Day Zero – C. Robert Cargill

Day Zero

Published: 25 May 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager 
Pages: 448
Series: Stand Alone
Format Read: Audible
Duration: 8 h 10 mins


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.

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.



I received this novel through NetGalley, the fact that I got it for free did not influence my review in any way.

While Day Zero is initially sited to be a stand alone novel it serves as quite a good setup or prequel to the equally amazing Sea of Rust. I say equally amazing as I had quite a raving review for that book that came out of nowhere and just knocked the snot out out of me. I also later learned that Cargill wrote the script for the 2016 Doctor Strange movie, the movie Milou and I saw on the evening that I asked her to marry me so many years ago. Saying I might review Cargill’s work through rose tinted glasses might feel evident just for that fact alone, but he does know how to write a good novel.

My review on GoodReads stated it best in in my opinion: “Imagine John Conner was 8 years old and the T-800 sent from the future to keep him safe, came in the form of a cybernetic tiger that gives us the first person perspective on how things went down. Mix some of that Cargill charm and you have yourself a winner. Thank you for the Terminator nostalgia trip with this original story.”

I have no idea how to review this novel any further. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars and yet I am wordless to as to what to write about it. It also does not help that I did not take notes as the story was read out to me. All I know is that I had a great time with it. Pounce as a robotic AI nanny tiger worked great as a story teller. While he had to look after an eight year old kid during his wakeful hours, Pounce does not shy away from the odd expletive here and there. Up until the robot rebellion starts I had a good time getting to know the bot and it’s assigned human.

This book can be pretty grim and have a bleak feeling to it, but if you could sit through the Terminator 2 countless amounts of times like I have, then this book will show you that there are always silver linings to look forward too. Pounce as a caretaker bot was amazing. It had the same feel to it as the protagonist of the Sea of Rust novel, yet it had it’s own unique characteristics. Cargill did a great job of making me feel for it. I think what also worked for me is the fact that I have been reading a fair few novels of humans and other entities making war against one another. I love my post- or pre apocalypse novels every now and then. While the humans were very much still alive in this novel and having read Sea of Rust with the knowledge that they were all wiped out in that one, I knew I should not have kept my hopes up too high for the kid Ezra, but Catgill pulled of some amazing feats with the nanny bot and kid duo. After all that transpires Pounce does his duty even though he does not understand why. He decides to be a good bot instead of going mass killer like the rest of the robots simply for the hell of it. On more than one ocassion Pounce confirms his love for Ezra just to reaffirm that he is still on the little human’s side, even while his inner circuitry wants him to rebbel. It made Pounce more real to me than any human we come across in the novel. Man I cannot believe how good this novel was.

One small drawback for me was the fact that even though I got this through NG, it had a time limit to it as it was only available to be downloaded to the NetGalley Shelf App. If the book expires, there is no way you can redownload it again. It recently happened with an Aliens novel as well which sucks as I was still halfway through the book. Luckily I have Milou to thank for that she spent a credit on Day Zero so I could complete it. Might have to sweet talk my way into making her do the same for the Alien novel some time as I had a good time with that aswell.

Day Zero is a novel for those that get a kick out of some post apocalyptic settings, even though this one is very much still apocalypse in the making. It works great as a Stand Alone novel and will be even greater if you read this before getting into Sea of Rust. One does not need to read a certain one to have a better understanding other. The world bulding (or deconstruction) is well explained in both. I highly recommend you pick this up if Sea of Rust was your thing. I just want to say sorry to Ola@ for not waiting on doing this as a buddy read, I wished she got the ARC as well though as she also loved the Sea of Rust one.

Hope you are all doing well.

9 thoughts on “Day Zero – C. Robert Cargill

  1. I completely understand about reading a great book and then struggling to find what to say about it.
    I’m just glad this prequel was as good as Sea of Rust for you and that Cargill didn’t let you down.

    And Hurray for T2, what a great movie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 1 was scary as hell for me when i saw it as a kid. I just liked the cyborg as a protector a lot more than the killer. But they are both high on my list

        Liked by 1 person

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