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Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee


by Fonda Lee

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1237152,104 (3.68)1
"As seventeen-year-old Carr 'the Raptor' Luka rises to fame in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, he learns a devastating secret that jeopardizes not only his future in the sport, but interplanetary relations"--



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Would you like an extremely quick breakdown of this book? I'll oblige. Zeroboxer is Rocky, in space. Oh yes, my friends. Complete with the craggy, but ultimately lovable coach, and all the related drama. That's not to say that this isn't a good book. I'm simply telling you exactly what to expect. This was most definitely a different kind of Science Fiction than I'm used to, and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it.

First off, credit where credit is due. The sport of zeroboxing is so well fleshed out in this story that it isn't even funny. You won't just be reading about Carr's matches, you'll live them. Fonda Lee has not only built a sport, she's built a sport that actually makes sense. I felt the tension, heard the cheers, and watched the blood float around in zero gravity. If nothing else, this book will get you for that very reason. It's hard not to be caught up with the sport, and everything that comes along with it.

Even the world itself is pretty solid, since it's essentially Toronto in the far flung future. Genetic enhancements are the norm. Tattoos are done with an animated liquid. Best of all, travel between Earth and Mars is something that's done often. The one downside here is that the reader is thrown directly into this future without a whole lot of hand holding. While I eventually found my footing, it took me a while to truly associate Carr's life with his futuristic home. If it wasn't for the references to zero gravity boxing, I'd have been much more lost.

Now here's where things get a bit hairy. First off, I wasn't always a huge fan of Carr Luka. Our main character felt a little too perfect. Thus, when things started to turn sour for him, I wasn't really empathetic. I actually wanted him to lose. If just once. It's no fun to root for someone who is nigh unbeatable. Nor is it easy to feel bad when they're injured. My other issue was with how casually the topic of people being genetically enhanced in the womb, and the fact that only bad parents didn't do that, was mentioned and then tossed aside. I understand this was part of the world building, but I needed more. That's a big subject to simply touch on.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with Zeroboxer. I'm not generally a big fan of sports related books or movies, but this one held my interest. The union between boxing and Sci Fi definitely made this a different read than I was expecting, and a rather happy surprise. ( )
1 vote roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Mixed martial arts in SPACE!! It seemed like it would be a fantastic premise. Carr Luka is a up and coming fighter in what is known as zeroboxing, or fighting in zero gravity environments. He gains the attention of a marketing firm/promoter and ends up losing his heart to someone special. But while he is busy trying to sort out his feelings and fighting to win, Luka stumbles into a grander scheme that could have devastating consequences. Or something.
The concept sounded interesting. I'm not into MMA but did train in martial arts as a child. The author is also a martial artist so it seemed like it could be an interesting concept. And I wanted to add more science fiction into my reading lists anyway.
But it just did not work. The book is slow. The fights are not something that interested me at all. Luka's not exactly a compelling (or interesting) hero, although he has some nice touches. Not only is he a fighter but he puts up with (in a Big Brother sort of way) with a young fan which I found very sweet. It gave him a bit more dimension instead of being a cardboard fighter. The romance was also not exactly interesting (that it was on the summary made it all the more predictable).
The idea was fun but the execution was tedious. Luckily I bought it as a bargain book since it wasn't available at the library. Would have preferred to borrow it and would recommend that as the best way to read it if you're interested.
  ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
MMA on the moon. Zeroboxing is a martial sport, but Carr Luka is one of the best from earth. This book follows Carr on his pro journey and his evolution to being the face of the sport and an inter-galactic superstar. Along the way he falls for his brand manager and discovers that he possess a secret that may impact the future of his career. There is a lot of action and fighting. An inventive scifi read. ( )
  ewyatt | Apr 23, 2017 |
This is a 2015 Andre Norton Award Finalist. I read it as part of the Nebula reading packet.

Lee has created a fascinating science fiction young adult novel in Zeroboxer. Carr is a teenage prodigy, a boy from Earth who busts into the world of weightless boxing. Tensions between Earth and Mars are high; poverty is rife on the homeworld where children are still often made by traditional means, whereas Mars has genetically engineered its population for survival and success. Carr's growing popularity becomes a source of fixation for suffering, angry people, and that causes a fantastic escalation in tension as the book continues--especially when Carr realizes he carries a terrible secret.

I really appreciate that Carr is a genuinely good guy and sportsman. He works hard for his success. The one sport I follow is hockey, and real boxing turns me off, but I was completely gripped by Lee's descriptions of zeroboxing and I couldn't help but cheer for Carr. Along with that, I must note that the plot is somewhat predictable in the way of a sports story... but this didn't detract from my enjoyment. There were still plenty of twists and turns. I was surprised at how the book ended, too. For a second, I was dismayed, but then I realized that Lee ended the story in exactly the right spot. ( )
  ladycato | Mar 6, 2016 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Gravity-defying solar sports contests and a life altering secret.

Opening Sentence: Carr Luka woke from a nap three hours before his fight.

The Review:

I am not a fan of any kind of sport, whether it’s football, basketball or golf, and although this book is based on a sport called ‘zeroboxing’ it had me hooked. Zeroboxing isn’t any sport you’ve heard of before, it’s an inter-planet sport that is like boxing but without gravity! This story is set on Valtego; which is best described as a sort of space-station in between Earth and Mars. I was fascinated by the concept of a gravity-defying sport that’s played on multiple planets.

Blake shook his head. “You’ve never been to that place, Carr.” Was it a good or bad sign that he was weirdly at ease, his eyes distant? “Where you know you can’t win…but you can decide not to lose.”

Carr Luka is training as a professional zeroboxer and despite his young age, he’s racing his way to the top. Life seems to be perfect for Carr; he’s excelling in his career, has a lovely girlfriend and just landed a solid contract with The Martian. Just as his dreams are coming true he learns a secret that shatters his self-pride and could cost him everything: his career, the love of his life and his dream.

Carr drank in the sight, letting its sweet flavour infuse his euphoria. Victory was a better high than a hundred bliss bombs. Perfect and real, lasting for days, even weeks, before being polished and stored in its own special nook of his soul, each win in his collection unique and everlasting, wanting nothing except more neighbours.

I loved the way this story is written: the author’s descriptions of Carr’s feelings, the fights themselves, how the planet’s look. It was all described brilliantly. Sometimes you can read the perfect storyline but the writing will let you down but in this case, even the dullest of events are depicted excellently.

Now he was on the up again. Attention could be good or bad, he decided, but it didn’t really matter. “Fighting isn’t a popularity contest,” he said.

Onto Carr himself; he’s an excellent protagonist: kind, hardworking and most of all, determined to succeed. The secret he uncovers devastates him (no spoilers), mainly because Carr has worked tirelessly to win and he’s so proud of this so it’s unfair to see how quickly one truth could take it all away! This could destroy not only his life, but of those he holds dear.

“You were perfect.”
“What do you mean? I didn’t do anything.”
“You looked confident, you paid attention, you were serious, but funny, and you didn’t act like a prima donna or a jerk. You have no idea how rare that is, for a sports celebrity?”

Once Carr learns of the truth, he struggles with what he should do. He’s come too far to go back but the guilt is eating him away. Can he give up his life’s work or will he continue to live in fear? Whatever the decision, everything as he knows it has changed…

This is a fantastic read and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it and I hope you give it a chance too!

Notable Scene:

A shudder of distaste ran through Carr, along with a strange and immense fatigue. Why was all this happening to him? There was a time, not that long ago, when things were a lot simpler. When he knew who he was, and what he wanted, and the world seemed like the sort of place that would reward him if he worked hard enough, and each step he took went forward, toward something better.

FTC Advisory: Flux provided me with a copy of Zeroboxer. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Feb 23, 2016 |
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