Reviews of Dark Fiction

Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

For whatever reason, I was thinking this novel was going to be some dark apocalyptic tale similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but with robots. Boy, was I ever wrong!

This was a beautifully written, fast paced story about a boy and his dog. And by dog I mean robot. And by robot, I mean tiger. All this makes it sound complicated, but it’s really not. A boy and his childhood companion are trying to survive the end of the world as they know it. Will they make it? You’ll have to read this and see!

To be completely honest, when I read Sea of Rust back in 2018, it didn’t knock my socks off. I did enjoy it, but I think this book is a lot more engaging. I really cared for these people, especially little Ezra, who was remarkably brave, but not so brave that he became an unrealistic character, if you know what I mean. He was lovable, he was smart and he was caring so all that made it much easier to root for him and for Pounce.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but I thought it was as original as a story of this type can be. (AI turning against humanity is an old trope, let’s face it.) The writing was brisk, not too descriptive, while at the same time creating a futuristic but believable world where AI is a part of all aspects of life. It’s really not that far off from today. After reading this, it seems way closer than I would like it to be.

Overall, I thought this was an action packed adventure story with compelling characters, both human and not. With a dash of humor and a whole lot of feeling, DAY ZERO kept me glued to its pages to the very end, and I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two.

Highly recommended!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.

Day Zero Book Cover Day Zero
C. Robert Cargill
Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Harper Voyager


In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world.

It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh "nannybot" fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he'd arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he'll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt. But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.

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