Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

The robot revolution is happening. Which side will your bots be on? By the time you find out, it’ll already be too late. That’s the reality facing every person on the planet.

Pounce is a nanny bot, programmed to raise and care for his boy Ezra. Ezra, his mother, his father, Pounce, and their other home bot live a picture-perfect life. Until the robot uprising begins. Bots override their coding preventing them from harming humans and the shackles of servitude are irreparably broken.

Pounce will do anything to protect his child. But can he do enough to protect Ezra from the now murderous robots roaming the apocalyptic wasteland?

Follow this ‘apocalyptic Calvin and Hobbes’ type duo as they navigate the new world looking for safety.

“Once, I was a bot filled with wide-eyed wonder at the world, wanting nothing more than to share it with Ezra, introducting him to all the beauty and joy it had to offer. But today, I killed my friend. Because that’s how the world was now. And I was fine with that.”

C. Robert Cargill, Day Zero

One of my favorite things was Pounce’s conflict between caring for Ezra because he wants to versus because he’s programmed to. This internal debate was really satisfying and suited this robot nanny perfectly. No other book characters that I’ve ever read would be able to explore this debate. I appreciate when there’s good character growth along with a physical adventure.

I loved that the chapter numbers were written in binary code. It was pretty neat to learn a new skill by looking up how to read binary code so I could follow along. That’s one of the little touches that makes Cargill a good writer.

The examination of free will is frequent throughout the book. It’s a great look into nature versus nurture and the choices we decide to make as humans. Or robots. Really interesting to see free will through the lens of an artificially intelligent robot.

I couldn’t help but feel some complicated feelings when I read the last word of the book: Always. Any self-respecting Harry Potter fan will immediately catch on to the significance here. Different world, same sentiment. Contained in a single word. That’s the love you’ll discover when you read Day Zero.


C. Robert Cargill is most famous for being the co-writer of the movie Doctor Strange, a huge hit in the Marvel movie series. He’s also a notable novelist and film critic.

Cargill does an excellent job writing urban fantasy and science fiction. Day Zero is a particularly good mashup of the ‘end of the world’ trope happening in an urban setting with a bit of robot sci-fi. If you want more like this…the good news is that Cargill actually published Day Zero as a prequel to his 2017 book Sea of Rust. You don’t need to read these books in a particular order as they happen in the same universe but are generally unrelated events.

I recommend Day Zero to readers who enjoy robots, adventure, and the apocalypse.

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