Book Title – Zero Day
Author Name – S. Hussain Zaidi
Publisher – HarperColins India
My rating – 4⭐
As per the internet, “Zero-day” is a broad term that describes security vulnerabilities that hackers can use to attack systems. In layman’s terms, “zero-day” refers to the fact that the vendor or developer has only just learned of the flaw – which means they have “zero days” to fix it. A zero-day attack takes place when hackers exploit the flaw before developers have a chance to address it. In the new digital world where we are increasingly becoming dependent on the non-traditional, technical ways of life, such vulnerabilities do sound scary, isn’t it?
And the eminent crime writer S.Hussain Zaidi, explores a whole new world of terrorism exploiting this susceptibility of the system.
About the author
S. Hussain Zaidi is an Indian author and former investigative journalist. His previous books include Black Friday, Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Dongri to Dubai, Byculla to Bangkok, Mumbai Avengers and Eleventh Hour, some of which have been adapted into Bollywood films.
Mumbai is under attack. But this time the terrorists have not seized a building or captured hostages. Instead, the attack has come online. One fine morning all the traffic signals of the financial capital of the country stop working. And the city is in complete chaos.
Anti-terrorism squad head, Shahwaz Ali Mirza receives mail from an unknown sender who calls himself Muntaqim, claiming the responsibility for the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The mail warns of more such attacks to paralyze Mumbai and in turn India. Mirza quickly ropes in the efficient officers IG Cybercrime Vikrant Singh and Major Shaina Varma of NSG to tackle this unique attack from the dark web.
What follows from there is a roller coaster ride and the department’s first brush with cyberterrorism. It exposes the zero-day vulnerability of the country’s system that could ruin everything.
What works for me
The adrenaline rush the initial few pages give starts the story on a high note. As a reader I find it hooking us immediately.
The book is medium paced. And that helps the readers a lot as there are too many technical things associated. However, the pace and the simple language make the reading experience smooth.
The language is crisp and without any ornamentation which is another plus point.
Also the characterization. Though Mirza and Vikrant might be on focus, the other characters were also brilliantly sketched, with each of them given specific roles in the story.
But, the part that intrigued me most was how the story depicted the current political situation diplomatically without taking names. Our obsession with Pakistan, the political parties taking leverage off that and how the actual threat of China is being ignored, has been exposed in a well-crafted manner.
What could have been better
The second half of the book seemed tamer than the thrilling first half. Even the final climax was not that effective. It all came too easy, too soon.
Also at a point in time, I felt the vindication of the anti-hero was justified but the story served no justice to his cause rather leaving it open.
However, these are my personal opinions and may not concur with all.
Overall it is a quick read, an engaging one and I am hoping to see it adapted to screen soon.
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Agree with you, Sreeparna, on all the points except characterization. I feel the book didn’t do justice to Shaina.
Well can’t say not justice she was given a strong plot and then retired hurt
Hoping to see more of her in next books. But I was glad there was not much overboard with the romance part.
Cultivating informants is a very basic thing in intelligence. She is a Major, with prior experience. She could have decided to cultivate the informants on her own without getting the idea from Mirza. Mirza is shown as a legendary spymaster at the expense of Shaina here, in my opinion.
In another incidence in the heat of the moment, despite her training, Shaina leaves her mobile in the living room, but Vikrant doesn’t. She is shown as careless. This could have been avoided easily.
I could go on….but I hope you get my point. Anyway, you don’t need to wait for the next book to see more of her. Read ‘The Endgame.’ I think that it’s the only book that does justice to her in the series so far.
A good review. This surely inspired me to read the book and check it out for myself. Thanks for the inputs.