2 out of 4 stars
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Code Name: Zeus by Gary Anderson is a contemporary piece of fiction and is a standalone novel. The book was written as a debut piece and the author undertook this task in his 70s.
“The politics of the world might someday become bad enough that civilization implodes upon itself. What can we do to secure its future?” This was the premise behind immigrants Robert Barzinsky and Jack Barnett Snr’s epic creation of an area where the world might once again rebuild itself. The story tells of their relocation to America and what brought them there, the bond and partnerships they created, and the long term strategies they put into place to make their dream a reality. Fuelled by their deep distrust of economic changes and political leanings, they begin to gather the forward thinkers of the time to create a haven which relies entirely on itself for sustenance; whether food, medical or legal. During the span of 100 years or so, family members come and go and alliances are created and dissolved. If and when the world ends, will they be ready?
I must commend the author on the courage it takes to put a novel out there, especially when trying something new later in life. He has taken an interesting idea and delved into elements of the world around us that could be taking place that we are not privy to. The book is a good reminder of how perseverance and hard work can change the lives of people, and that if you want something badly enough, that it’s important to put your all into it.
I took the review on the basis that it was catergorised as sci-fi/fantasy but I don’t believe that this is correct. There are no supernatural elements and the tech aspect covers what was available at the time and upgrades on it, not speculative fiction with imaginative concepts. Eventually I thought the sci-fi might come into it once they moved into the bunker, but the book is basically the lead up to it. The amazon blurb made it sound full of action and almost in a spy genre, but sadly it was not to be. I was further not sold on the story itself, as it is very drawn out with a lot of the same info repeated in different parts of the book. Certain parts seemed unnecessary, like three and a half pages dedicated to Jack moving a camp around, the beans he ate and the coffee he drank. Timelines are an issue for me, and on page one it is mentioned twice that Chip is reminiscing about his 30 years with Jack. This takes places in 2007 but they only met in 1987, making it 20 years. The editing of the book is pretty good overall but some problems crept up over and over again. There were missing prepositions or articles everywhere, like in this sentence: “The cool weather usually ended in early June and they expected rest the summer to be very hot.” Dangling modifiers were abundant in examples like this one: “Driving another six or seven miles, the terrain became much less difficult.” Who was doing the driving? The writing itself was very choppy and sentences didn’t flow into each other, hyphens were inserted where not necessary and commas were missing in sentences which tended to change the meanings of the sentences. The story jumps around in time, and sometimes you are not sure if the author is talking in the present or in the future. There are a lot of info dumps where people are discussing an aspect of the bunker and suddenly the author goes off on a tangent about something completely unrelated. A number of times the reader is left to assume something, for example when Chip and Sue become a couple and in the next sentence it says that he didn’t join her in obtaining a degree but rather supports his wife. The jump from couple to married in one sentence is never explained. As to the characters and the story itself, I never really felt invested in any of it. The author tells the reader how to feel about the characters, but never actually allows you to be involved in any of their emotions. Some of the things that didn’t sit well with me were things like where they decide to put all medical knowledge into a library, but since this plan takes place over so many years and medicine changes so rapidly this seemed unrealistic. Also there would only be between 200-300 people in the bunker, yet the leaders sit for days strategising about possible presidential elections, and there is even a Fibonacci sequence included in the book to explain the election process. This felt like a technically oriented person wrote a book but was unable to relate characters to the reader.
I was hoping for a story with a futuristic look at what was planned if civilisation collapsed and how the world would be rebuilt, but was given a drawn out account of people creating a haven because they disagreed with politics. I took one star away for the grammatical mistakes and one star for the story itself. It was a good effort but just didn’t come alive for me. I thus rate Code Name: Zeus 2 out of 4 stars and would probably recommend it to someone who is interested in logistics or planning, or wanted to try something different to read.
Code Name: Zeus
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