Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti // Book Reviews

Hey hey!

I have another review for you today on book #2 of the Zeroes series. This is a spoiler free review for THIS novel but it might spoil the overall outcomes from the FIRST book of the series (Zeroes). This is the first review I’ve done on this blog for a book did not finish (DNF) which was surprisingly longer than I expected. I’m not here to bash the book. I was just bored and disappointed in my reading experience. If you don’t mind negative reviews, proceed!

28954123Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti

Series: Zeroes (#2)
Genre: Science fiction
Publication: September 27th 2016 by Simon Pulse
Pages: 448
Source: Borrowed

DNF @ 60%

They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes.

These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground.

But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister.

Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him.

Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army?


I found this sequel to be so boring. I didn’t find the plot interesting and I really tried to get through. It’s a pretty big book and I made it just over the halfway mark so I think I gave it a fair go. I skimmed the rest of the book but I’m still confused about the ending. I’m not saying that I hated the book, I was just in complete boredom reading it. The first book had so great ideas and I saw the potential, but the execution wasn’t quite there. I wasn’t especially impressed with the first book, but I was intrigued enough to continue to see how it would go. I found both books to be disappointing. The entertainment value I found in the first book isn’t there for me anymore. I think it’s one of those cases of it’s me not you so go forth and give it a chance if you’re into unlikely superheroes and unique powers – I admit the concept of the series is interesting. Usually, I find it difficult to not finish novels, but I’ve heard that the ending is very open ended and super frustrating. I don’t think I regret not finishing it.


The story starts off with the squad that has opened nightclub to experiment with their powers. I did not understand the purpose of these experiments and what they were hoping to achieve. It started off interesting enough but I wanted more of an explanation as to why and what they’re doing. It took too long for the plot to get moving. Too much planning and discussion, and hardly any action. We get to a certain point in the novel where suddenly, too much is happening and I didn’t feel there was a focus in the story. I could not deal with all the convolution.

Sherlock sherlock benedict cumberbatch bored bbc GIF


The sequel picks up 6 months after the events of the first novel. I don’t understand the point of the nightclub AKA “the dish”. I didn’t like the sound of it and its invention for the sake of experimentation.


I found the characters to be bland or irritating, which wasn’t as prominent in the first book. I liked the intersectional diversity. I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s the greatest thing in this book. However, in my eyes, it didn’t save the book from epically failing.

I still think that the 6 point of views are too much, especially since the voices are quite similar. I didn’t care for the characters and I wasn’t invested in their stories. So, let’s talk about them:

Ethan AKA Scam: this guy downright annoys me. His power is having this “voice” that knows exactly what to say which has zero filter. Whatever comes out of his mouth using this power is to benefit his case at the time. Sure, it’s unique but it makes him creepy even when he’s not using this power. In contrast, his usual self is pathetic and very self-loathing. I do feel a bit sorry for him sometimes (he gets his fair share of rejection and the team isn’t really a fan of his power). But he still got on my nerves.

Nate AKA Bellwether: I’m going to be perfectly upfront and say that I don’t like him. He’s probably my least favourite character in this book. It’s ironic because his superpower is the ability to unite a group so he’s supposed to be persuasive and charismatic but I’m afraid I am not a fan of his character. What annoys me even more is everyone in the group looks up to him like he’s this perfect “glorious leader”. I kid you not when I tell you that he’s legitimately referred to as the glorious leader. I find him egotistic and controlling and me don’t like. I can’t remember, but I am almost 100% sure that he is a person of colour. I don’t want to say where from because I’m kind of iffy on the details.

Kelsie AKA Mob: she was the newest member of the group and the effect of her power seems kind of like Nate’s. She can control crowds and make them feel a certain way. She doesn’t get explored much in this novel.

Thibault AKA Anonymous: I really felt for him because his superpower is that he’s forgotten almost immediately after he meets anyone. Even his family can’t remember him. How tragic is that?

Chizara AKA Crash: I think I liked her the best out of the group. Also, she’s black. I enjoyed her bringing a moral dimension and being the only one questioning the ethics of how they were using their powers. Her power is pretty snazzy – she can crash technology amongst doing other stuff with technology that is explored in this novel.

Riley AKA Flicker: I don’t think we got to know her much in the previous book neither does she get enough time in this one (from what I read). She’s blind but she has a power that allows her to look out for the eyes of other people.

I didn’t understand the need for all these codenames. Also, besides these codenames, they have nicknames and then nicknames for the codenames and this is so unnecessary. Again, making it more complicated than it needs to be. I wanted more answers about the origin of their powers and more dimension to their powers but I felt they stayed the same.

I know this was supposed to be squad goals but the group was so dysfunctional and disconnected so it was more like a squad flop. I wanted to know more about the relationships between the zeroes and I don’t think it was done well.

Random side character. I think. Sonia Sonic annoyed me so much and I don’t understand why Ethan had to bring into it.

We get so newbies in town and they’re zeroes as well. Although they’re focusing less on the “heroes” part and more on the “wrecking havoc for fun” agenda. They seem like antagonists but interpret as you will. They also get codenames which they didn’t even make up themselves. Again, the codenames are useless.

There’s a new villain in town, and it’s called swarm. And like many other things in this novel, I was uber-confused. I could picture it at all. Was it a person? An organisation? An alien? I was so stumped I couldn’t even figure out the species, let alone their powers. Their presence didn’t feel as threatening as the last novel.

There are some romances that develop in this novel. We have one that emerged at the end of the first novel between Thibault and Riley. Like a lot of the characters in this book, I felt indifferent about it. A female/female relationship develops in this book and although YAY because it was a lovely surprise, it wasn’t so much as developed and bam, now it exists AKA instalove. I thought the foreshadowing was done well but unfortunately, I didn’t get as far into the book to see how the rest of the relationship progressed.

Another thing I was very confused by was the total lack of involvement of grownups. I’m sure these kids were out at abnormal times of the day and the parental figures aren’t quite there. Also, we get another case of “we are teens and we can fix all the problems by ourselves – don’t tell adults anything or ask for help even though we’re not doing great at handling this.” Yeah, that.


3 authors wrote this book so you would have thought the voices would have been more distinctive. I’m assuming each author got 2 characters’ point of view to write. I’m sorry but I found the writing… bland. The darker tone caught me off guard and I liked it, but it wasn’t enough to fully engage me. And there’s plenty of angst to go around. And a lot of eye rolling from me.

The constant switching between the point of views slowed the pace down. Rather than tension filled, I felt super frustrated most of the time because there was hardly any development.

I never looked forward to continuing reading this book and always procrastinated. So unfortunately, I have no interest in continuing this series.

DNF @ 60%

Goodreads   Purchase *

Emily x


What did you think of the book? Was it a disappointing sequel or better than you thought? Were you a fan of the characters? If you had an atypical superpower, what would you want? Comment below!

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5 thoughts on “Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti // Book Reviews

  1. I totally loved this book, but you did have some pretty good points. I don’t really understand Nate at all. He’s kind of what I call a cardboard character (a character so boring and generic that they remind me of cardboard). Also, now that you mention it, where is everyone’s parents?


    • I really glad you enjoyed this book Bella! I definitely loved the idea of teenagers with superpowers and I found the powers to be super unique. Again I think it’s a case of it’s me not you. I’ve noticed that absent parents and incompetent adults seem to be pretty common across many YA novels but I still find it strange 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have no idea how nice it is to see someone else review a book they DNF-ed. Made my day :D
    I actually found this book better than the first and I enjoyed it, though you do make some good points. The writing could have been better for three people at it, and it’s a bit slow to get going. But I can’t help but love the characters and the trouble they get into.
    Great review!


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