All On Zero – Argiro Mantoglou
More often than not, a casino story will tell the tale of a man, gambling everything he has and risking it all before becoming the hero at the end of the book. With “All On Zero” this is not the case at all- mainly due to the fact that the main character is actually a female, Dawn.
The story follows the life of aspiring novelist Dawn, who has a mid-life crisis shortly before her thirty sixth birthday. On a whim she packs up her bags and leaves behind the life she has spent so long building for herself, moving from London to Greece so that she might write- and finish- her first novel. But what she finds in Greece is a lot bigger than story inspiration…
Visiting a casino one night, Dawn finds herself face to face with handsome croupier, Stavros. It’s cliche to find a new romance, especially with a man named Stavros, but she can’t help herself and falls head over heels for him- as does he for her. To Dawn, in this new life, everything seems possible. New love, new dreams, new inspiration for her book. Yet something’s not quite right.
Neither Stavros or Dawn can be true to each other, and whilst neither of them are particularly lying, both are hiding their true identities behind a thick fog of secrets. Using the only way they know how to break each other down, they gamble on each other’s secrets, eager to know more about each other but to give less away about themselves. The stakes are high but are either of them ready to risk everything they know for the biggest win of them all?
This book is certainly unique in the fact that it focuses on a woman with a severe gambling addiction, playing over and over in the hopes that it will keep her life from falling apart. You are in constant wonder at what secrets it is the pair are hiding from each other, and with each new reveal you feel like you too are learning more about the characters, as though they are old friends. The balance of the characters power is ever shifting, making for an interesting narration. Both want to win and are trying to overpower each other, yet simultaneously they are lovers and don’t want to hurt each other. With an intense plot, and a wonderful twist, this book is impossible to put down.