Review: Time Zero by Carolyn Cohagan

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Fifteen-year-old Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is ruled by extremists. Girls aren't allowed to get an education, they need permission to speak to boys, and all marriages are negotiated by contract. But Mina's grandmother has secretly been teaching her to read, leading Mina down a path of rebellion, romance, and danger that not only threatens to destroy her family's reputation, it could get Mina killed.

Suspenseful and empowering, Time Zero is about what it's like to be powerless, underestimated, and manipulated and what it takes to go against society to assert who you actually want to be.

I don't know about you guys, but I love a good YA dystopian, especially when it gives The Handmaid's Tale vibes. Therefore, when I caught wind of Carolyn Cohagan's Time Zero, I knew I had to read it! As it turns out, Time Zero was a compelling, fast paced, and thought provoking addition to YA lit, perfect for adults and teens alike. 

Time Zero begins the story of Mina Clark on the day of her offering, a day Mina has been steadily dreading. Her impending offering means her days of hanging out with her best friend, seeing her grandmother on a daily basis, and, worst of all, secretly learning to read with her grandmother are coming to a close. Soon she will be married to the highest bidder, a man who only views her as a baby maker, not as an equal. However, what's supposed to be a stereotypical offering day, turns into something else entirely. The day of her offering Mina's grandmother suffers a terrible fall, landing in the hospital. Mina knows she has to go retrieve her grandmother's primer, the magazine she has been teaching Mina to read from. On her mission, Mina makes a new alliance, one who changes her life in more ways than she could ever imagine, one that will have Mina test new limits and reach new heights. But will the impending chaos be worth the trouble? 

One of my favorite aspects of Time Zero was the world in which Carolyn Cohagan created within its pages. Time Zero takes place in a futuristic New York City, where the citizens of the city are living in an oppressive time. 

Woman are forced to cover their bodies and faces at all times so that they don't tempt a man. They aren't allowed to read or work. They aren't allowed to speak first to a man. Instead, they must wait for the man to speak to them. The rules go on and on. They were crazy and ridiculous yet frighteningly real - Carolyn based them on religious rules found throughout the world, even in the United States. 

My heart ached for Mina and the women of her world, especially when the worst of the cruelty was shown on the page. Part of me couldn't believe that this could happen, but another part of me, could believe it, because rules and punishments that Mina faced are rules women are facing at this exact moment. It was eye-opening and thought-provoking.  I fully applaud Carolyn for taking on this incredibly hard topic/world building. She did a fantastic job with it, and I hope that this read makes into the hands of girls around the world. 

Moving on, the plot of this continues a lot of mystery and suspense. At the start of the book, Mina believes she knows everything there is to know about her world and her grandmother, she thinks everything is black-and-white; however, as the story progresses, so many big revelations come out of the woodwork, ones that shake Mina's world. I was often glued to the pages, dying to know what would happen next. I wanted to know more about Mina's world and the secrets that lied within. Additionally, I wanted to know what was beyond the walls. 

The one part of this book that I had difficulty with was the characters. Don't get me wrong, I liked Mina...I felt for her...I rooted for her to find a way to get out of the terrible things that were coming her way. However, at the same time, I lacked a good connection with her, sometimes I just couldn't understand the things she was doing, the certain risks she was taking for people she barely knew. Also, her romance with Juda felt slightly forced...I didn't always feel the connection there, which again made it hard for me to connect with her character as well as his. I'm hoping, though, the sequel will be able to connect me more to Mina. 

Regardless of my slight issue, Time Zero is still a worthwhile read. I look forward to reading the sequel! 

Grade: B

Time Zero is now out!

Source: Publicist at WildBoundPR - thanks Julie!

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  1. It's interesting how the author based this futuristic society on elements of present-day society and religions - it makes it feel more real, like something that could actually happen. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Angela! Yes, it did feel very real because of that element - very eerie.

  2. I hadn't heard of this one before now. I'm not sure it's my type of read but it definitely has an interesting premise, and I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Julie! It's a littler known title - I didn't even know if until I got an email about it; however, it has won some big awards.

  3. It has Handmaid's Tale vibes and it's set in Manhattan? My interest is certainly piqued. Disappointing that you didn't feel more of a connection to the main character, but overall it still sounds like a really solid read. Great review!

    1. Yes, it was still a very solid read. I think if I had read this back in high school I would have had no problem relating to her - she just felt very young to me.

  4. And we thought Manhattan was bad now! Seriously though I love a good YA dystopian as well, and this one sounds great. Although not for Mina- yikes! Even though you found her a little hard to relate to, sounds like this was otherwise pretty solid! And the scary part is, like you said, that it's not that unrealistic for some women in the world.

  5. I think I'm ready to get back into reading dystopian again. I took a break for a while!
    Jen Ryland


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