Our selection as a ‘Worst’ book does not indicate the book is poorly written. In fact most are written quite well. Just as a ‘Best’ rating does not always mean it is well written either – and many are not. In the case of ‘Forging Zero’ (part of a series) it is very well written and at first we quite enjoyed it. The problem with this book is its content. So is it fair to give it a Worst rating? Would it be fair to give ‘Lolita’ for example, a poor rating because of its content? Yes, we think so. A book must be judged on its entirety to be sure but the actual content is key. If a book is marvelously written but makes no sense or or is boring then it’s not a good book.
This book is definitely not boring. In fact it is one wow of a book. Not only is it 575 pages, but it is unique in almost every way. It’s an alien invasion tale, but most of the action happens away from earth. It has dozens of fascinating characters – including the aliens. The main characters are children, but it is in no way a children’s or a young adult book (in fact we wouldn’t let anyone under 18 read it). It is extremely entertaining as the author invents an complete alien world including the most minor details and language.
At the beginning we couldn’t put it down and we were more than ready to give it a ‘Best’ rating. It is billed as the highest rated science fiction book on Amazon. But as we read on there were times we had to stop and even loathed picking it back up.
In this day of hyper sensitivity, political correctness, and child protection (heck, mothers routinely get arrested for letting their kids go to a park alone), we have no idea how this book got published or acquired a readership. Don’t get us wrong, we’re glad it did, but we are shocked.
The main reason the characters are children is because all the aliens seem to want from earth was all the children between 5 and 12, to draft into their army. Okay, that’s risky but interesting. The problem is the aliens routinely humiliate, abuse, and torture them in the name of discipline and military training. And we don’t mean torture like playing loud rock music everyone was so upset about at Abu Ghraib, we mean breaking bones, ripping off skin, clawing them, and eating them alive. And when they’re not undergoing that, the kids are doing endless push ups, running a hundred laps, or cleaning a vast plaza with a rake through the night. The reason the aliens can do all this is that their technology heals the broken bodies so they can do it all over again.
They also feed the kids growth hormones so the five year olds soon have bodies like 16 year olds. Then of course we get the sex. Since the girls were given forced hysterectomies when they were ‘drafted’ sex is plenty much a free for all as soon as their bodies reach simulated puberty. Trouble is these are still 5 and 8 year old minds having sex with 12 year old boys. And for good measure there is plenty of rape thrown in because of the raging hormone diet. All right, we could still take some of this, after all many books are filled with violence and sex and monstrous serial killers, but it just went on and on and on to the point we felt queasy. How many times do we have to get children ripped apart, raped, beaten, tongues cut out, overloaded with pain from an alien device, and even killed and brought back to life, to get the point?
What is the point anyway? Inhumanity? Break them down to build them up? No army on earth would do these things. The author doesn’t just hit the reader over the head with this torture and abuse, she bludgeons us to death with it for 500 plus paages. The main character Joe Dobbs, a 14 year old, could not possibly have survived or remained sane with what he is put through in this book, no matter how tough you think a 14 year old could be.
So we get back to over a thousand five star reviews: yeah, this book has a lot going for it, but gee how to you overlook 575 pages of the worst child abuse you could ever imagine? If people dislike our rating, so be it – our human soul is still intact.