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  • Zero Day Code

  • End of Days, Book 1
  • By: John Birmingham
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (3,843 ratings)

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Zero Day Code cover art

Zero Day Code

By: John Birmingham
Narrated by: Rupert Degas
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Publisher's Summary

Every modern city has one week’s worth of food to feed itself. Then it will collapse. 

Cut off the resources to New York, Sydney, or even a mid-size metropolis, and millions will soon starve. In Zero Day Code we see those immense and open, hyper-complex, networked supercities of the new millennium die. And in the last moments we see their vengeance take form as all the best and worst traits of humanity bubble to the surface. 

Zero Day Code is set in a realistic near future with dwindling global food supplies under increasing pressure from worsening droughts, floods and extreme weather events. Written by prolific Australian writer John Birmingham, the thriller follows a handful of survivors from the first day of society’s descent into violent, uncertain futures. 

James, a consultant to the US National Security Council, is the first to suspect that the worldwide emergence of a crippling computer virus is actually a cover for something else - a devastating cyber-attack by China on the food distribution system of the United States. The attack is a bid for the Middle Kingdom to distract America as it seizes the food bowl of South East Asia and feeds its starving population. But Beijing has miscalculated.

Follow the missions of an embittered activist chasing salvation, a single mum rescuing her child from a frantic San Francisco and an army veteran who has long retreated from society, as the world they knew crumbles around them.  

Please note: this audiobook contains mature content and listener discretion is advised.

©2019 Audible Australia Pty Ltd. (P)2019 Audible Australia Pty Ltd.

What listeners say about Zero Day Code

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    5 out of 5 stars

Birmingham does it again

Another one knocked out of the park. I don't know what John Birmingham has against humanity, but he revels in destroying the world. And with this book, his latest effort, he delivers global mayhem and societal collapse through the eyes of the people caught up in the middle of it, and he does it with a real emotional punch. He's created characters that are believable and sympathetic - one of Birmingham's strengths.

With Zero Day Code Birmingham presents an idea that's both outrageous and entirely plausible. Frightening actually. He pulls at the loose threads of the fabric of our civilisation and, with a gentle tug, reveals how fragile it really is.

And Rupert Degas does an amazing job as the narrator - his Aussie accent is brilliant, cuss words and all. He brings this story to life. So much so I sat still for the whole 12 hours while I listened. Loved it.

Looking forward to the next in the series.

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Nobody can destroy the world like John Birmingham

John Birmingham keeps finding new and interesting ways to destroy the world, and lemme tell you, he’s really refining his technique. In Zero Day Code the world ends with a shudder, and no one realises... until it’s too late.

JB gives us an array of cleverly drawn but all too human heroes and villains in this great opening story to a longer saga of the world ending, but humanity having to survive the fall. Don’t hesitate, download this now!

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Still thinking about it two days later

Without doubt some of the best work from JB to date. The characters are (as usual) colourful without being caricatures. The technical aspects are (again, as usual) well researched and so well written that you dont even notice them. No CSI style exposition here, folks.

Dialogue feels natural and is genuinely engaging, even during the "slow" set pieces. The pacing is absolutely superb, with a ratcheting tension that begins immediately and refuses to let up for the whole journey.

The most impressive thing about ZDC, however, is the effortless way in which JB weaves his trademark wit into what is a genuinely chilling story.

All up, an absolute banger of a read.

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Horrible

Although intreaged by the plot I could not get past the first few chapters due to the offensive language and derogatory discriptions of women.

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An apocalypse just around the corner

I've been a John Birmingham fan for a long time. He's always thoroughly entertaining and with Zero Day Code he's raised the bar again. As the reviews roll in for this one, I'm guessing the word we'll see repeated a lot will be 'plausible'. The ideas and overall plot put forward just feels very real and like something that could happen today, right now.

Nothing that Birmingham lays out in this tale of the world in crisis feels in any way like it couldn't take place exactly as he describes it. There are no zombies, aliens or asteroids throwing the world into chaos, just the very real threat of what could happen when people get desperate and use our own technology against us.

Global threats aside, I also can't recall any novel I've ever read, or movie for that matter, that is so well hooked in to the way we communicate and consume information in the digital age. I'm not just talking Facebook and Twitter here, every mention of a social media platform or cloud based app or tool, no matter how obscure, has had me thinking John must have had big brother style cameras and snooping software watching my house and devices for the past few years.

What holds this story together though is the characters. John has always been great at giving you characters that you feel for and believe in, and with Zero Day Code he's raised the bar there as well. I can't help feeling these guys and girls will be sticking with me for a long time to come, like all great novel characters should. They all feel like real people I know, the good and the bad.

That predominantly comes down to Birmingham's storytelling skills, but Rupert Degas also does a fantastic job at not only narrating this story, but also giving every character, large or small, their own unique voice. Literally. That's quite as feat.

I can't wait for the next book in this series. I want to know what happens next for each and every one of these people and the wider world around them.

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Riveting - could not put it down

Still as good on 2nd listen (2021)

What a great modern political thriller reminescent of the original Tom Clancy novels - including a tongue in cheek acknowledgement as such. Very hard to put down and featuring great narration.

I will have to read more of John Birmingham now - his writing has changed a lot since 'falafel'....

Thank you so very much for this novel, it is like a breath of fresh air. This was a seriously good read and I really want more. Can't wait for the 3rd one to be written/ released.

I shall now start John Birmingham's Axis of Time series.....

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Bring on the sequel!

I haven’t read an apocalyptic novel for a while as got a bit down on them but this one had me completely absorbed, couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. Some kick ass characters and some good Aussie flavour to boot! To top it all off this narrator is sooo good I have gone and bought other books he has narrated already. Thanks for the weekend adventure can’t wait for the next instalment.

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Feels all too plausible...

Another fantastic bit of world building (and destroying) from JB. He does his usual great job of introducing a compelling group of characters to provide different viewpoints on the unfolding drama, as well as to make the events intimate and personal. This makes the cascading failures feel all too real, as you can easily put yourself in the characters' place.

The narration quickly becomes very immersive, making you feel part of the world that JB has created. Very easy to listen to, and nice differentiation between the different voices of each character.

Really looking forward to seeing how this plays out over future books. Feels like an epic in the making.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Some great classic Birmo moments, but feels incomplete

Birmo has written some great stuff over the years. He’s got a real talent for weaving disparate and developed characters through action packed moments in intense scenes, while at the same time really getting into some juicy geo-political commentary.
This more of that, but unfortunately it all comes to sudden and jarring halt.
I get that everything needs to be episodic for some reason these days, because money right? But this enjoyable box set feels like it’s missing the last two discs

The narration is generally good and has really clarity in the action bits but really falls down on the female characters, perhapslay off the higher pitches a little?
It was a great listen, but I really wish the ending wasn’t as jarring and unsatisfying as it is. Maybe hold off til the inevitable sequel is released?

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Tense and Believable

Great characters who, with one exception, you're generally rooting for.


It's horrifying in how you could see this really happening.


Well worth a read

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-07-2019

If Bernie Sanders’ wrote about the apocalypse...

Global warming, overpopulation and food shortages with out of control ICE agents as the bad guys attacking innocent lesbians. Not my cup of tea. He is a talented writer but his politics tend to seep into his stories.

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  • Oldy
  • 10-07-2019

Magnificent double-threat.

Full disclosure: I read the first draft chapter by chapter on JB's Patreon page. You should consider doing the same, it's absolutely worth every cent.

I grabbed this book on audible as soon as it came out. I've found audiobooks to be a mixed bag in the past, some have been fantastic, others not so. Much of this has to do with the voice talent, and Rupert Degas is wonderful. He commits to the material and performs it more than reads it - and his pronunciation is excellent, something that can take you out of the story if they get it wrong. The only problem is that Rupert now has to come over to my place and read every JB book to me from now on.

If you're a Birmo fan, then this is all the best things you love about Axis of Time, The Disappearance and Dave and the Monsters rolled into one. Great characters, tight, well-researched plot, a sprawling picture of the end of the world, told in vignettes all over the world, and in the main story through the eyes of eight or so expertly-drawn POV characters.

The story itself is a creeping horror, a slow-dawning and inevitable ending to everything we know - and it's relevant to today, right now. There are places in the world already experiencing the beginnings of this, and the despairing adult in me knows it's too late to turn away from the course we've set.

As always, the dialogue is brilliant. Even knowing what was coming I still laughed out loud at parts even funnier in the telling than the reading. Given the plot it's weird to laugh at parts, but man they're funny. And Damian "Damo" Moloney has to be the funniest character I've ever read, boisterously moreso when played by Rupert Degas.

I can't think of a better advertisement for Audible itself than this excellent book.

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  • Thomas Carter
  • 21-05-2021

Boring

If you hate the political right you’ll enjoy how the author portrays them as hate filled, irrational, worthless, and violent cave men.

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  • Phoenician
  • 27-10-2019

Entertaining World War 3 Novel

This isn't a post-apocalyptic novel, like with aliens or zombies. It's a World War 3 thriller seen from the various third person perspectives of several people from different walks of life - a wanna-be podcaster, a chef, a Dollar General cashier, a NSA analyst, others -- surrounding a cyber attack and the subsequent events that domino after it. It was very well done and the narrator did a terrific job voicing each character in a distinctive manner. This was one of the better audiobooks I've used a credit on this year.

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  • christopher johnson
  • 10-10-2019

Good and plausible end of civilization plot unlike some others.

The book use of government sponsored cyber attack and its setup was plausible and not over the top.

If you can get past the author’s bias that conservatives in America must be racist , stupid , sinister, gullible, and/or all of the above , it’s a good end of the society story.

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  • B Daigle
  • 02-07-2020

Missing the mark on the details

I love the stories that spring from Birmingham’s imagination. However, his attention to detail leaves a great deal to be desired. I read many of his earlier works with relish and enjoyment and remember thinking that his writing was well thought out and well researched. Those days seem to be over if this and some of his more recent works are to be the new benchmark.

I remember reading in one of his works an afterward where he thanked people who helped him with the details. He spoke of how much effort was put into finding out what color the carpet was in a particular hotel lobby in a certain year. It seems that ambition has left town.

Attention to detail is good and essential. When you hit a snag it is like a pothole on a road that is otherwise as smooth as a co-ed’s breast. It is not pleasant and it detracts from the story to say the least.

I appreciate that Mr. Birmingham is from Australia and this is from Audible Australia, but it is about Americans (mostly) in America (mostly). In America, Montana ranchers do not keep “biscuit” tins in their kitchens, they have a “cookie tin.” Americans do not buy “tinned food,” we buy “canned food.” I have never seen a Dollar General with a butcher’s section in the US. Americans use flashlights, not “torches.” The US Army phased out BDU’s a dozen years ago.

I’m sure that I would have a good bit of a hard time writing about the adventures of some group of mango hunters fighting off dingo packs in the koala infested Australian highlands. But I would try and get the details right or write about a different topic. Those few detailic errors made it crystal clear that this was simple fiction that would jar you back to reality rather than a good yarn that you can stay lost in and beg for more.

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  • Kevin
  • 27-12-2019

Sleeper Hit

Degas is great. Birmingham isn't. Excellent narration with some pretty lazy writing. I wouldn't really bother.

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  • Elizabeth Crawford
  • 27-07-2019

No equal in apocalyptic tales.

Birmingham has masterfully authored a riveting, paranoia-inducing narrative that follows current events to a sobering, logical conclusion. The events that unfold may be only as far away as the next news broadcast. I absolutely loved the breadth of characters and the attention to detail that brought each to life. An absolutely brilliant story.

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  • Danielle Creedon
  • 14-08-2021

Move on!

Long, drawn out & not very interesting. Add to that layers of racism, bigotry & sexism. Yuck.

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  • Thomas
  • 18-07-2019

Rollicking good fun!

Birmo can always be relied upon for an interesting, laugh out loud, action packed read. Rupert Degas has been able to elevate the whole shebang into something you won’t want to take out of your ears. The man has a million voices and you’ll forget it’s one person telling the story. Well worth a listen!

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  • Mark Regan
  • 09-07-2019

I am not even 1/4 through and...

I CANT GET ENOUGH.

the performance is heavyweight, as good as the story. It is like the story, writing and performance was specifically for me.

Smart, modern and entertaining AF!

Where has the performer and author been all me life, why am I only discovering them now? Nevermind, I'll seek answers once I'm done with this and everything these chaps have ever done.

Edit: I finished it, couldn't put this book down, everything I said I sand by and I really hope we get more.

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  • Mr. S. Martin
  • 23-04-2020

Loved the story, couldn't listen to the alt-right

I listened to the entirety of this book, and started the next because I really love the story and the majority of the characters. However one of the main characters who we see the world through is an alt-right bigot and in the end I had to stop listening as I found it too upsetting to hear his narrative. The book doesn't condone it as such, but it does present his views (racist, sexist, and homophobic) as he sees them, along with his justifications for them. I expect he gets his comeuppance in the end but having to listen to all that hate and bigotry in the first person was too distressing for me, so I never made it to the end...
TLDR: CONTENT WARNING: Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, sexual assault, unquestioned justification of bigotry.

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  • Andy Williams
  • 07-08-2019

You B*******ards One of the most gripping stories

How can i put this. I can't remember the last time i listened to a story all day for 2 days on the trot. Absolutely stunning.

The narration is off the charts, totally believable men and women all different and separate.

BE WARNED this is only half the story, it stops dead, "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this performance" Wha...? Oh come on, really, yep end of story.

You will not regret this purchase.

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  • Mikey D.
  • 14-08-2019

Amazing story that just kinda stops

Some really great characters, realistic plot and great atmosphere which is ruined when the author just kinda stops writing when it starts getting really good. I felt a bit cheated to be honest.

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  • J
  • 20-07-2019

Half of a great book...

I really enjoyed this. However I felt cheated at the end, because this book came to an abrupt end just when everything is just kicking off. It’s not a cliffhanger, it really is more like getting half way a through book to the point that you’ve been introduced to the world and the characters in it, then discovering the rest of the pages are blank.

The cynic in me might think that this is just in order to make you pay for the next book... let’s just hope it gets published otherwise I’ll never know what happened next!

Good performance from the narrator but marked down for stupid telephone voice sound effects. I really hate it when audiobook producers feel the need to chip in with either music or silly effects. That sort of thing always brings me back to reality.

All of that said I’ll be buying the next one as the story is engaging (and after all I need to know what actually happens...)

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  • A. Mitchell
  • 17-08-2019

Exciting book

Really enjoyed the multiple story lines. Hopefully there's a sequel as I'd like to know what happened to the characters - they were interesting and felt I knew them!

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  • rustyb
  • 01-08-2019

Very good, deserves a follow up

very good, maybe a little slow, improved throughput the story. Certainly deserves a follow up.

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  • Suetpud
  • 24-07-2019

A chilling tale, very much of our times.

Different to the other John Birmingham's I've read but equally riveting. A little too much modern-speak at the start but I guess that was to place it firmly in the now. I liked the author's way of conveying a microcosm of what was unfolding through the eyes of a few, very different, characters and I didn't want that to stop when it did. No prizes for guessing the madman who wreaks revenge at the end. A little too close to our darkest fears perhaps!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-2019

Excellent

One of the best I’ve listened too on audible. Story and narration are first class

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  • Fran Lawlor
  • 16-07-2019

Awful

Having listened to roughly 20 books so far this year, I can honestly say this was my worst purchase to date. After an hour I had to turn it off.
The narration is painful - the accents are comical at best.
I was on a roll for a while - book after book.
This has me taking a break for a while.

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