The Zero and the One , by Ryan Ruby



Owen Whiting is a lone wolf at Oxford.


Having desperately tried – and failed every time- to make connections to his surrounding environment, he will finally find himself inexplicably drawn to the friendship of Zachary Foedern. Incredibly at ease with his environment and intelligent beyond measure, Zach, who has come for a year from New York, will form a strong friendship with Owen, opening his mind to concepts and ideas that he had never dreamed of. Owen will blindly follow his friend and idol, until Zach will propose his most peculiar and brutal idea of all : a suicide pact.


But, as the reader realizes very soon in this story, one of them is dead, but one of them is still alive. As the reader struggles to realize what has happened between the two of them, they will follow down a path that leads to more questions instead : what was the true reason behind the pact? Why would an intelligent and fierce character like Zach want to end his life at the young age of twenty one? And what happens to the ones that are left behind?

Life, philosophy and everything in between

Inspired on a large scale by Hans Abendroth’s aphorism, The Zero and The One is a story filled with philosophical questions, ones that can never be answered but burden the human mind nonetheless. Subjects such as the nature of human life, the purpose of living and the reasons behind suicide are raised ; sometimes subtly, through the story, and sometimes much more directly, through parts of Abendroth’s opinion in the beginning of the book’s chapters.

But as much as it is a story of philosophical questions, it is also a story of a strong friendship taking a dark turn, of secrets that can devour a soul from the inside, and of people wondering at what point, through their choices in life, they became the monsters of their own stories.

The Zero and The One was a carefully constructed work of literature, with a slow, but steady and utterly mind blowing escalation. It is easy to get absorbed in the story, especially the last forty pages, when the last stage of this drama is set before the reader’s eyes, and the answers to all their questions are finally answered.