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Code to Zero

Narrated by: George Guidall
Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
4 out of 5 stars (769 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

A man wakes to find himself lying on the ground in a railway station. He does not remember how he got there. He has forgotten where he lives. He cannot even remember his own name.

So begins Code to Zero, Ken Follett's explosive tale of intrigue, espionage, and conspiracy. It's January 1958, a dark hour in the cold war and the early dawn of the space race. At Cape Canaveral, a countdown has begun. On launch pad 26B sits Explorer I, America's best hope to match the Soviet Sputnik and regain the lead in the contest for the skies above.

As Luke Lucas starts to unravel the mystery of his amnesia, his desperate search leads him back to his Harvard friends: to his wife, to his best friend, to the woman he once loved more than life itself...and to the rocket that stands ready at the Cape. For Luke knew something that someone deliberately wanted him to forget, and unless he is able to discover his own deadly secret, he may be left powerless to save the launch of Explorer, and with it, America's future.

Don't miss Ken Follet discussing the history of the thriller and its role in literature at the 92nd Street Y.
©2000 Ken Follett (P)2000 Penguin Audiobooks and Recorded Books, Inc., LLC

Critic Reviews

"Great spy thriller material." (AudioFile)
"Suspense junkies won't be disappointed by Follett's man-on-the-run framework; tension courses through the book from start to finish." (Publishers Weekly)
"With dependable skill, Follett weaves the threads of his narrative together, tying them into an unexpected and story-resolving knot." (New York Times Book Review)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • Ortonville, MI, USA
  • 05-14-05

Code to Zero

After listening to Ken Follett's Hornet Flight (excellent), I had high expectations for Code to Zero.

Flashbacks--from WWII to 1958--and Flashtechs--from the story to 1958 vintage space technology--eventually merge into a somewhat coherent plot, but take far too long. The object of suspense should be how the story may turn, not whether the author is ever going to get his arms around it.

And the story?when it does come together?keeps being broken apart by consistency goofs. After beginning the story waking up in Washington with amnesia, dressed like a vagrant with no trace of his identity, the hero eventually traces his way back to his home--where he pulls a key out of the pocket of his stolen clothes and opens the door. The Ford Fiesta, one of which the hero steals in 1958, didn't start production until 1976. Time machines and self-replicating pocket replicators shouldn't be needed for a historical novel to work.

With good editing, Code to Zero could have become an engrossing yarn. However, it is simply too poorly crafted to approach that potential.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • allen, TX, USA
  • 11-01-05

Very enjoyable.

Though it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, and I felt the characters could have been a bit more developed, I still found this to be an entertaining and well written book. There were several plot twists that were an unexpected surprise, but for an espionage book, it was still a bit mild.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Alan
  • Roswell, GA, USA
  • 03-29-05

Not up to par

I like Ken Follett and just finished Hornet Flight, an excellent book! Code to Zero started off unbelievable and continued throughout. I don't want to give anything away but the obvious course of action from the beginning for one of the main characters becomes his obsession half way through the book. Skip this one unless it's the only Follett audio book you haven't heard yet.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Zero Gets An A!

Follet has written better books but none in which he ties up all the loose ends so satisfactorily. It's 1958 and he opens each chapter with an update on the status of an upcoming space venture. By the end of the story you are on pins and needles wondering if this massive undertaking will survive the cold war criminality kicking up dust. Some of the characters are a bit "cardboardish" and this results in an overall impact less than it could have been with Follet at his best. Still, for espionage and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Code to Zero scores a big red "A"

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • KF
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • 02-14-05

Very very good

This story grabbed my interest and held it from the outset. Characterizations were rich and believable. Suspense on every page, etc., etc. Truly one of the most engaging books I've listened to recently.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars


Follett allows the plot to sink into predictability. Since it becomes pretty obvious how the plot will unfold, the ending lacks suspense. Although a work of fiction, the impact of the story was weakened by Luke's quick recovery from amnesia, and the subsequent march of characters into the story without much background development. Not one of Follet's best, I read it through out of curiosity, to determine whether my ending was different from his.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The 2nd Time --- as good as the 1st !!

Reviewing my previous listened to books I have found that Ken Follett's was well worth a second read. The action, mystery, & suspense held my attention as it did a few years ago!!

Give it a try --- it will merit your time!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cheryl
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 08-22-09

Another excellent Follett book!

Found this book difficult to stop listening to.
I listen to audio books all the time while driving, before I go to bed, while doing tasks, relaxing. And this one was exciting that I wanted to just lay down and listen to!!!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


I enjoyed how Follett blend snippets of facts with flashbacks. The characters were brought to life especially Billy Josephson and Luke Lucas. The narrator did an excellent job of separating the characters with the changes in voice. Very Consistent. I was 8 years old when the satellite launch took place, so I recall parts of the news and studied the launch in school from our Weekly Reader.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

You have got to be kidding!

This book takes place in the 1950s. That didn't bother me, as I am of that generation. I even assumed it had been written in the early 1960s. The attitudes and ridiculously simplewriting style are clearly of that era. I could not believe it was actually written in 2000. Has the author been living in a cave since then? It was so simple minded that it was actually amusing. The plot is very weak, and the characters are unbelievable - even for that time period. The romance, so to speak, is passionless and trite. Save your time and money.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful