Zero Sum Game by Stefani DeoulZero Sum Game by Stefani Deoul is the second book in the Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure Series. It is a young adult mystery that is crammed full of sarcasm, MMORPGs and of course, intrigue.

Consequences are the worst! ‘Lesbionic brainiac’ Sid and her close-knit group of friends are suffering some major fallout from their last adventure.  Grounded for engaging in some pretty amazing sleuthing (albeit a little too risky in the opinion of their parental units), the friends are now confined to school grounds.  They have been forced to endure three weeks of torture in the form of cafeteria lunches and the embarrassment of being seniors lumped in with the underclass masses, and no end appears to be in sight. 

Until Vikram discovers a way to escape their torment. Their school is entering a prestigious Robotics competition and joining the team means relief from their current restrictions. But the celebration of their regained freedom is short-lived when Vik discovers he’s been hacked. A leader in the online game Contagion, Vik had amassed an impressive arsenal of trophies, tools and bonuses and he is crushed after years of his hard work is gone in an instant. 

Nobody messes with Sid’s friends. Unwilling to let the attack go, Sid decides she is going to get to the bottom of this crime. But when the friends uncover the motive behind cyber theft, they discover the stakes are much higher than just Vik’s gamer status.

The Characters

Zero Sum Game sees the return of the same cast of awesome and diverse characters from the first book, along with a new addition, Ze. Sid is still hyper intelligent, loyal and full of hilarious observations. Her friends are still loyal, supportive and witty. And they all mature a little more as the story moves along. I really enjoyed the realistic trials and triumphs the group of teens experienced while trying to navigate hormones, school pressures, family and coming to terms with who they are. All of this while banding together to solve the mystery of the cyber-attack on Vik. Deoul has made the amazing characters from the first book in the series, even more appealing and engaging in the second book.

The Writing Style

This is a very fast paced book so hold on tight. The story is written in first person narration style from the perspective of Sid, a sharp and snarky teenager with a heart of gold. Deoul does an incredible job of bringing the reader along on Sid’s journey through her inner monologues. The banter, hilarious observations and comedic interjections had me in stitches. The more serious moments of introspection and struggling with feelings were touching. It is a delightful combination an incredibly fun and exciting, yet also incredibly heartwarming read. 

The Pros

I loved the fast pace and humour of the book. There was never a dull moment as you try to keep up with the quick wit and crime solving skills of Sid and her friends. But for all its humour, there is an equally interesting depiction of the angst and turmoil teens experience growing up and I really enjoyed watching the friends as they grappled with these emotions. 

The Cons

Not a thing!

The Conclusion

I love the premise of this story, how it revolves around online gaming, as well as the inclusion of the robotics competition. I also love how the writing style completely draws you into Sid’s character.  It is refreshingly different in content and style. This is a high speed, clever book that is a whole lot of fun to read so if you enjoy a healthy dose of sarcasm mixed with a touching side of feels, then this book is for you. 

Excerpt from Zero Sum Game by Stefani Deoul

We are nearly, but not quite, right where you left us.

I say not quite, because if we were actually right where you left us, we would be indulging our latte cravings at our favorite haunt, the attitudinally challenged Perk This – an environment that somehow makes Imani’s inability to grasp even the most basic math kind of charming.

But sadly we are not there, and there is no charm here.

Here, as in stuck, trapped, slowly suffocating, choking in the soul-sucking, cinderblock, spirit-bannered school lunch hall, suffering from complications caused by serious latte withdrawal, and lack of any other senior-year-of-high-school urban creature comfort. A harsh reality we are forced to endure because our parents, both singularly and collectively, have yet to express anything other than disbelief and anger since our “ill-conceived” (their word, not mine) late-night LARPing-to-find-a-killer expedition. Apparently neither the intent, nor the ultimate success behind our actions, warrants redemption. Okay. Fair enough.  Forget redemption. How about sympathy, or empathy? Compassion maybe. Or even pity? I’m not proud; I will take pity.

Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. I have to say, I’m kind of disappointed in them.

And for the record, we did not embrace our fate quietly. Au contraire, mes amis.

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Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures


Zero Sum Game

Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781612941417
  • Publisher: Bywater Books
  • Stefani Deoul Online  

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Note: I received a free review copy of Zero Sum Game by Stefani Deoul. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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I live in Ontario, Canada. If I’m not seeking out my own adventures, I am reveling in the reading of the adventures of others.