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3.1 out of 5 stars
Code to Zero
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on November 7, 2014
Great
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on December 10, 2013
Just finished reading this after reading 16 other Ken Follett novels in the past year. I am a great fan, especially of his larger novels (POTE, WWE, FOG, WOW)and have looked forward to reading each additional book. I kept this particular one to near the end because of the synopsis & the reviews I had read. I agree with those who say it is one of his weakest efforts in most respects: plot, characterization, setting, writing style & credibility. Don't miss out out on reading Follett's best and his very good; save this until you have read the others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2007
As a fan of Follett, I was sorry to find this book to be in need of a good editor to avoid the multitudinous forward anachronisms [characters who say, in 1958, that "life sucks" and "go figure"] to say nothing of the major factual error in the epilogue... The premise of the story is good and, with a little more respect for the historical setting, the book could well have been fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon August 20, 2006
He wakes up in the men's room at Union Station. He can not remember who he is or how he got there. One shocking look in the mirror tells him he is a bum however he can not believe it. Now he must find out who he is. Watch answer leads him in a different direction and we are intrigued to find more about what let to this situation.

The only positive thing I can say about the story is that it is the standard Follett formula. Not quit the stature of "Eye of the needle" but better than the Follett wantobes . This is more like a Colombo episode in which we know the answer long before the characters and read to see how long it takes them to catch up with us. There are a few surprising details that pop up at the last minute. Do not look too close at real life dates and technology as many things do not match; however they do not distract from the story.

Mainly there are three elements that are intertwined through the story. One is the present (1958) where Luke has to figure out who he is and what he is doing on an urgent time schedule. The second is a detailed layman's description of how the first rockets were designed in 1958. The third is a story of a group that met in Harvard just before Pearl Harbor and went through the equivalent of the OSS together and where they ended up to the present day.

Try to find a copy of George Guidall's unabridged recorded reading as it adds a good dimension to the story and will keep you hooked to the end. I used up some predacious gasoline listing to this in the parking lot.

Once you start the story you will have to finish it. Then you may wish it did not finish so soon.
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He wakes up in the men's room at Union Station. He can not remember who he is or how he got there. One shocking look in the mirror tells him he is a bum however he can not believe it. Now he must find out who he is. Watch answer leads him in a different direction and we are intrigued to find more about what let to this situation.

The only positive thing I can say about the story is that it is the standard Follett formula. Not quit the stature of "Eye of the needle" but better than the Follett wantobes . This is more like a Colombo episode in which we know the answer long before the characters and read to see how long it takes them to catch up with us. There are a few surprising details that pop up at the last minute. Do not look too close at real life dates and technology as many things do not match; however they do not distract from the story.

Mainly there are three elements that are intertwined through the story. One is the present (1958) where Luke has to figure out who he is and what he is doing on an urgent time schedule. The second is a detailed layman's description of how the first rockets were designed in 1958. The third is a story of a group that met in Harvard just before Pearl Harbor and went through the equivalent of the OSS together and where they ended up to the present day.

Try to find a copy of George Guidall's unabridged recorded reading as it adds a good dimension to the story and will keep you hooked to the end. I used up some predacious gasoline listing to this in the parking lot.

Once you start the story you will have to finish it. Then you may wish it did not finish so soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2004
Although I am a Ken Follet aficionado and continue to unabashedly wave his banner "Best adventure thriller writer alive today" this was not his best work, nor his second best work, but it is a good, captivating page turner none-the-less.
The momentum builds in the first half but peters-out in the later half, like a roller coaster that almost reaches the pinnacle, but lacks the umph and falls a few feet short of the critical hump. Thus, predictably, this story, like the roller coaster, slides backwards the last part of the novel. The last half is predictable and a bit unsatisfying. If you are a Ken Follett fan then you may find "Code to Zero" lacking the violence, intrigue and exotic passion (zero zing) that most of Follet's spy thrillers have had (Key to Rebecca - Eye of the Needle - Lie down with Lions). That said, though this was not a one night, "burn the midnight oil" read, it was a story that I wanted to finish in two nights. "Code to Zero" is worth the purchase. Recommended.
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There's one great strength of Follett's that some reviewers here don't mention. How do you get any better than with this opening line: "He woke up scared?" Are you compelled to read on? I certainly was. By the end, I enjoyed "Code to Zero" far more than "Jackdaws" whose characters seemed over-the-wall, though true life is often stranger than fiction so his motley WWII gang of women and homosexual spies may have been more realistic than we would assume. The only thing that stretched my disbelief in this novel was the speed in which the hero and NASA scientist recovered his memory as the 'clues' unlocked his drug-induced blocks. The good news is it has inspired me to read more about this amnesiac condition to find out if it could be so easily bypassed. There is no doubt Follet's masterful story telling talents are as gripping as ever even when readers complain about his treatment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2004
Wow. I couldn't put this book down. When I read books like this, not only do I recall why I love to read, but I also remember why Follett's one of my favorite authors.
Once again, Follett uses a real setting and occurence from history and works his story around it. It gives the reader a better sense of immersion in the story as well as giving its characters a more beleivable air.
I don't want to spoil the plot, but it has elements of the Borne Identity in it so for fans of that movie/book, this would definetly capture their interest.
This ranks right up there with my other favorites from Follett: Night Over Water, Dangerous Fortune, A Place Called Freedom...all of which are very close to Pillars of the Earth (the pinnacle of great storytelling in my opinion).
FANTASTIC!
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on April 22, 2004
I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I have become a Ken Follett fan recently after reading Jackdaws and Pillars of the Earth. I had heard this was one of his worst books and so I was prepared to hate it. But in the end, it turned out to be a fun and fast-paced read. As Luke wakes up in Union Station in Washington, DC, he realizes he does not know who he is. On a quest to keep America in the space race, Luke also has to rediscover who he is and revisit old choices. There is nothing like being in need of help to find out who your true friends are. Read this book if you are looking for something fun and exciting. But don't expect a deep literary work.
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on February 4, 2004
This is, frankly, a terrible book. It's made more so by the fact that Follett has written great books before (Pillars of the Earth, for instance)...so what the heck is he doing here? It is, at best, a first draft for any novelist. The plot: contrived. The characters: unbelievable. The writing: tepid, sophomoric. Whoever was editing this should be taken to task as well; there are obvious repetitions of the plot (like "Pete's" reasons for looking up to Anthony getting explained at least twice) that should never have made it to print.
I'm reading alot of Elmore Leonard right now. While EL's stuff is crime fiction, not espionage fiction, it's the difference in writing that shouts out. Try reading Out of Sight or Ride the Rap, then take another look at Code to Zero...you'll be cringing within the first few pages.
Ken, you're too good a writer to be churning out garbage like this. Take your time and give us something worthy of your talent and time.
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