eBook Review: two series that are too much alike

As I've been reading a lot of eBooks lately, one thing I've noticed is that there are certainly themes in the type of eBook it seems popular to write and publish. "WHOA! I've got magical powers!" seems to be a popular one and there are not as many variants on it as I might like. There is "I'm a tough guy/ex-con/bad dude and WHOA! I've got magical powers!" There is "I'm a hot girl and WHOA! I've got magical powers!" Today I'm reviewing two different series but they are largely the same story (thus far) — their story? "I'm a petulant, angsty teen and WHOA! I've got magical powers!"

The first book (and series) I read in this space is B. Justin Shier's Zero Sight: Book 1. This is the story of Dieter Resnick, a kid from a post-recession Vegas that looks even bleaker than the real post-recession Vegas. Dieter is a pretty good student, hopes to get a scholarship and go to college but weird things start happening around him — like a bully's head explodes when he is picking on poor Dieter. Some folks take an abnormal interest in Dieter but he doesn't think much of it, is surprised to be offered a special scholarship from some far away special school that produces super successful kids. Off to school goes young Dieter, where he meets a bunch of kids, has usual teen experiences of distrust, dislike and lust, and is introduced to the ideas of magical powers and the politics of magical land. Unsurprisingly, over the course of the two books I've read — the second book in the series is Zero Sum — Dieter and his classmates become humanity's only hope and then they trash Bob Stupak's Vegas World.

The second series I read, and it is so similar to the first I felt I had to review them both in the same post, is The Central Series by Zachary Rawlins. Book one is The Academy where our teen protagonist Alex is attacked by werewolves, rescued by an "Operator" and then given an injection of nano machinery to activate his special magical powers. He is taken to a special school where the same general things that happen in the prior series repeat. Teen age introductions, learning about the politics and structure of the magical world, angst and eventually the kids have to save the world.

Both have interesting universes. The authors really do a good job of creating their own Harry Potter-esque worlds to story-tell in. Central is maybe for a bit more adult audience and Zero Sight is a bit more campy, super hero-y fun. As the Central series develops its physics are starting to remind me a bit of the Lev Grossman The Magician series. Zero Sight's sparse use of real world landmarks and history to fill out the universe was also fun and I enjoyed it as well.

If you have lots of time (and I spend a lot of time on planes) you could read both but I'd recommend just pick one series. Both Central series installments are .99 eBooks, The Academy and the Anathema. Maybe that'll make a difference for you. B. Justin Shier does offer DRM free copies of the Zero Sight books if you contact him.

The Zero Sight Series by B. Justin Shier
Zero Sight
Zero Sum

The Central Series by Zachary Rawlins
The Academy
The Anathema