ARC review, book review, young adult

Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti [ARC Review]

swarm-cover-smallTitle: Swarm
Author: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti
Type: Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction, YA
Publisher: Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster
Date published: September 27, 2016
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 448
Source: Publisher

A physical ARC of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

SummaryX-Men meets Heroes when New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld teams up with award-winning authors Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti in the second book of an explosive new trilogy about a group of teens with amazing abilities.

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?

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Recommended to those who enjoy X-Men, Heroes, and Misfits.

I will start my review with the mini review which I wrote for the first book in this series, Zeroes, on Goodreads:

It turns out that I read this book last year! And while I can’t write a full review because it’s no longer fresh, I do remember that I found the superpowers to be extremely unique. I also liked some characters, but hated others. And the plot, while action-packed wasn’t really my cup of tea. I don’t know whether its because I was still freshly disappointed in the TV shows Misfits and Heroes (for different reasons), or if I just expected…more…but I’m hoping that I will be more impressed with the sequel.

Having now read the sequel, I can say that I was in fact more impressed with the sequel, Swarm, which came out on September 27th of this year. I will discuss what I was impressed with, and will then explain my reason for giving this book three starts at the end.

I would first like to go into how impressed I was with the powers with which Westerfeld, Lanagan, and Biancotti came up with for this series. There are numerous superhero stories around, and it’s quite difficult to come up with a power which hasn’t been used before. I particularly liked Anonymous and Flicker’s powers! Anonymous is forgotten by everyone, once he leaves the room, and Flicker can’t see through her own eyes, but can see through the eyes of everyone else who is near her.

This time around, I still disliked Scam, to the point where I skimmed over the chapters featuring his point of view. I also wasn’t too fond of Mob. And even though I did like Anonymous and Flicker’s powers, I did not find that the character themselves were very distinct from one another. They felt a little flat to me.

The writing was clear, and easy to follow. There was some eloquent phrasing, as well as some sections which made me laugh, but I do have to point out that some chapters held my attention better than others. Due to this book having been written by three authors, it is hard to say whether the amount of attention each chapter could hold was due to the person writing, or due to the character being written about.

As for the plot, while I did find it to be a little more interesting than that of the first book, it still wasn’t a story for me. Perhaps this would be the kind of plot which I would enjoy playing out within a movie or TV show, rather than in a book. Or maybe I came in with preconceptions formed due to the discontinuation of the TV show Heroes (which I enjoyed), and my dislike for how the plot of Misfits developed in later seasons. Maybe I simply don’t like superhero books.

The reason why I read the book was in order to experience more of Anonymous and Flicker, and not necessarily together, because their relationship felt a little cliche to me. And I skimmed some chapters, while skipping others (such as Scam’s chapters), which I really really dislike doing. But I also wanted to see how it would end.

I think that there is a lot of potential here, considering the imaginative powers given to these characters, but I simply disliked how it was all executed.



Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier. He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and Afterworlds, came out September 23, 2014. His book Evolution’s Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier’s Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.

Margo Lanagan, born in Waratah, New South Wales, is an Australian writer of short stories and young adult fiction. Many of her books, including YA fiction, were only published in Australia. Recently, several of her books have attracted worldwide attention. Her short story collection Black Juice won two World Fantasy Awards. It was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and the United Kingdom by Gollancz in 2004, and in North America by HarperCollins in 2005. It includes the much-anthologized short story “Singing My Sister Down”. Her short story collection White Time, originally published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in 2000, was published in North America by HarperCollins in August 2006, after the success of Black Juice.

Deborah Biancotti is co-author of the Zeroes series with Scott Westerfeld and Margo Lanagan. Her collections Bad Power and A Book of Endings are available from Twelfth Planet Press and her novella Waking in Winter is available from PS Publishing since March 2016. She’s been nominated for the William L. Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Book, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Aurealis & Ditmar Awards. Deborah lives and writes in inner-city Sydney, Australia.

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3 thoughts on “Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti [ARC Review]

  1. I loved Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, and added his Zeroes and Uglies to my TBR pile. Knowing that he is continuing the Zeroes series will put them a little higher on the list, but your review has me wondering whether I will love the entire book or just certain chapters. Have you read his other series, and if so how would it compare?

    1. Ohhh I will have to check out his Levithian series then! And I read the first book in the Uglies series, and while I didn’t LOVE it, I did want to read the next one, to see what happens. I just haven’t gotten to it yet. And you may like the Zeroes series more than me! Like I said, maybe I’m just not into superhero story lines right now, haha.

      Another thing I would say about comparing Uglies and Zeroes, is that Uglies takes place in a dystopian future, while Zeroes takes place in present time California. This might also be a reason why I didn’t enjoy it as much, because I am not very into reading books which are set in the present time right now.

      I hope my rambles helped, and thanks so much for your comment! 😀

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