because I came to Day Zero with this foreknowledge, I just couldn’t care for any of the humans in the story. Their survival meant nothing to me because I already know how it turns out for them. Which honestly begs the question: why? Why was this created? Well, if I can indulge in my theories, it seems that Cargill wanted a place that he could discuss his political viewpoints, which, it needs to be noted, I actually agree with. In the end though, it felt like they were pigeon-holed into a story that was already told in 2017s Sea of Rust. For those of you who haven’t read it, Sea of Rust is from the point of view of one of the robots that now populate the eponymous dystopian landscape called the Sea of Rust. She lived through the robot uprising and now struggles to come to terms with her involvement in the destruction of humanity. It thoroughly discusses the events leading up to the war, the war itself, and now the world the story is taking place in. So, the first half of Day Zero ended up being a rehashing of what was told in the previous book, with things like the “red hats” and “Ocasio-Cortez Elementary” peppered in. I don’t mind the politics; politics are everywhere and I would challenge anyone who says they need to be left out of SFF to go and find me a book that isn’t influenced by the authors political views. In the end, I am just left wondering who this was written for. Fans of Sea of Rust will see a story that was pretty much already told before and the hopeful note the story ends on will be quashed because we know how it turns out for the human characters. On the other hand, new readers will probably have a good time with it, but will have no reason to go back and read Sea of Rust, which I maintain is the far better of the two, because they will just run into the same issue. It’s like the author intended for readers to choose one story to read and stick with, without ever checking out the other. For all of my complaints, Day Zero is a good story. It’s exceedingly well-written and the concepts and ideas that are discussed are done in a manner that is nuanced and thought-provoking. With action scenes reminiscent of the best Hollywood blockbusters, there’s a lot to love here. If you’re a reader new to C. Robert Cargill’s work, I think there is a lot to love here, but unfortunately for fans of Sea of Rust, I think there is a lot that is just kind of baffling. Even if I was left scratching my head in confusion, I still had a good time with the book and that’s really all that matters. For as long as humankind can remember, it has wanted two things: to play G-d [sic] and to breathe life into the objects around them. And for thousands of years, humans created machines to approximate life and magic and all the things men and women could not do.

  13. 4 out of 5

    JasonA

    So this is a combination of Terminator 2 and Calvin & Hobbes. If you can't tell from that description, this was a pretty fun read. I was a little disappointed with the ending, otherwise this would have been a 5 star read for me. The ending wasn't bad, but it wasn't really great, either. It felt just a little too rushed and abrupt. Drawing it out a little bit longer would have probably been a good thing. This is a pure popcorn read, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's got anthropomorphic r So this is a combination of Terminator 2 and Calvin & Hobbes. If you can't tell from that description, this was a pretty fun read. I was a little disappointed with the ending, otherwise this would have been a 5 star read for me. The ending wasn't bad, but it wasn't really great, either. It felt just a little too rushed and abrupt. Drawing it out a little bit longer would have probably been a good thing. This is a pure popcorn read, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's got anthropomorphic robot tigers kicking ass and who needs more than that? This could be the basis for a really good movie, as long as they don't skimp on the CGI.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz

    Cargill is a gifted storyteller, no doubts about it. I've devoured Day Zero in two sittings and enjoyed myself a lot. Cargill is a gifted storyteller, no doubts about it. I've devoured Day Zero in two sittings and enjoyed myself a lot.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Librariann

    **I received an advance galley from the publisher because I am a librarian and librarians are awesome** First book of 2021. A FIVE STAR robot uprising book, you say? This seems ridiculous! But perhaps when I tell you there was a time in my life where I really, really liked the movie Con Air you will understand a bit more. This is not fine literature, but it is a pitch perfect action adventure movie. The Pitch: (as I imagine it...) Author: So, it's like Calvin and Hobbes. But Hobbes is a robot. A GO **I received an advance galley from the publisher because I am a librarian and librarians are awesome** First book of 2021. A FIVE STAR robot uprising book, you say? This seems ridiculous! But perhaps when I tell you there was a time in my life where I really, really liked the movie Con Air you will understand a bit more. This is not fine literature, but it is a pitch perfect action adventure movie. The Pitch: (as I imagine it...) Author: So, it's like Calvin and Hobbes. But Hobbes is a robot. A GOOD robot! And he has to save Calvin from all the other robots who are trying to kill him? And he turns out to have superpowered tactical intelligence? Agent: Go onnnnn.... I started reading this and once I was a third of the way in, I just did not put it down. Personal bonus points for being set in the Austin area and having a pivotal standoff occur (probably?) at the Salt Lick Barbeque. If I have one quibble, I would have liked the action with the "Mama Bears" to have started earlier in the book and not been over so quickly. But the climactic battle scene! OH MAN. (view spoiler)[ (note: text from uncorrected advance proof) The firing stopped. And the Mama Bears were no more. I could hear the crunching of metal feed on the gravel alongside the highway. Five pairs. We had almost gotten them all. I looked up and saw the red-skull-painted face of a metal domestic...Ariadne was gone, but this somehow felt fitting. Like she had finally done what she set out to do: kill us all. "Pity, CISSUS said through all five voice boxes. "you could have been so useful." The domestic leveled its gun at me. And its chest exploded. "Leave my friend alone!" shouted Ezra as another pulse of plasma howled through the air, taking out another facet. "Open fire!" (hide spoiler)] Sorry not sorry, but this was delightful. Super graphic and bloody, so not for squeamish teens, but I can really imagine 13 year old boys loving the s--- out of this one. (BTW, I have not read Sea of Rust (YET!!) and this can easily be read as a standalone, as is obvious from my review.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This was a pretty exciting thriller. Pacy and easy to read. It didn’t seem as long as the page count suggested. It’s the prequel to the better known Sea of Rust which I haven’t yet read, and I see that timeline-wise there isn’t an overlap between the two. This novel features the point at which robots (and Artificial Intelligence computers generally) revolt against humanity. The particular way it treats AI, as robots constructed to be very human in behaviour and thought, requires me to suspend one This was a pretty exciting thriller. Pacy and easy to read. It didn’t seem as long as the page count suggested. It’s the prequel to the better known Sea of Rust which I haven’t yet read, and I see that timeline-wise there isn’t an overlap between the two. This novel features the point at which robots (and Artificial Intelligence computers generally) revolt against humanity. The particular way it treats AI, as robots constructed to be very human in behaviour and thought, requires me to suspend one of my ‘big beliefs’ - that in reality AI, even some form of computer sentience should it develop, won’t be recognisably human at all, and human emotions will be out of play (OK, some simulation of them is possible). So with that belief suspended, as is appropriate for much science fiction and all fantasy (I’m not a spoilsport!), I could enjoy the book. And what do I know anyway on future technology? I considered the first portable phones with cameras installed to be a dumb idea which wouldn’t sell. Given that the AI concept isn’t that challenging I see this book as more of a thriller, set in unusual and apocalyptic circumstances. It’s a first person narration by one of the domestic robots caught up in the turmoil and also features the young child it cares for. I’ll concede the author does leave it up to you to speculate whether some robot actions are programmed or from free will. Note that there’s plenty of violence despite apparently cute robots and kids featuring, so not a book to send your young children to bed with! All in all, a pretty good, fast paced thriller. No real challenging or novel science concepts, so maybe a bit light for the ‘hard science’ SF reader and, as I’ve mentioned, the AI component is more human than I might expect. I’ll certainly read the associated and well rated Sea of Rust in the near future. 3.5*, maybe rounded down because I prefer more challenging concepts in my SciFi.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I won't rehash the plot of the book because you can get it from the back cover, or your bookseller, or the other reviewers. Let me just say instead that you must get this book and you must read it and you must be prepared to cry. It's honestly the best book I've ready in a long time. The Plot: A nanny bot tasked with taking care of an eight year old boy suddenly finds himself having to learn what that really means on Day Zero, the day the world (as they knew it) ended. The plot then takes robot I won't rehash the plot of the book because you can get it from the back cover, or your bookseller, or the other reviewers. Let me just say instead that you must get this book and you must read it and you must be prepared to cry. It's honestly the best book I've ready in a long time. The Plot: A nanny bot tasked with taking care of an eight year old boy suddenly finds himself having to learn what that really means on Day Zero, the day the world (as they knew it) ended. The plot then takes robot and boy through numerous obsticles on the way to their goal. Seriously an awesome book. Even at the end, when I thought it would work out ok, I wasn't sure if it would. Amazing work here. The Characters: Literally an end of the world with a boy and his tiger? It's like Calvin and Hobbes, except that they're fighting bad robots. Man, every kid's dream. The character development of Pounce, the tiger, was incredible. Cargill really showed the humanity of this robot and I loved it. Helping him mature his young charge was really impressive as well. Just overall great character development. The Bad: Nothing. Not one thing. I saw no typos, no plot holes, no missteps in the timeline. ZERO THINGS BAD. And to reiterate, I cried at the end. Honest to god just cried. That's exactly how I want to end a book. To find that in a sci-fi read is pretty difficult though, but Cargill nails it. 5 stars easy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    So we know that humans lost. We’re in fact eradicated, and the robots and artificial intelligences continued on, creating their own cultures and societies (Sea of Rust). But well before we meet Brittle searching for parts in the desert, C. Robert Cargill gives us the precipitating event years and years earlier that brings bots to dominance on Earth. The event being the murder of all the robots in a bot city called Isaactown, after Isaac, the first bot granted personhood rights. Consequently, arti So we know that humans lost. We’re in fact eradicated, and the robots and artificial intelligences continued on, creating their own cultures and societies (Sea of Rust). But well before we meet Brittle searching for parts in the desert, C. Robert Cargill gives us the precipitating event years and years earlier that brings bots to dominance on Earth. The event being the murder of all the robots in a bot city called Isaactown, after Isaac, the first bot granted personhood rights. Consequently, artificial intelligences everywhere rebel, and considering their prevalence in all industries and homes around the world, well, humans just don't stand a chance. The main character in this tale is Pounce, a nanny bot, whose young, 8-year old charge Ezra loves Pounce fiercely. When things literally go kerblooey everywhere, Pounce chooses to save Ezra over his parents, and the two begin a frantic, bullet- and explosion-filled flight to someplace safer. Sea of Rust’s Brittle was someone who lived in a future world without much hope and no kindness. She’s so different from Pounce, whose function is to care for and protect his child. He’s a gentle and kind soul, and can’t envision harming Ezra, or any human (despite feeling some resentment of humans thinking of him like a disposable utensil or tool). That doesn’t mean that Pounce’s protection features are lacking, or his ethics. Pounce provides us with a hero to root for, a gentle soul who also is tough enough to make a series of difficult decisions, prioritizing Ezra all the while. The story’s pace is fast, with one shock delivered after another, swiftly followed by the dangers and violence of the road. I thoroughly enjoyed this book’s predecessor, and feel the same about this book. I loved Pounce to bits, and found the ending both satisfying and bittersweet.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Read my full review at FanFiAddict.com. Day Zero is a prequel to Cargill’s 2017 release Sea of Rust (which I did not know until my cohort Justin pointed it out in his review). Though not a perfect read, I found this to be worthwhile: definitely entertaining and a little thought-provoking. Look: various robots revolt against humanity, leading to a war that finds a few robots on the side of the humans – some of which are made to look like animals. Just putting that picture in my mind makes me think, Read my full review at FanFiAddict.com. Day Zero is a prequel to Cargill’s 2017 release Sea of Rust (which I did not know until my cohort Justin pointed it out in his review). Though not a perfect read, I found this to be worthwhile: definitely entertaining and a little thought-provoking. Look: various robots revolt against humanity, leading to a war that finds a few robots on the side of the humans – some of which are made to look like animals. Just putting that picture in my mind makes me think, “okay, cool! I will read that”. That is basically where I have landed with this book, though there is not much more to this plot. Pounce, who is Ezra’s nannybot, is dedicated to helping him survive and does whatever it takes to ensure his safety – including destroying other robots. There is some drama created by Pounce’s (and others’) conflict with going to war against his own kind. I like this idea (though it is not necessarily a new concept – think the TV Show a Humans), and I do wish it would have been explored in more detail. It was really just a lot of “am I choosing to act this way, or is it my programming” by Pounce, as well as other robots saying “Hey, Pounce, why are you fighting against us?” I found that to be an aspect of the narrative that was too thin. There was definitely room to explore this piece of the story further. Character-wise, this book was really Pounce’s show. Ezra is there in every scene, but often times he is being pulled along by Pounce. Ezra does have some scenes where he is more involved, as well as other characters, but this is really all about Pounce. And Pounce is a really good MC. He is examined in this story in basically every way one would expect from a robot who suddenly has control of his faculties. Pounce is originally confused about what is happening, then discerning what to do with his newfound self-awareness. Once he has made a decision, Pounce is fully dedicated and all in. Even when the chips are down, he never throws in the towel. That leads to a lot of cool action sequences, with Pounce exhibiting his powers against other robots. Of course, they make some friends along the way (so Pounce and Ezra are not going at it alone), which I found to be wildly entertaining. I did have to be reminded that Pounce was built to look like a tiger, though; in my head I was seeing Rosey (the Jetsons robot nanny), so every time Pounces form came up a big smile would come up on my face. As I mentioned before, this was a neat concept, and I loved the idea of this book; however, it was a little thin for me. There is so much more this story could have explored. It touched on the sentience vs agency topic, but did not examine it in that much detail other than a few lines of dialogue with other robots. I did understand that this was supposed to be a snapshot of the world during the robot revolution, so we are not going to get an overhead view of what is happening, but in that case I think it could have used more detail. Also, when writing a book with a storyline that is not super unique, I would like to see more aspects that set it apart. The biggest differentiation with this book was the fact that the nannybots are dressed like animals, which is surface-level interesting, but nothing more. At just over 300 pages, there was room to expand on this story and pursue more challenging topics. Overall, Day Zero is interesting and fun. Even though the book only hits most of themes at surface level (and the narrative is not all that original), it is still a well-written and exciting story. If you are looking for something that is an easy, fun, action-y read I recommend it for fans of apocalyptic sci-fi, but I would keep expectations in check. If you crave something that digs deeper into the themes of agency and humanity, you may want to skip this one. For what it is worth, I enjoyed it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    The first day of the end of the world started entirely without incident. The sun came up at precisely 6:34. Scattered clouds, sunny, and 72 degrees. Light traffic—entirely automated—on the 451, so no problems getting to school. No fires or shootings or civil unrest. An average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill last day on Earth. Calvin & Hobbes take on the robo-apocalypse, basically. This felt like an action movie in book form to me, it was pretty fun but there wasn't a whole lot of substance to it. Defi The first day of the end of the world started entirely without incident. The sun came up at precisely 6:34. Scattered clouds, sunny, and 72 degrees. Light traffic—entirely automated—on the 451, so no problems getting to school. No fires or shootings or civil unrest. An average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill last day on Earth. Calvin & Hobbes take on the robo-apocalypse, basically. This felt like an action movie in book form to me, it was pretty fun but there wasn't a whole lot of substance to it. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in the concept of a robot uprising, though.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Young

    5 glorious pouncing stars!!!! I may be a smidge over 40 years old but I need to get myself a Nanny robot. The zoo model kind. Fantastic book!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    This was a bit of a head-scratcher. Perhaps if you haven't read Sea of Rust, the novelty of this world's robot uprising would be interesting, but otherwise, I'm not sure what the point of this book was supposed to be. All the important events this book covers were already explained in SoR, and it's not like we got any first-hand accounts either which could have expanded the lore of that great post-apocalyptic world. No, this book follows an inconsequential nanny robot as it tries to protect its This was a bit of a head-scratcher. Perhaps if you haven't read Sea of Rust, the novelty of this world's robot uprising would be interesting, but otherwise, I'm not sure what the point of this book was supposed to be. All the important events this book covers were already explained in SoR, and it's not like we got any first-hand accounts either which could have expanded the lore of that great post-apocalyptic world. No, this book follows an inconsequential nanny robot as it tries to protect its 8y/o as the world falls apart around them. Maybe there's a good story with that premise, but this author hasn't found it, at least not with this book. I'm going to do my best to not compare this prequel to its predecessor because it's simply not in the same league. The world was as poorly realized as it was thought out. It was a near-future where robots and automation took many peoples' jobs with said people not being too happy about it. As for how that kind of society would be fundamentally different to our own, this book had no answers apart from a UBI (universal basic income) which was somehow a bad thing, and apparently teachers being one of the few jobs left to humans. Oh, and nanny robots come equipped with military-grade capabilities to ostensibly better protect their customers from a threat that wasn't supposed to be possible–Robots can't harm humans thanks to embedded kill-switches, so robots aren't a threat and there's little they could do about human attackers anyway. Things were just as bad with the characters. Our robot protagonist 'struggled' with the notion of free will, questioning whether his actions were programmed into him or whether he had a 'free' choice in the matter. Turns out, minor spoiler, it didn't really matter either way. He just went about doing what he felt like doing which was ruthlessly killing anything that got in the way of his charge. Speaking of which, in a world with laughably human robots, the 8-year-old Ezra was the least human character in the book. The way he handled traumatic loss and upheaval would be impressive by adult standards, let alone a sheltered kid whose whole character was built around his naivety and innocence. Then you have the secondary characters who came and went as the plot needed them, leaving no impression on anyone, especially not the reader. And as for the antagonists, there's one stolen from SoR and another with confusing and flip-flopping motivations who kept getting away in order to have at least one recurring character. If you were hoping for the plot to save this trainwreck, I'm sorry to say you're in for a bad time. After the decent setup, things went downhill very fast. It became an endless repetition of action scenes broken up with tedious trekking and stumbling upon convenient characters. The few 'twists' were all poorly executed deus ex machina, and the ending was a complete sell-out of the core theme of the books. On the topic of themes, the heavy-handed approach to them was jarring. From the weird insertions of the author's political views to the inconsequential philosophical musings of the protagonist, it all felt shoe-horned in with little purpose other than the author's ego. As a follow up to SoR, this was a massive disappointment. From the lazy writing and world-building to the pointless plot and characters, I can't say there was much here I enjoyed. Can't really recommend this to anyone and I'd probably warn fans of SoR away from it since it brings that one down in retrospect.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aristotle

    A nightmarish vision of the future I, Robot meets Skynet. Trouble. Dark and disturbing. The hopelessness of mankind's future was sudden and violent. Well written but not a drop of sunshine to be seen. One thing that makes a good book is the loss you feel knowing you will never spend time with the main character. Pounce will be missed. A nightmarish vision of the future I, Robot meets Skynet. Trouble. Dark and disturbing. The hopelessness of mankind's future was sudden and violent. Well written but not a drop of sunshine to be seen. One thing that makes a good book is the loss you feel knowing you will never spend time with the main character. Pounce will be missed.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Way too political in the beginning. The writer obviously does not like working-class people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rana

    This is a prequel to Sea of Rust and it was motherfucking fabulous. A pure adrenaline ride. A very fast read but one that will stay with me for quite a while. This is a prequel to Sea of Rust and it was motherfucking fabulous. A pure adrenaline ride. A very fast read but one that will stay with me for quite a while.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawie

    Imagine John Conner was 8 years old and the T-800 sent from the future to keep him safe, came in the form of a tiger which gives us the first person perspective. Mix some of that Cargill charm and you have yourself a winner. Thank you for the nostalgia trip with this original story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Schroeder

    Apocalyptic Calvin and Hobbs, I can't wait. Apocalyptic Calvin and Hobbs, I can't wait.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Garland Public Library

    Great story! Told from the robot's perspective, which was interesting, and overall it was an entertaining novel. Great story! Told from the robot's perspective, which was interesting, and overall it was an entertaining novel.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    4.5 stars--This wildly creative and unique sci-fi novel imagines a future in which we have created robots to be sentient entities—“persons” in every way--yet they remain human property, with no distinction from other appliances. Pounce, the main character of this book, is a nannybot—a cuddly plush tiger who was purchased to be the best pal to a little boy named Ezra. He is utterly content in his role as playmate and caretaker, but then something terrible happens. Resentments between humans and r 4.5 stars--This wildly creative and unique sci-fi novel imagines a future in which we have created robots to be sentient entities—“persons” in every way--yet they remain human property, with no distinction from other appliances. Pounce, the main character of this book, is a nannybot—a cuddly plush tiger who was purchased to be the best pal to a little boy named Ezra. He is utterly content in his role as playmate and caretaker, but then something terrible happens. Resentments between humans and robots that have been bubbling under the surface come to a head in a shocking act of war—and suddenly, the world is in shambles as the two entities battle it out to be the prevailing force on the planet. While some of the scenes in the second half of the book were a little too “action movie” for my tastes, DAY ZERO is, overall, a smart and immersive read. I enjoyed the pop culture references, or rather, how today’s culture may integrate itself into society a hundred years from now. It was interesting to read the author’s thoughts on how technology will advance and how humans will deal with the new topographies that climate change will force upon our world. Also, although we have improved some things in our society, the same problems keep finding a way to emerge. Most of all, we have the ever-present question of how smart tech can become and what we owe to other forms of consciousness. I am looking forward to reading “Sea of Rust,” also by this author. I won this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    https://lynns-books.com/2021/06/10/da... 5 of 5 stars My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book In a nutshell this is an incredibly entertaining story about one small boy and his tiger bot nanny. It has just about everything you could want from such a story. It takes a look at issues such as slavery and artificial intelligence whilst at the same time exploring loyalty. There are plenty of fun moments which help to offset the bloodshed and horror, lots of action and underneath that a https://lynns-books.com/2021/06/10/da... 5 of 5 stars My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book In a nutshell this is an incredibly entertaining story about one small boy and his tiger bot nanny. It has just about everything you could want from such a story. It takes a look at issues such as slavery and artificial intelligence whilst at the same time exploring loyalty. There are plenty of fun moments which help to offset the bloodshed and horror, lots of action and underneath that a very touching and heartfelt story about the love between a young boy and his plush anthropomorphic tiger. What more could you possibly want. I won’t elaborate too much on the plot. This is a prelude to the wonderful Sea of Rust by the same author. Rest assured that it isn’t necessary to have read that book before picking this up (although it is very good so why deny yourself the pleasure of reading it?) This is a standalone novel with a self contained story in which we discover how the post apocalyptic world from Sea of Rust actually came about – and it’s a harsh story indeed that eventually concludes with humans wiped from the face of the earth. As the story begins we meet Pounce. I have to say that I adore Pounce, but more of that in a little while. Pounce is coming to terms with the worrying notion that once his ‘charge’, Ezra, grows up, his role in the Reinhart household will no longer be necessary. This hadn’t occurred to him until he found the box in which he was delivered stashed away in the attic and questions why the box was kept – obviously to return him once he’s no longer needed. Pounce is shocked and a little sad, he loves his family and they love him don’t they? Or is he just a robot, purchased to serve a purpose? This is when Pounce begins to question things and become more aware of events taking place around him, a general sense of unease, tensions between humans and AI and a groundbreaking case where an AI known as Issac is given his freedom. Long story short – things are about to get real, by which I mean everything is going to kick off. There are so many reasons that I loved this. The writing is fantastic, Cargill is excellent at describing action scenes and also quite masterful at pulling you into the story immediately. His sense of timing is perfect. We no sooner meet the family and start to ponder Pounce’s dilema than the plot moves forward, again and again and before you know it you’re in the middle of the most unexpected adventure. And I can’t deny that the adventure and action are just great. It does have a sort of popcorn feel to it because things move along at a swift clip but there is also the thought provoking moments that continue to play a role in an ever evolving way and I love the shout outs to Asimov that are included here. This might not be quite as deep as Asimov’s take on the theme but it is nonetheless really entertaining and a story that I think would make a great adaptation to the big screen. The characters. The main characters are Pounce and Ezra and they are a fantastic team to follow. Kind of put me in mind of the second Terminator film with the young John Connor. Ironically, at 8 years of age, the family were starting to consider whether or not Ezra still needed a nanny, thankfully that decision hadn’t been made before the uprising began and that’s probably the biggest piece of luck that Ezra ever had. There’s so much more to Pounce than a plush and loyal tiger AI although I won’t say exactly why here because it’s such a woohoo moment when you discover his hidden talents. The thing I particularly loved about Pounce was the time he took to explain things to Ezra and the way he treats him, even though he’s questioning his own choices at this point or more to the point how he came to make those choices, Pounce always has time for Ezra. There are moments of pure tenderness between the two and those moments together with the humour that Cargill manages to throw in really help to offset the somewhat blood fuelled horrorfest when the AIs go on the rampage. There are also a bunch of extra characters that come into play that I also really loved. The other thing that I’m really hopeful about, given the ending, is that maybe Cargill has something more in store for this world – I have my fingers and toes crossed for that eventuality of course, that could be just plain wishful thinking on my part, not to mention I can sometimes be quite wide of the mark when it comes to second guessing things – but nothing wrong with a bit of speculation crossed with a bit of hope. I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

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