Book: The Zero Game
This was a book on CD we rented for listening during our trip. It was okay, a mindless political thriller that entertained, but had some surprisingly artificial action sequences and forced drama that didn't gell with the cerebral storyline. The idea was interesting: the "zero game" is a game bored politicians in Washington came up with in which they bet on the outcomes of various bills and events. It's all secret, with no one knowing who else is in the game. The bets are always on "sure things," events where the outcome is practically guaranteed, or silly meaningless things like if someone can insert certain keywords into a senator's speech. The idea is to bring spice into trite and staid political lives of endless speeches. This all goes wrong, however, when someone uses the game to murder, and then the main character uncovers a huge conspiracy. Unfortunately, the novel's strangely and awkwardly paced: one main character dies early into the story, suddenly shifting to another. That character is written first person, but we occasionally switch to an omnicient narrator at times to keep up with other threads of the story. Then the link between the game and conspiracy is extremely weak, and the conspiracy itself is convoluted, and if you think about it for oh, two seconds, you'll find about fourteen dozen plot holes big enough to drive semis through. Pretty lame. Add in an overly dramatic reading, forced drama (The main character's flashlight dies so he's trapped in the dark -- ooh, drama!), and you're in for a tiring read. It's also much too long. But it's not all bad. There are a couple interesting characters, and some of the political stuff is astute. Unfortunately nothing works together and the whole thing is rather a mishmash of dreck in the end. Save your time and do something more valuable, like counting the bumps on your ceiling.