Camp Zero: A Novel (Hardcover)
Billie Anna's April 2023 pick (2 of 2)
North America, 2049. Temperatures are sky high, storms and natural disasters rage, and every citizen is implanted at birth with a “Flick”- a computer that gives them access to information and entertainment 24/7. The poor and marginalized live precariously on the relentlessly buffeted mainland while the powerful and wealthy float in protected off-shore cities that cater to their every whim. Rose, a high-society escort; Grant, a disenchanted heir to wealth; and the all-female team of White Alice slowly converge on one another in the frigid North of Canada. Each has their secrets, and all of them are devastating.
Michelle Min Sterling has crafted a horrifically realistic picture of our future, laced with poignant commentary on gender, race, and privilege. It reads almost like a thriller, with danger and intrigue at every turn. This book was riveting, chilling, and yet, hopeful.— From Billie Anna
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
In a near-future northern settlement, the fates of a young woman, a professor, and a mysterious collective of researchers collide in this mesmerizing and transportive debut that “delivers its big ideas with suspense, endlessly surprising twists, and abundant heart” (Jessamine Chan, New York Times bestselling author).
In remote northern Canada, a team led by a visionary American architect is breaking ground on a building project called Camp Zero, intended to be the beginning of a new way of life. A clever and determined young woman code-named Rose is offered a chance to join the Blooms, a group hired to entertain the men in camp—but her real mission is to secretly monitor the mercurial architect in charge. In return, she’ll receive a home for her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother and herself.
Rose quickly secures the trust of her target, only to discover that everyone has a hidden agenda, and nothing is as it seems. Through skillfully braided perspectives, including those of a young professor longing to escape his wealthy family and an all-woman military research unit struggling for survival at a climate station, the fate of Camp Zero’s inhabitants reaches a stunning crescendo.
Atmospheric, fiercely original, and utterly gripping, Camp Zero is an electrifying page-turner and a masterful exploration of who and what will survive in a warming world, and how falling in love and building community can be the most daring acts of all.
About the Author
Michelle Min Sterling was born in British Columbia, Canada, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She teaches literature and writing at Berklee College of Music, and has held fellowships at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her writing has appeared in The Baffler and Joyland. Camp Zero is her first novel.
“[A] stunning debut . . . Sterling’s future is close enough to the present to be entirely recognizable, underlining this cleverly constructed climate fiction mystery with palpable terror: this world feels like one many readers could see within their lifetimes. This should earn a place on shelves alongside Station Eleven and Annihilation.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Sterling vividly renders a harrowing near-future world ravaged by climate change while still offering hope through human connection and perseverance.” —Booklist
“Brilliantly unsettling…Camp Zero is compelling dystopian cli-fi with three-dimensional characters—a perfect read for fans of Station Eleven, To Paradise, and The Handmaid's Tale. The ending leaves the way open for a sequel. Bring it on.”—Shelf Awareness
“A gripping story about survival, with compelling characters and frightening plot twists that will keep you riveted.”—Real Simple
“A smart setup . . . The book has a soul that generates momentum. It’s committed to the bonds of family, the ones we are born into and the ones we choose, as a way forward in an increasingly chaotic world. A love letter to what communities of women can accomplish when they work in concert.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Camp Zero is the thrilling, urgent feminist climate fiction that the world needs. With extraordinary world-building, captivating characters, and sharp commentary on climate change, technology, colonialism, capitalism, and the patriarchy, Michelle Min Sterling’s remarkable debut delivers its big ideas with suspense, endlessly surprising twists, and abundant heart.” —JESSAMINE CHAN, New York Times bestselling author of The School for Good Mothers
“Camp Zero is a sui generis novel, boldly imagined, intricately designed, and convincingly detailed. Though set in the near future, it resonates with a palpable sense of reality and with the deep insights into some dimensions of the human condition, such as migrations, the burden of the past, environmental destruction, gender inequality, self-recreation. Page by page, the prose shines with subtle verbal artistry. This is groundbreaking literary work.” —HA JIN, National Book Award-winning author of Waiting
“In an equally tantalizing and terrifying tour de force, Michelle Min Sterling boldly remixes the realities of our present world, the danger we are in, and the fates we have settled for through a mesmerizing story of loyalty, deception, and ultimately love. Camp Zero’s dark twists and bright turns left me breathless, hopeful, furious, and emboldened until the very end.” —NANCY JOOYOUN KIM, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee
“Michelle Min Sterling reports back from the future in this fiercely imagined conjuring of the devastating impacts of our warming world. Alternately terrifying and enthralling, this is a propulsive read with touches of Blade Runner, even Fury Road’s survival-is-everything pace and intensity where female strength is on delightful display. But even on its darkest pages, Camp Zero is infused with the conviction that the way out—if there is one—lies in old ideas like love, bravery, and shared community.” —ERICA FERENCIK, author of Girl In Ice and The River at Night
“An exhilarating tale of survival set in a world of environmental decline, Camp Zero explores a future brimming with equal parts rage and resilience. Sterling’s masterful debut transports readers to a frozen landscape where the intersections of class, gender, and climate change come to a head—and where women must rely on their own cunning to survive. This powerful, prescient story will haunt the reader’s imagination long after the final page.” —LAURA MAYLENE WALTER, author of Body of Stars
“The future Michelle Min Sterling imagines in Camp Zero is recognizably our own, if we do nothing to halt climate change: one in which the powerful find new and devastating ways to exploit both the earth and its people. But all is not as it seems. In a series of ingenious twists and increasingly tight connections, Sterling imagines how, in the chaos that ensues after the ice caps melt, our most marginalized brethren may gain a foothold to power. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time: it’s mesmerizing, terrifying, and ultimately, hopeful.” —CAROLINE WOODS, author of The Lunar Housewife
“Michelle Min Sterling has written a big, gutsy, and clear-eyed novel of the near future that neither lurches with dread nor swoons with false hope: it's a cold, hungry adventure story about the power of choice and the strength of solidarity. You won't be able to put it down.” —SEAN MICHAELS, Giller Prize-winning author of Us Conductors