Zero Zone

Counterpoint. Sept. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781640093737. $26. F
The art created by Jess Shepard has unexpected effects on some of its viewers; in one case, a man with some brain damage caused by a serious stroke finds his ability to dream restored after walking through a series of rooms she created, each lit with a single, bold color. Far from her L.A. studio, in another installation room built in the New Mexico desert with concrete blocks, cult leader Tanner seeks “to pass to the other side” to be in phase with another world. But this “Zero Zone” installation results in extreme violence and a police standoff, for which the tormented Jess feels responsible. A teenage girl named Isabella, who was involved in the incident, later seeks revenge by physically attacking Jess in an art gallery and vanishing. After promising Isabella’s parents that she will find her, Jess is led back to the Zero Zone for the story’s climax.
VERDICT After finishing this cinematic novel, some readers will be compelled to start again at page one to discover how O’Connor (A Perfect Universe) pieces together his suspenseful, incredibly well-written narrative and to contemplate the artworks described.
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