Zero Sum Game

S.L. Huang. Tor, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-18025-4
This frustrating debut SF action-thriller introduces plenty of cool ideas but never fleshes them out. Superpowered math genius and mercenary Cass Russell is put on a challenging case: take down Pithica, a villainous organization led by telepath Dawna Polk. Cass is a loner, but this tangled conspiracy is too hard to handle solo, so she teams up with principled PI Arthur Tresting and gun-toting Christian crusader Rio. Pithica’s plan is to establish a new world order through a legion of brainwashed agents. Cass’s mind-bending math magic is constantly explained away with no more sophistication than “I’m really good at math... that’s all,” which gives her carte blanche to dodge bullets, do death-defying parkour, eavesdrop through closed doors, read people’s heart rates at a glance, and block telepathic attacks. Readers get no insight into Cass’s history, so a late twist involving past events falls completely flat. At one point, while facing off against sniper henchmen, Cass quips, “What is this, a cheesy action movie?” Huang’s adventure story is certainly cheesy, but its fatal flaw is that it never manages to be fun. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-18027-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-31244-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-1-250-74989-5
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