Revenge of the Zeds by Stewart Ross

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The Soterion has been opened, but does it mean salvation or devastation? A horrific mutation in human DNA has resulted in a world where no one lives beyond nineteen. Cyrus and the noble Constants have opened the Soterion vault containing the Long Dead’s secrets of science, art and possibly even the cure to the mutation. First, Cyrus must teach the Constants to read. But those he calls friends are falling prey to the greed and power knowledge can bring. Meanwhile, the barbaric Zeds are massing against them, determined to take the Soterion for themselves and destroy everything the Constants have built.
(Synopsis from

When I learnt that there was going to be a sequel to Stewart Ross's The Soterion Mission I knew right away that I needed to get my hands on a copy. Curious Fox kindly sent me a copy to review and I am so glad they did!

In my review for The Soterion Mission I spoke about the importance of the dystopian genre in Young Adult literature. I am a strong advocate for books that challenge and that present readers with situations that stimulate debate. 

Revenge of the Zeds does just that. And then some.

RoZ (as I will call it from now) not only carries on from Soterion in a narrative sense, it also builds on the questions the first book raised and introduces new, complex issues that give the plot depth. 

At the end of Soterion, Cyrus, with the aid of Roxanne, had managed to find the long lost Soterion. The Soterion held the knowledge of the Long Dead, something which Cyrus and his team thought would benefit each and every Constant. In their eyes they could finally overcome the Death Month and live beyond nineteen years of age, restoring humanity back to how it used to be. 

In RoZ Cyrus is living in the Alban Constant camp and is still convinced that the knowledge of the Long Dead is a valuable resource. However there are some in the camp who are unsure. There are people such as Bahm, who believe that the Constant ways do not need to change. Then there is Yash and Sakamir who, as the story progresses, begin to think of the Soterion as a basis for power.

It is the way in which Ross explores the dichotomy between knowledge and power that impressed me the most about RoZ. Whilst Soterion was based around the quest for knowledge and the exploration of a society split into two very distinct groups, RoZ introduces the idea that with knowledge comes power and explores the ways in which this can be both a positive and negative consequence. 

Another aspect of the story that interested me was Ross's use of female Zeds. I thought it was interesting that the female Zeds were represented as much more intellectual than the male Zeds. As the Grozny's Malika, Xansi seemed to be able to read situations and yield her power in ways that the male Zeds could not. Violence for the Grozny Zeds was not seen as just a sport but seen as a way of controlling others. It was interesting to see how Ross took the gender stereotype of male=power and switched it around, creating a group of female Zeds who I saw as more ruthless because of the way they conducted themselves. 

I enjoyed reading RoZ a lot more than Soterion. Whilst I thought that Soterion was good, RoZ seemed a lot more balanced and the progression of the plot flowed better. Ross manages to introduce some complex issues whilst still managing to give the reader an action packed, fast paced story with well written, three dimensional characters to boot. 

Whilst RoZ is probably not one for younger readers I believe that it would be a great book to choose for a student reading group or to use during lessons where ethics and morality are discussed. As I have previously stated Ross explores the idea that with knowledge comes power and the last quarter of RoZ showcases how this can affect people in extremely different ways. Whilst reading it I thought of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, a SciFi novel that also deals with the idea of knowledge and how gaining access to intellect one has not been privy to before can change a person. RoZ does a similar thing but opens it up to a community aspect instead of a personal one. 

RoZ poses the reader a question:
If you knew you had access to knowledge that could change the way civilization is structured forever, would you use it for the good of everyone or for your own personal gain?

Now we'd all like to think we'd choose the former but, like in RoZ, I think we'd be surprised at just how many people would actually choose the latter. 

If you are looking for a rip roaring read that gets you thinking then pick up Revenge of the Zeds. I promise you,  you won't be disappointed. 

My Rating 8/10

Revenge of the Zeds is published on 25th September 2014

I was sent Revenge of the Zeds by Curious FoxThey are an exciting imprint who publish great books for young readers ranging from age 8 up to 12+.