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A lightning fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment, Version Zero is a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max, a data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking quest A lightning fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment, Version Zero is a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max, a data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking questions about what his company is doing with the data they collect, he finds himself fired…and then blackballed across all of Silicon Valley. With time on his hands and inside knowledge about the biggest tech companies, Max and his longtime friend—and sometime crush—Akiko, decide to get even by…essentially, rebooting the internet. After all, in order to fix things, sometimes you have to break them. But when Max and Akiko join forces with a reclusive tech baron, they learn that breaking things can have unintended—and disastrous—consequences. And those consequences will ripple across the world, effecting every level of society in ways no one could have imagined.


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A lightning fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment, Version Zero is a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max, a data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking quest A lightning fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment, Version Zero is a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max, a data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking questions about what his company is doing with the data they collect, he finds himself fired…and then blackballed across all of Silicon Valley. With time on his hands and inside knowledge about the biggest tech companies, Max and his longtime friend—and sometime crush—Akiko, decide to get even by…essentially, rebooting the internet. After all, in order to fix things, sometimes you have to break them. But when Max and Akiko join forces with a reclusive tech baron, they learn that breaking things can have unintended—and disastrous—consequences. And those consequences will ripple across the world, effecting every level of society in ways no one could have imagined.

30 review for Version Zero

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sylvain Neuvel

    Imagine a world in which the entire Internet is controlled by a handful of shady CEO’s. Oh. Right. Well, imagine someone doing something about it. Imagine a high-speed, edge of your seat adventure with stakes higher than you can measure. Imagine it told in David Yoon’s unique and singularly engaging prose. That’s VERSION ZERO, an addictive, brain-hacking exploration of the tech-run world we live in, and a rollercoaster so fast it will blow your hair off.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    If you don't read this book, I think you're a total zero. Just kidding but also YOU REALLY SHOULD READ THIS. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Alright, now that all my screaming is out of the way and I'm calm, gigantic thank you to the publisher for reaching out to me and providing me with an advanced copy of this highly anticipated book of mine. So I've now read every single book he AND his wife have put out and I have opinions. It would appear that, no matter what, I'm just going to auto-read anything the If you don't read this book, I think you're a total zero. Just kidding but also YOU REALLY SHOULD READ THIS. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Alright, now that all my screaming is out of the way and I'm calm, gigantic thank you to the publisher for reaching out to me and providing me with an advanced copy of this highly anticipated book of mine. So I've now read every single book he AND his wife have put out and I have opinions. It would appear that, no matter what, I'm just going to auto-read anything they scribble onto paper but you won't find me complaining. I LOVED Frankly in Love. That book is alwaysss going to be one of my favorites and something that I'm going to recommend to anyone with a sense of humor. Super Fake Love Song was a book that I was way too excited for and it let me down big ass time. He went from a 5 star book to a 2 star book and I think it was safe to say that I had the worry creases between my brows when it came to how THIS adult debut of his would turn out. But I read it, and woo mama!, lemme tell you, A++++++! Dare I friggin' say it, his adult writing is even BETTER than his YA writing and I think he should stick to the more mature audience because here he doesn't have to filter or tone down his amazing sense of humor. The jokes hit harder when all the pretty swear words don't have to be changed to like motherhugging. No, but for realsies, he and I seem to share identical senses of humor and the quirkiness is what I live for. I can definitely see a few jokes here that are going to have the more politically correct readers crying their Karen-esque eyes out, but I think the use of the things they gonna be screaming about make perfect sense given who the characters are. Speaking of the characters, it starts out and you think you're going to be reading about some major BROS. And you kinda are. But he nailed 20-somethings right on the head. And I should know cuz I am a 20-something. Their dialogue especially was quintessential bruh if you have any idea what I'm talking about. After reading a small slew of books where the people talked like overexcited robots, it felt so good, it felt so nice, to read a book starring real live humans. Like breathing air without all the farts in it. *inhales sharply* Alright, so I covered the sense of humor being absolutely perfect for those possessing a sense of humor. Moving on to the plot. I found myself really sucked into the story. There was rarely a moment where I found myself checking out (even though I always have way too much on my mind and it's sometimes hard to hold my attention). The book was a welcome escape from my loudmouth mind. THAT FREAKING PLOT TWIST AT THE END THOUGHHHHHH! AAAAAHHHHHHH!! Jeez, and here I thought I was done screaming. 'Parently not. *inhales sharply pt 2* It went from a funny contemporary. To a smart piece o' you-really-got-me-thinking-here-bub. To an intense, holding-mah-breath action movie. Everything I never knew I wanted in a book was here. Especially all the wiener jokes. I actually got spooked at one point the way that all those old classic dystopians are supposed to make ya feel. I got chills thinking about how Yoon presented moral questions about the use of the internet that I hadn't even considered before. He put a fear in me but it felt so good. This is actually why I'm saying YOU SHOULD ALL READ THIS BOOK. Because it really gets you thinking and can probably help us all check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. That might make for a boring review but I'm sure if you keep scrolling you'll find other people complaining about something or other. But not me. I loved it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    If THE CIRCLE was the internet novel that asked "What have we done?" then VERSION ZERO is the internet novel that asks, "How do we stop it?" The thing I enjoyed the most about this novel was that it kept on surprising me, especially when I thought I had it pinned down. This is a particular pleasure of mine and I don't encounter it often. (See also: THE HIKE by Drew Magary.) At first we start with a Silicon Valley satire, and then it seems like this is turning into a real hero's journey, there's a If THE CIRCLE was the internet novel that asked "What have we done?" then VERSION ZERO is the internet novel that asks, "How do we stop it?" The thing I enjoyed the most about this novel was that it kept on surprising me, especially when I thought I had it pinned down. This is a particular pleasure of mine and I don't encounter it often. (See also: THE HIKE by Drew Magary.) At first we start with a Silicon Valley satire, and then it seems like this is turning into a real hero's journey, there's also elements of a heist story, and the scrappy team of misfits. Knowing that it's going to pivot is part of the fun. (The book even tells you when it's doing it with its version-chapter structure.) The Big Bad is Big Tech but also the Bezos's and Zuckerberg's of the world (fictionalized here, of course) and also trolls and also maybe the entire internet. Our protagonist, Max, starts out as a bit of an odd man out, son of undocumented Savadorean immigrants, who has risen through a Facebook-like company, Wren, through a combination of luck and skill to a relatively high position in Product. But when he's brought into a new secret project, Max starts to question the ethics of it, and then the bigger questions of what Wren is for. It's totally believable the way Max pivots from grateful and proud to be a part of Wren to hating everything it stands for, because all of us have the same ethical questions to deal with in nearly every decision we make. When he decides to do something about it, that's when things get interesting. Max is not a perfect hero, and he's not always exactly sure what it is that he wants to achieve, and that's exactly why this is such a great ride. This book gets the world we live in, it gets the internet and the apps, and while sometimes it isn't the most subtle about it, the accuracy helps to make up for its occasional bluntness. I particularly loved the way this book handled the now-familiar trope of the Smart Guy who is obsessed with/in love with the Smart Girl mashed up with the trope of the Guy Who's In Love With His Best Friend mashed up with the other trope of Guy Who's In Love With His Best Friend's Girlfriend. All of these are things I've run into enough times to inwardly groan. (See also: the biggest weakness of a book I otherwise love, ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood.) At times I worried because otherwise the book was really interesting and I was worried this would sabotage it. Happily it did not, even when it seems like it's about to. I expect this kind of emotional intelligence from Yoon, whose YA novel FRANKLY IN LOVE is also really emotionally intelligent and about a young guy who doesn't always make smart decisions about girls. Max is a little older and a little wiser, but not always. It doesn't quite stick the landing 100% in this particular respect, but it was still a lot better than I expected going in. It doesn't really stick the landing 100% in any respect, but when a book takes big swings the way this one does, I am willing to tolerate a not quite perfect finish. And I suspect others will disagree and really love the ending, I just don't quite agree with the central premise it lands on so I'm not sure I was ever going to be totally behind it, but we agree to disagree and we're still friends. I devoured this in a day, and it was such a breath of fresh air to read a thriller that doesn't feel like any other thriller out there right now. It would make a great movie, too. (FYI it does get violent, and it includes depictions of slurs and other troll behavior.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    These characters are so self righteous and boring. I couldn’t stand spending any more time with them so I skimmed the last half of the book. The blurb describes the book as “lightning fast and scorchingly observant”. No, it isn’t. It is obvious, stereotyped and lacks nuance. It definitely feels YA. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    What began as a powerful, reality-checking story, soon lost momentum and I fell out of love with this plot as a result. Don’t get me wrong, Yoon’s narrative is definitely thought-provoking and encouraged me to question my use of the internet and social media. However, the delivery was not as punchy as I was hoping for and I thought it only really picked up in the final chapters. Yoon explores how modern society is enslaved by the internet. In this narrative, there are criticisms about how addicti What began as a powerful, reality-checking story, soon lost momentum and I fell out of love with this plot as a result. Don’t get me wrong, Yoon’s narrative is definitely thought-provoking and encouraged me to question my use of the internet and social media. However, the delivery was not as punchy as I was hoping for and I thought it only really picked up in the final chapters. Yoon explores how modern society is enslaved by the internet. In this narrative, there are criticisms about how addiction to social media and sharing information about ourselves. This, in turn, is then used by the big corporations to harvest data and use it to feed the addiction online. It’s a vicious cycle and it definitely had me questioning my attitude and behaviours towards what I share online. With Max and his friends, they decide that enough is enough. Desiring to crash the big corporations and stop this corruptive data-harvesting, Max and his friends meet with Pilot – a tech, millionaire mogul whose life remains a mystery after removing himself completely from the public eye. This novel therefore follows how Max leads this destruction of how much the internet companies learn about their users. There are several “stunts” that are sent into the ether in an attempt to persuade users to delete several social media accounts. It works only temporarily before accounts are reactivated, believing that ‘Version Zero’ and their cyber attack is meaningless. Unsurprisingly, Max and his friends feel they need to do something bigger and better to ensure everyone takes notice. You don’t need to be totally tech savvy to follow the premise of this book. I liked reading some of the social media references and the debate of how society existed before the internet, social media, smart phones etc. Indeed, I thought the closing chapter was particularly powerful as Yoon provides a glimpse into a sort of utopian society. There were exciting, unpredictable moments to this book. On the other hand, there were also times when I thought the dialogue slowed the pace and made it a rather dull read. Furthermore, I was not sure why there were racial comments also being made in this book. For me, I think it made this a more politicised novel which is not just about how much we should protect our online privacy, but also the skin colour of people in positions of power. Personally, I think the racial references muddied the general message of the novel and I am unsure of its relevance to Yoon’s narrative. An interesting read, it is certainly one to consider because of how provocative the narrative becomes. There’s not as much action as I wanted throughout the narrative but I really enjoyed the suggestions that come through the story. With psychological implications of using social media to consider, I think this added extra depth to the plot. However, overall, there was not enough excitement to Max’s project, despite the desire to change the world for the better. With thanks to HQ Digital and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tory

    If "Black Mirror" were funnier, you'd have "Version Zero"! This book, set in the very (VERY) near future, poses some serious questions about ethics and modern morality, but it's written with a great sense of humor and fast-paced action, is incredibly (sometimes horribly) relatable, and leaves the reader guessing. The fun action is perfectly balanced against the dark side of technology, and David Yoon's voice is witty, fresh, and authentic. I'd highly recommend this for anyone who dug "Ready Play If "Black Mirror" were funnier, you'd have "Version Zero"! This book, set in the very (VERY) near future, poses some serious questions about ethics and modern morality, but it's written with a great sense of humor and fast-paced action, is incredibly (sometimes horribly) relatable, and leaves the reader guessing. The fun action is perfectly balanced against the dark side of technology, and David Yoon's voice is witty, fresh, and authentic. I'd highly recommend this for anyone who dug "Ready Player One" or other techno-futuristic thrillers!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Lovitt

    David Yoon's Version Zero Fails to Impress (READ FULL REVIEW: https://yourmoneygeek.com/review-vers...) Have you ever read a book that so desperately wanted to be the next edgy thriller that everyone’s raving about, but it ended up feeling like that book you picked up at the airport on a layover because you forgot your phone charger and you needed something to do on the flight, but listening to screaming babies was better than reading it? Unfortunately, Version Zero is that book, and because I do David Yoon's Version Zero Fails to Impress (READ FULL REVIEW: https://yourmoneygeek.com/review-vers...) Have you ever read a book that so desperately wanted to be the next edgy thriller that everyone’s raving about, but it ended up feeling like that book you picked up at the airport on a layover because you forgot your phone charger and you needed something to do on the flight, but listening to screaming babies was better than reading it? Unfortunately, Version Zero is that book, and because I don’t believe in DNRs (did not read) I read through the whole depressingly unimpressive book.  Without a doubt, Version Zero will find an audience that will love every second of the journey, but I am certain that I am not that audience. Yoon is highly regarded in the Young Adult sphere, but this book did not match the acclaim of his previous titles. Which is disappointing because I was looking forward to diving into the “lightning fast and scorchingly observant” novel I was promised.  Most of the social media conscious and “observant” aspects of the novel are lost in the awkward syntax, insufferable characters, and the vague stereotypes that left me wondering how I was supposed to feel. Some people may enjoy the abruptness of the storytelling, but I found it tedious at best and unbearable at its worst. I, of course, have my own preferences when it comes to story structure and narrative styling — both of which were left untouched by Version Zero.  Some aspects of Version Zero did jive with me. I enjoyed the formatting of internet conversations and found myself trying to click the links to quizzes that don’t actually exist. These passages of the novel felt immersive and compelling but were easily overshadowed by the aspects that left me very tempted to break my self-imposed DNR vow.  I am curious to see what the widespread reaction is to the novel upon its release in May, as there were areas of the book that made me extremely uncomfortable to read and even more uncomfortable to address in this review. The tech world is filled with racism and sexism and perhaps, part of the critique, is how normalized stereotypes are found in and accepted by society. But for me, the book failed to convey its egregious stereotypes as critiques.  Version Zero is an amalgamation of The Circle, Black Mirror, and equal parts rage against the machine, without any of the memorable parts. It leans heavily into the jaded Silicon Valley techie story, with hints of large social commentary about social media’s control on our lives, but it fails to move on the most interesting aspects of the story. It’s set in a world that’s almost our own, but it’s littered with the worst parts of it.  I wanted to like David Yoon’s Version Zero, and I hope it finds the audience it deserves. 

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chandra

    2.5/5 stars. This book was a mixed bag for me. Sometimes it was way too on the nose, at other times it was clever. Sometimes it was really exciting, but a bit later it would become super predictable. I can understand why other people might dig the book, it just didn’t end up being my jam. Im also definitely left with some disappointment as I like the authors first book so much (granted it was a completely different genre).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Version Zero is a lightning-fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment and a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling Young Adult author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max Portillo, a Salvadoran-American programmer and data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking questions about what his company is doing with the data they collect, Version Zero is a lightning-fast and scorchingly observant novel of the moment and a thrilling, humorous adult debut from the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling Young Adult author David Yoon. Reboot the present. Save the future. Max Portillo, a Salvadoran-American programmer and data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking questions about what his company is doing with the data they collect, he finds himself fired…and then blackballed across all of Silicon Valley. With time on his hands and inside knowledge about the biggest tech companies, Max and his longtime friend—and sometimes crush—Akiko, decide to get even by…essentially, rebooting the internet. After all, in order to fix things, sometimes you have to break them. But when Max and Akiko join forces with a reclusive tech baron, they learn that breaking things can have unintended—and disastrous—consequences. And those consequences will ripple across the world, affecting every level of society in ways no one could have imagined no matter how well intentioned the reasoning behind the action. This is a compulsively readable near-future thriller and plays superbly on the fears and implications of social media and the dark side of the internet. Moving at quickfire pace, it features the extremely popular bad guys versus good guys trope with them racing against time and each other in a high-stakes, adrenaline-pumping, action-packed thrill ride, and luckily it's executed adeptly enough that there's never a dull moment, plenty of unpredictable surprises and intense twisty-turns to keep you feverishly turning the pages. This is an up to the minute thriller exploring the social issues of our time and the satirical humour when addressing the high-tech business world and internet culture is a delight with some sharp observations throughout. The Faustian deal with the devil social media users are now known to have made with the companies whose main objective is to harvest data, the most sought-after and therefore profitable commodity in the world is a stark reminder of our vulnerability. A wild, high-octane ride with some thought-provoking social commentary and a palpably tense narrative. A thoroughly entertaining capitalistic technothriller. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    zaheerah

    *I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.* After questioning his employers, data technician Max finds himself fired and blackballed across the industry. Taking his insider knowledge, he gathers his friends in a daring plan to rip the curtains off the stage and make a stand. When they receive a mysterious invitation from a reclusive tech legend and access to his technology, their plans go further than they cou *I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.* After questioning his employers, data technician Max finds himself fired and blackballed across the industry. Taking his insider knowledge, he gathers his friends in a daring plan to rip the curtains off the stage and make a stand. When they receive a mysterious invitation from a reclusive tech legend and access to his technology, their plans go further than they could ever expect. But what is the cost and is it worth the risk for Max? I’ll apologise for this review in advance because like my reading experience, it was a jumbled up mess. There were so many moments that were quite thrilling, but in the end, Version Zero was not the one for me. Where do I begin? I guess the setting and plot. Version Zero takes place in reality similar to our, same significant events. There are five major media companies; names are familiar enough that it doesn’t take much to know who represents which major corporation. I have to admit I didn’t understand what was going on in the beginning. Yoon introduces a pecking order that doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the book, a tidbit to make it seem more science fiction when the story could have quickly done without such information. The story didn’t work for me. Despite what appears to be an eventful plot from the synopsis, the story was messy and underwhelming. Reboot the present. Save the future. Version Zero tried very hard to be a book about human life online, and how we’ve given up privacy in the age of digital information. I was invested in the anger Max felt about these top percenter who hide from accountability on their platform, the hate that is a constant cycle that moves from site to site, taking innocent lives. I feel like it wasn’t as nuanced as it could have been and fell victim to the simple “internet bad, the time before good,” debate. I could have forgiven this book for its flaws if the characters were remotely interesting. I wasn’t sure if the characters themselves knew what they were doing. Max, our protagonist, is our down and out, data technician who is fired when he mentions how uncomfortable he is with Wren (think Facebook) and their plans to gain more of their user’s information. There was a part of Max that I liked, the man who wanted to do good by his family, make something of himself. Every time he spoke, I could not feel any passion for the other stuff he says. The best way I could describe his voice is empty. He recruits his best friends, Akiko, and her boyfriend, Shane, in his plans to reboot the internet. It goes well, gaining the attention of Pilot Markham, a key figure in internet history, who disappeared off the face of the earth and wants to help in their fight. He’s joined alongside teen Brayden and together forms their group. I wish I knew what the hell was happening in this strange dynamic. Max harboured a crush on Akiko, partakes in emotional cheating and Shane is just there to be pure muscle and be weird. Pilot Markham was fascinating; to say the least, he’s responsible for most of the book’s thriller parts. I don’t understand how Max was willing to accept him into his plan, considering what you learn about his background. It just screamed red flags, and you would have thought Max would have picked up on it. Brayden, this poor child, why was he even there? Nothing meshed well, and everyone just contradicted each other in the worst way. Overall, I wish I could saying something more positive that you could take away from this review. I tried to give it a chance. Max and his friends might have changed the world, but this project failed to spark any real interest in me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    Read as manuscript - will defer review until finished copy is published.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aspen Brown

    Hot damn. I hope everyone reads this book. Five stars through and through.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melanie’s reads

    This book scarily reveals what we all secretly know about our use of social media and how those companies extract our data. The fun quizzes we play are seemingly not so innocent according to Version Zero. Housed in the Wren company is Helix, a place reserved for secret research and projects, aptly named after the helix nebula nicknamed “The eye of God”. For Wren their number one rule is don’t be evil so when Max starts asking the wrong questions about what they are using the collected data for he This book scarily reveals what we all secretly know about our use of social media and how those companies extract our data. The fun quizzes we play are seemingly not so innocent according to Version Zero. Housed in the Wren company is Helix, a place reserved for secret research and projects, aptly named after the helix nebula nicknamed “The eye of God”. For Wren their number one rule is don’t be evil so when Max starts asking the wrong questions about what they are using the collected data for he finds himself fired and takes it upon himself to put a stop to them before it’s too late. With his friends and assistance from a reclusive tech mogul this is very much a good guys vs bad guys read which is a trope I normally love. However I had some niggles here and a lot of them were down to the language used towards race descriptions. There was no need for them to be used and it detracted rather than highlighted important issues. This isn’t a new idea as it bears resemblance to The Circle by Dave Eggers, but this is a more inclusive and I personally feel a more realistic version of the dangers of internet addiction and social media use. You will certainly think about going on Facebook and at least changing your settings after reading it. The pace was changeable and did slow in places but it wasn’t too tech heavy so that this dinosaur could at least understand it. The characters were the best part of the book and I think this would really appeal to Black Mirror and Nerve fans.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Version Zero. I haven't read the author's YA books but I know he's popular. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** I don't usually read thrillers based in Silicon Valley because I know the techno babble will go right over my head (and it did), but I was intrigued about a story centered around how three misfits work together to take down an establishment based on greed, privilege and status. When Max, a talented programmer in a Facebook-like company, brings his ethical Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Version Zero. I haven't read the author's YA books but I know he's popular. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** I don't usually read thrillers based in Silicon Valley because I know the techno babble will go right over my head (and it did), but I was intrigued about a story centered around how three misfits work together to take down an establishment based on greed, privilege and status. When Max, a talented programmer in a Facebook-like company, brings his ethical concerns about a program his company is building to management, he is unceremoniously fired. As a result, his anger and resentment breeds into vengeance, and together with his even more talented BFF and unrequited love interest, and her boyfriend, they plan to bring down the Internet. When an exceedingly wealthy and reclusive billionaire (think Elon Musk but creepier) seeks to join their rebellion, Max is fan-girling out of his mind and eagerly accepts the new recruit. Eventually, the three friends will soon find out (this always happens in these situations) that their new partner has bigger plans in mind, and they're nothing short of explosive. I liked Max, and I easily related to his immigrant background, his very hard working parents and the dreams they had for their only son and child. I understood his anger at these Internet companies; their lack of accountability, the hate and vitriol their programs encouraged and perpetuated; the never-ending cycle users of these programs find themselves in. You're glued to your phone, you seek validation and purpose from a tiny screen but why? What did we do before the Internet? We talk, we love, we play, we interact. No one does that anymore. Max was sick of what the Internet had created; and he saw in himself the ability to create a utopian company, one that would offer goodness and do nothing evil in return. Did that make him naive and idealistic? Sure. But it doesn't make him a bad person. The writing is good, but the tone is odd, but in a good way. The world Max and his friends live in sound like our present, but not quite. Sort of a multiverse version of Earth in a similar, not quite different 2020. The slang is odd, some of the words sound made up, and if they're not, then I just dated myself and everyone knows I'm no techie. Some readers should be aware that there's unforeseen physical violence at the end, it's graphic, and not something I was prepared for. It didn't bother me but some readers might be sensitive. I thought the violence aligned with the personal views of Max's benefactor billionaire, and let's face it: in a story like this, some heads are bound to roll. Version Zero isn't for everyone, but I recommend it to any reader who is looking for something different to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Chen

    This story is “dystopian” yet is so close to our reality it’s scary. How much data does big tech really suck from you? A lot. Yoon brings his unique writer’s voice back again - this time for “adults.” As always, the character relationships are so complex and dynamic throughout the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This makes me want to use social media a lot less haha. Very interesting and a little weird.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adeel

    "Max came up with new ways of getting users to give emotional data to Wren without knowing it. This without knowing it part was important. For as it grew, Wren had garnered a certain reputation.” Version Zero by David Yoon focuses on the character of Max a tech guru who works at a fictional Facebook type company called Wren. After questioning what goes on with the data Wren gather from its loyal users, Max soon meets the axe man as he’s fired from his job and essentially blackballed from working "Max came up with new ways of getting users to give emotional data to Wren without knowing it. This without knowing it part was important. For as it grew, Wren had garnered a certain reputation.” Version Zero by David Yoon focuses on the character of Max a tech guru who works at a fictional Facebook type company called Wren. After questioning what goes on with the data Wren gather from its loyal users, Max soon meets the axe man as he’s fired from his job and essentially blackballed from working at any other tech company. Now that Max has time to think about his next move, after much pondering Max and his long time friend, co-worker, and the woman he’s loved for many years Akiko decide to take matter into their own hands. How you may ask? Max and Akiko decide to break/reboot the internet. At first they are helped with the inclusion of Max’s best friend and Akiko’s boyfriend Shane. But to their shock a surprise ally awaits this trio. What the three will learn is that they may think what they’re doing is right, but sometimes the consequences of our actions can lead to even worse situations. In this case, consequences that will change the dynamic of the world forever. I do love a read that makes me reflect on society and the world we live in today. Version Zero was definitely one of those books that did that for me. It highlights current issues such as social media addiction, how we’ve become so dependant on likes, the rise of trolls and cyber bullying, and the fact that so much of our private data is being passed around from one corporation to another. One thing I thought that the novel really highlights was how fast we are to get over serious issues that occur in the world. One minute we are all up in arms on social media about a certain issue and then the next minute everyone forgets about said issue like nothing happened. When considering the characters, I liked all of them. Max was brilliant and very relatable, especially in terms of his immigrant parents and how hard working they are. A line from the book that will stay with me is when Max’s father says “In this country it’s live to work,” his dad would explain without bitterness. Not work to live.” The parallels of Max’s parents and mine was pretty similar as mine are also immigrants who have been working their socks off for me and my siblings since I was born. I also loved how Max didn’t shy away from letting his superiors know they were doing wrong by giving away the information of its user data to other parties. I felt for Max when he got sacked and then blackballed. But seeing him come together with Akkiko and Shane really spurred him on. Akkiko who also works at Wren and is the main hacker of the group was a superb character as well. I loved her intelligence and her chemistry with Max was great. In another world I’m sure both of them would make a great couple. In terms of Akiko’s boyfriend Shane, he isn’t as smart as Akiko and Max but he makes up for it in his own way. There’s another character in the story who goes by the name of Pilot Markham. I won’t say too much about him at this moment but I will say he was an extremely complex character and had a really heartbreaking backstory. The writing was very reflective and on point when it comes to showcasing how addicted we have become to social media and how it has so much control over our lives. Yoon also highlights the lack of accountability of the companies that operate these corporations. They could be doing so much more to stop hate and racism from spreading on their platforms but don’t do enough to stop it. David Yoon made some fantastic points regarding many issues going on today. There were also so many plot twists in this novel and it kept me on the edge till the end. The ending was just 🤯🤯🤯. Like I never expected what happened to go down and it really took me by surprise how dark things turned. I would understand some people being taken aback by it but for me it helped in creating a really impactful ending. Overall, this was a spectacular novel full of thrilling and funny moments. I think this would definitely make a really great TV series and I wouldn’t be surprise if it becomes one in a couple of years. I was reminded a lot of TV shows such as Mr Robot and the gaming series Watch Dogs when reading the book. David Yoon is a fantastic writer and I really can’t wait to read more of his work in the future. I really enjoyed his writing especially his description of the characters, their thoughts, and how they expressed their emotions. Thank you so much to Putnam books for gifting me a copy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christopher The Reader

    Hi everyone, Its Christopher the reader here and the book we are here to talk about tonight is Version Zero. I first read this book in June and It took me a few days to finish. I am now going to talk about some of the book details. It was first published in March, 2021. It was told using 3rd person point of view with a small part at the beginning and end in 1st of Akiko' point of view. The book had 5 part's and all together the book had 349 pages. - I liked the formatting of internet conversation Hi everyone, Its Christopher the reader here and the book we are here to talk about tonight is Version Zero. I first read this book in June and It took me a few days to finish. I am now going to talk about some of the book details. It was first published in March, 2021. It was told using 3rd person point of view with a small part at the beginning and end in 1st of Akiko' point of view. The book had 5 part's and all together the book had 349 pages. - I liked the formatting of internet conversations that were within the book (1st shown on page 129) To be honest the book did give me Ready player one vibes at times which I really liked as I enjoyed reading that book. To be honest when I first saw this book I thought that it would have been more of a thriller and sci fi kind of thing with a lot of action. For me personally I just enjoy reading books with a lot of action and with this book it just didn't have that much. I found the pacing of the book slow especially the start and middle part. I wasn't a huge fan of some of the wording that was used in the book. I felt liked I would have liked it more if a lot of the scenes was shortened down a bit and for it to have had more action and intense scenes. - I liked the character, the things that they do made a lot of them feel realistic. My favourite character had to be Brayden, I found him funny and would have liked to have read more scenes with him in. To be honest I didn't enjoy the writing style that much, It felt a little odd reading the way the characters would referring to each other and also the way a lot of the character were described it also made it a bit challenging to picture characters because it didn't have much character details. I did also feel as if we were introduced to a lot of characters at once and because of that it was hard to connect probably like I would have liked too which made some characters feel flat. , many of the characters just didn't feel like they were the age there were said to be within the book, I think they were written this way for the young adult readers as that was one of the tags that the book is down under but for me it didn't feel like it worked that well. I think I would have liked the book more as a young adult if instead Max's character was that. For the story to have been based on his family friend or something and Max discovering things that the adults were working on and he tells his friends making the friends work as a team to stop what was going on and then for the other character to come in and for the story to go that way. - I liked the ending though I could see where things where heading, it did get a little predictable with the 'shock' reveal not having as hard an impact as it could have had. I wasn't a huge fan of this book but I thought it was okay. if it was turned into a movie, I would probably watch it. I'm planning on maybe trying to re-read the book sometime in the future. For each book that I read, I rate it out of 10, so for this I'm going to give it 6 or 3/5 on GoodReads. Remember this was what I thought about the Book personally and I suggest that you give it a go for yourself, as it will maybe be one of you're favourites, you never know. *I will come back to this and edit the review as I haven't slept yet

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In this novel, main character Max gets fired from a Facebook-like social media behemoth called Wren when he questions what they are doing with their user data. Along with his best friend and long-time unrequited crush Akiko, and with a little help from her non-techie boyfriend who is Max’s other best friend, they decide to do a little hack on Wren. But when their efforts catch the attention of a reclusive tech billionaire, their plan gets bigger than they previously thought. I loved David Yoon’s In this novel, main character Max gets fired from a Facebook-like social media behemoth called Wren when he questions what they are doing with their user data. Along with his best friend and long-time unrequited crush Akiko, and with a little help from her non-techie boyfriend who is Max’s other best friend, they decide to do a little hack on Wren. But when their efforts catch the attention of a reclusive tech billionaire, their plan gets bigger than they previously thought. I loved David Yoon’s YA charmer Frankly In Love, so I’m very sorry to say that this one did not work for me at all for so many reasons. First, it’s written in a really weird style - for example, it’s basically set in an alternate version of our world but people talk weird - like describing people as “Whitemen” or “Browns,” or characters always referring to each other as mister (like “Mister Max”), plus just generally oddly stylized snarky writing. Second, the point that big tech is bad and people are dumb for giving out all their data for free is probably true but not exactly a new idea so it doesn’t need to be hammered THAT hard or the tech CEOs made so evil. Indeed, not unlike my reaction to Sarah Langan’s Good Neighbors, I felt like the satire was SO over the top that it totally undercut the points the book was trying to make. I thought David Egger’s The Circle did a much better job making similar points to this book in a much more entertaining way. Finally, the ending just went so off the rails, and then was followed by a somewhat weak epilogue. All that being said, at least it didn’t bore me. And I can’t work up enough hatred for it to merit one star, so two stars for me. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This near future thriller about the dark side of our online & social media obsessed culture will please fans of The Warehouse by Rob Hart, Ready Player One (and Two) by Ernie Cline, and those who enjoy science fiction thrillers in general. Max, an engineer at a Facebook type company called Wren, discovers that all the data mining Wren had done is being prepared to be sold to other big corporations and government agencies, including the NSA and Russian intelligence. He and his best friend / sec This near future thriller about the dark side of our online & social media obsessed culture will please fans of The Warehouse by Rob Hart, Ready Player One (and Two) by Ernie Cline, and those who enjoy science fiction thrillers in general. Max, an engineer at a Facebook type company called Wren, discovers that all the data mining Wren had done is being prepared to be sold to other big corporations and government agencies, including the NSA and Russian intelligence. He and his best friend / secret crush Akiko decide to hack Wren and to try and break everyone's addiction to likes. The problem with hacks though, is that they don't last and Wren is able to restore their site. Max, Akiko, and her boyfriend plan another hack exposing the secret documents of Wren's top executives as well as their plans to sell their users data to the highest bidders. Some folks delete their accounts, but again the next news cycle comes and people keep using Wren and other apps out of ease and convenience. Max and his friends then receive an invitation to meet with a reclusive former tech giant who wants to join them in their hacking and plans to bring down the big tech companies controlling our lives. What starts as a plan to expose the "big 5" tech CEOs for who they really are and what they really think of their users, turns into something much more dangerous that may just reboot the internet in ways we can't imagine.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mayar El Mahdy

    Ah... The American Qualityland. All the dystopia of modern internet but with Trump! and SJWs! and Holocaust Deniers! All that stuff that is totally relevant inf you're not American... yeah, right. I liked the plot... until a certain point. It's thrilling and cool. However, the writing style is so annoying. It feels like it was copied from Google Translate where the words don't mean what they are supposed to mean. The book is too long, and the ending is so odd and old-timey. I guess it's worth the Ah... The American Qualityland. All the dystopia of modern internet but with Trump! and SJWs! and Holocaust Deniers! All that stuff that is totally relevant inf you're not American... yeah, right. I liked the plot... until a certain point. It's thrilling and cool. However, the writing style is so annoying. It feels like it was copied from Google Translate where the words don't mean what they are supposed to mean. The book is too long, and the ending is so odd and old-timey. I guess it's worth the time to read, but not that memorable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jess Witkins

    3.5 stars Topical and well-paced. Using real life examples and issues we're facing today, David Yoon created a realistic view into the digital world and those that run it, sometimes through questionable means. I loved the discussion on how the internet was created for ultimate anonymity and now it's tracking everything we do, where we go, and who we know. Another fabulous discussion point inside includes man's need to go to destroy and how we do that by taking the human out of humanity. Very time 3.5 stars Topical and well-paced. Using real life examples and issues we're facing today, David Yoon created a realistic view into the digital world and those that run it, sometimes through questionable means. I loved the discussion on how the internet was created for ultimate anonymity and now it's tracking everything we do, where we go, and who we know. Another fabulous discussion point inside includes man's need to go to destroy and how we do that by taking the human out of humanity. Very timely and yet a great speculative read. Will make you question your rights and safety online.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    3.5. What began with really good though-provoking questions about the small fiefdoms created by the internet or “empty” age and the dismal impact this has had on individuals/society was unfortunately dwarfed by the bonkers plot developments in the second and third acts. I also found the characters to be pretty immature, which didn’t jive with how organized and mission-oriented they were also purported to be. All probably due to the author’s transition over from YA fiction.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    DNF at 35% I couldn't get into this at all; I tried reading it a few times and felt mostly bored, partly because I had read similar stories in 'adult' books that were exceptional. This is the second 'solo' book by David Yoon that didn't work for me. :( DNF at 35% I couldn't get into this at all; I tried reading it a few times and felt mostly bored, partly because I had read similar stories in 'adult' books that were exceptional. This is the second 'solo' book by David Yoon that didn't work for me. :(

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. Wow, this book completely eviscerated our culture and the ways we've sold ourselves to technology. Though the companies and CEOs were fictionalized, it was easy to imagine the companies & technologies that inspired them in their place. I loved the quirky writing style, and developed deep empathy for the main characters. The ending was a bit outlandish, but I appreciate that the author didn't leave us hanging. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. Wow, this book completely eviscerated our culture and the ways we've sold ourselves to technology. Though the companies and CEOs were fictionalized, it was easy to imagine the companies & technologies that inspired them in their place. I loved the quirky writing style, and developed deep empathy for the main characters. The ending was a bit outlandish, but I appreciate that the author didn't leave us hanging.

  26. 5 out of 5

    YY

    This was such a fun read! It's like Black Mirror but with a lot of heart and humour injected into it. If you're familiar with Silicon Valley and start-up culture, you'll appreciate the satire. This was such a fun read! It's like Black Mirror but with a lot of heart and humour injected into it. If you're familiar with Silicon Valley and start-up culture, you'll appreciate the satire.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elli (Kindig Blog)

    Version Zero did not initially sell itself to me and I must admit I found the first 10 percent to be so bad that if I hadn’t been reading the book for NetGalley I would have put it down and never picked it back up again. That said, I’m happy that I stuck with it as past the first 10 percent is a decent novel with a good deal to say on the dangers of how we use and are being used by the internet in modern day society. I think my main problem with the beginning of the book was that it involves a lo Version Zero did not initially sell itself to me and I must admit I found the first 10 percent to be so bad that if I hadn’t been reading the book for NetGalley I would have put it down and never picked it back up again. That said, I’m happy that I stuck with it as past the first 10 percent is a decent novel with a good deal to say on the dangers of how we use and are being used by the internet in modern day society. I think my main problem with the beginning of the book was that it involves a lot of characters as we meet Max and his co-workers and bosses at Wren – a version of Facebook. David Yoon seems to be very bad at describing people and so we get descriptions solely consisting of their race and job title, for example ‘Whiteman this’ or ‘Brown that’. We are told multiple times, for example that Maurice is an African American security guard but nothing else about him. This felt like a very lazy way of introducing characters and made me feel a bit uneasy. There is also a point where a Latino character calls a white character the N word which I really think should be edited out prior to publication as it was completely unnecessary. The lazy descriptions become a lot less problematic later in the book where there’s only 5 characters and they have been properly described and filled out. When I first started making notes as I read the book, I noted that it felt that Yoon was an older author who was attempting (and failing) to sound cool. As someone in their 30s this felt really cringey even for me so I hate to think what a Gen Z would make of it! There’s references to ‘Cool-boss Justin’ and sentences such as ‘he super much believed in that old tech cliché’ which was just painful to read. Again, this began to balance out and was a lot better in the later stages of the book so perhaps the author needs to go back and make the two halves gel stylistically better together. There were also a few things that did not make sense and I feel that a good edit would have sorted these out. ‘There was a low flissilating sound’ is said at one point – flissilating is not a word! There’s also a few times where a character confusingly throws a fireball at the sea with his palms which I didn’t understand. I realise I haven’t perhaps sold the book very well but hiding within the bad writing is a good story. Max, Akiko and Shane are really well described, and I felt like we really got to know them and their progression as characters as we went through the story. I liked the jumps to discussion boards and news shows and this helped to keep the story fresh and well-paced. A lot of the book relies heavily on very thinly veiled parallels to technology we have at the moment, however although some exposition is needed for fictional events, the book also explains concepts such as ‘hashtags’ and ‘emojis’ which felt very jarring and quite patronising. The book has a well-paced plot that really ramped up towards the end with a gory and action-packed climax. I could see where events where going though and it did get a little predictable with the ‘shock’ reveal not having as hard an impact as it could have had. There’s some really good points made by the author about how companies are using our data and how far they need to go before we snap and delete our accounts. Overall, Version Zero needs a much better edit to strengthen its beginning, but if you can keep going past the lazy writing, there’s a good story with an important point to be made. Thank you to NetGalley & HQ stories for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for a (very) honest review. For more of my reviews check out www.kindig.co.uk

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karlito

    Uh. So I definitely liked parts of the book. Sometimes a lot. The love triangle between the three main characters will strongly resonate with many nerdy boys who know what's it like to be in love with a smart, beautiful nerdy girl above their league. I imagine this may be an overused trope in the modern YA or romance but since I don't read these genres I liked it. It felt real and full of heart. The descriptions of the high echelons of the tech world and the kind of conversations that are likely Uh. So I definitely liked parts of the book. Sometimes a lot. The love triangle between the three main characters will strongly resonate with many nerdy boys who know what's it like to be in love with a smart, beautiful nerdy girl above their league. I imagine this may be an overused trope in the modern YA or romance but since I don't read these genres I liked it. It felt real and full of heart. The descriptions of the high echelons of the tech world and the kind of conversations that are likely going on there were a blast. It's always amusing to see the difference between the public faces of politicians, captains of the industry and other VIPs and their real personality - think House of Cards - and it's especially fun in this book. As for the characters, one of the 2-star reviewers here rated them as "insufferable". I mean, they're not exactly on the level of Dickens or Austen but I liked them. They're mostly archetypes, but fun and well rounded ones, plus Pilot Markham is pretty inscrutable and engaging throughout. Now to the flaws. Unfortunately Version Zero is quite political and not always in a subtle way. In fact, most of it is VERY on the nose, complete with professorial explanations of what a "SJW" is, to name one. I have no idea what's the author's social bubble of choice but I for one haven't heard anyone using that term unironically in many years now. Also David Yoon is clearly a fan of a few popular narratives - unrestricted freedom of speech is bad, free markets are bad, politicians are industry puppets (but political regulation of the industry is a moral imperative? Yeah, don't ask) - and he's not afraid to smack readers with them over and over again. I imagine words like "nuance" and "shades of grey" are strictly banned in David Yoon's household. Normally I'd say "I can't wait to see what this author is capable of in 10 years". But looking at his webpage he's not exactly a college student anymore. Could've fooled me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dedra ~ A Book Wanderer

    I was thrilled to be a winner of an e-galley for David Yoon’s latest adult debut, Version Zero. I read his previous two young adult novels and adored them, so I didn’t really care what Version Zero was about. However, I couldn’t help being drawn in by this timely Sci-Fi offering, intrigued by the premise but a little nervous about how close to reality it might venture. Version Zero has a somewhat slow build, but I was never bored. I was interested in the characters, what role they would play in t I was thrilled to be a winner of an e-galley for David Yoon’s latest adult debut, Version Zero. I read his previous two young adult novels and adored them, so I didn’t really care what Version Zero was about. However, I couldn’t help being drawn in by this timely Sci-Fi offering, intrigued by the premise but a little nervous about how close to reality it might venture. Version Zero has a somewhat slow build, but I was never bored. I was interested in the characters, what role they would play in the unfolding plot, and ultimately who would become the hero or the villain. The plot is not so very far from how reality feels right now—our dependence on social media, our addiction to likes, our FOMO or fear of missing out. And if I hadn’t already deactivated my Facebook, this book might have pushed me past my hesitancy. But while it felt close to reality, there was still enough of the feeling of fantasy to keep it from being too real. If that makes sense… Plus, Yoon always infuses his novels with humor, which helps to make the stressful subjects more palatable. HOWEVER, I can’t help but fantasize that somewhere out there there’s a group of underground savvy techs trying to take down the big tech companies—or at least make them better. Because while the products they promote aren’t necessarily bad, it’s the way they use our data that is. Anyway, back to the book. Despite this one being promoted as an adult novel, it still very much read like a young adult novel to me. The only difference was the age of the characters. Several years out of college, they are working in Silicon Valley but have been friends since high school. The story may have built slowly, but I read the second half of the novel in one sitting, unable to put it down once the action started. And wow, what an ending! While there were some predictable moments, there were also action-packed surprises. I can definitely see Version Zero getting adapted into a film with its setting in Silicon Valley, diverse cast, and topical storyline. Yoon has firmly placed himself among the authors I consider to be refreshing and entertaining. I’ll be excited to see what he does next! Thank you to G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Shelf Awareness, and Netgalley for providing me with an advance copy. Check out my review at A Book Wanderer #popsugarreadingchallenge2021 (prompt #23 - A book with something broken on the cover)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nannette Demmler

    ARC provided by Penguin Group via NetGalley for an honest review This book and I got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once I was in and committed it ended up being absolutely brilliant. I was so glad it worked out, because I really didn’t want to be disappointed by a book from this author. The rocky start was mostly due to the language, especially the slang, and somewhat the writing style. It is a science fiction, and it took me a while to figure out that this was a slightly alternate world to t ARC provided by Penguin Group via NetGalley for an honest review This book and I got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once I was in and committed it ended up being absolutely brilliant. I was so glad it worked out, because I really didn’t want to be disappointed by a book from this author. The rocky start was mostly due to the language, especially the slang, and somewhat the writing style. It is a science fiction, and it took me a while to figure out that this was a slightly alternate world to the one we currently live in. There are lots of similarities, but there is slightly more advanced tech and the slang and dialogue is very different. But once I had this all figured out, it really was a great look at how technology controls us and how that can be both good, but maybe mostly bad. I really liked our heroes. Max is a not a perfect hero in any sense of the word, but once he realizes what is going on at his company, he knows that he must do something about it. Most of the story is through his point of view, which was good. It was hard to watch him being fired and then black balled from all tech companies just because he wanted his company to do the right thing. Akido is also a very likable character. She is extremely smart and is actually the one who does all of the hacking and coding, but Max is the one to make the overall plans. They make a good team. Akido’s boyfriend, Shane is more or less the moral support and a little bit of muscle. Pilot Markham was the reclusive tech baron that they end up teaming up with. He was an interesting fellow. Right from the start I didn’t totally trust him, which ended up being the right call. He does do right for the team in the end though. But I ended up not liking him for his methods, although he does have a sad backstory. Although the characters are well drawn and make you want to cheer for them, it is the story that really gets you in the end. I loved how it started off as a sort of satire on the whole social media issue of collecting data and what they really do with it. The story does a really nice job of summing up how there really is no such thing as privacy anymore. But it also points out what people are willing to give up in order to keep their social media going. You don’t want to miss out on anything right? I do have a couple of negatives on the whole book. The ending, or basically the last third of the book, got a little bit weird and violent. I sort of wasn’t expecting the story to go that way, and I’m not totally convinced that it should have. I also got a bit tired of Max pining for Akido constantly. There is an interesting twist on the love triangle here, in that Max is in love with his best friend who also happens to be his other best friend’s girlfriend. As always the emotions and love issues are nicely done. This book is highly recommended and even though it is being marketed as an adult book, I think there is certainly going to be young adults who are also going to love it. Especially if they are already fans of David Yoon’s other books. https://elnadesbookchat.com

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