“Daybreak Zero” by John Barnes (Ace, 2011)

Daybreak Zero
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John Barnes sets the stage in Directive 51 by ending the world as we know it, and bringing to life a new, altered one as the diminished population tries to restart civilization.  But just when it seems like the right start to getting things back to some semblance of order, people soon find out that the terrifyingly brilliant movement known as “Daybreak” isn’t completely finished yet, plus when its comes right down to it, people overall are just selfish and greedy, especially when their lives are at stake.

Heather O’Grainne not only has a new world to contend with, but a newborn to also take up her time, nevertheless she’s going to keep doing her job and getting her viewpoint in no matter what; she was after all one of the very few people on the planet who knew about Daybreak without being a member of the movement.  The nation is still very divided, primarily with two different populations on either side of the country, doing what they can do get by.  Meanwhile Heather is challenged with a diverse team of scientists, engineers, spies, and anyone else she thinks she needs in the small town of Pueblo, Colorado to start putting the country back together again.  As she begins putting together reconnaissance from across the country, the news isn’t good: growing groups that come to be known as “tribals” are amassing and they are relentless in their capturing of those different from them, engaging in torture to whatever means to find out what their prisoners know.  And then there’s the mechanism of Daybreak that still seems to be in full swing and attacking them somehow; the question is whether this is planned or part of some automated system.

Overall it appears that Barnes has a pretty bleak view on humanity, and yet readers will certainly be able to identify actions and events in Daybreak Zero that have certainly reared their ugly heads throughout our own tumultuous history.  Nevertheless, his analytical detail is fascinating in these different populations and groups and what they do to survive and improve their lives.  At times the book drags and could’ve used some editing to speed it up and quicken developments, but Daybreak Zero is an interesting sequel that doesn’t answer all the questions by any means, setting up for the third book in the series.

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Originally written on June 9, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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