Book Review: Zero Day

Zero Day has been an interesting read. First of all, this is of yet another computer guy turned author (Patricia Cornwell and Jim Butcher being two more) — the guy works for Microsoft, of all companies! And honestly, it shows. While the book is not written bad at all, it paints an even worse world than reality is, by having everything based off Windows, including very critical systems…

So how do you categorize this book? I guess you have to call it cyberthriller, although it has very little cyber in it; it takes place in present time, in a not-so-improbable situation if, as I said above, Windows is the only possible operating system out there. You can easily guess from the title and blurb that this relates to a computer virus infection that goes to have damage, which is something that other books try to warn us about. As you’re reading my blog, I expect you to know better than to think that Windows is the only operating system out there and that it’s suitable, for example for avionics.

So while the story is interesting, it has quite a few pitfalls. The first thing I’d complain about is that the author abuses textspeak! I can sort-of understand (but not really accept happily) the stereotypical textspeak among “crackers” and wannabes, but even among high-level IT professionals? Really?! And the same professional who has to be told what l33t5p34k is?!? Honestly it’s painful to have to read through a page fitted with textspeak, and it’s almost as much painful to find that the author still thinks that people speak over ICQ … that’s so ‘98 (and for those who don’t think 1998 isn’t far away enough, it’s 14 years ago.. where were you at the time?).

But, spoiler alert!

Spoiler follows.

Okay you’ve been warned.

The worst problem with the book, though, is the bad stereotypes embedded into its story. The girls in the IT world who’re not up to the job and need to call the main hero for help … one of which is actually said to sleep with her boss to move up with her career (while I can think of a few people who have been doing that, which make it realistic enough, do you really want to spend half a book with such a character, especially given the kind of social turmoil the IT world is in, in the past few years?)… The Russians who can’t stay on the right side of the law for more than a couple of pages… The evil muslim extremists who seek nothing but the destruction of the West, …

Before somebody takes offense about my words, I’ll be quick to point out that I’m an atheist and I don’t really care whether you believe in something or not, and even less I care about what you believe. So please.

Will I read the next book – Trojan Horse – almost certainly yes. I’ve learnt never to judge a whole series from the first book, especially for new authors. But honestly the book I’ll wait for will come out in November, not September, and it’s the new Dresden Files book, Cold Days… which happen to be out the day before my birthday — I’ll go the extra step and pay the full price for the Kindle edition, I don’t want to wait!