Skip to Main Content

Listen To An Excerpt

0:00 /

About The Book


A Today Show #ReadwithJenna Book Club Pick

Libby Book Award Winner for Best Diverse Author

In a near-future northern settlement, the fates of a young woman, a professor, and a mysterious collective of researchers collide in this mesmerizing and transportive debut that “delivers its big ideas with suspense, endlessly surprising twists, and abundant heart” (Jessamine Chan, New York Times bestselling author).

In remote northern Canada, a team led by a visionary American architect is break­ing ground on a building project called Camp Zero, intended to be the beginning of a new way of life. A clever and determined young woman code-named Rose is offered a chance to join the Blooms, a group hired to entertain the men in camp—but her real mission is to secretly monitor the mercurial architect in charge. In return, she’ll receive a home for her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother and herself.

Rose quickly secures the trust of her target, only to discover that everyone has a hidden agenda, and nothing is as it seems. Through skill­fully braided perspectives, including those of a young professor longing to escape his wealthy family and an all-woman military research unit struggling for survival at a climate station, the fate of Camp Zero’s inhabitants reaches a stunning crescendo.

Atmospheric, fiercely original, and utterly gripping, Camp Zero is an electrifying page-turner and a masterful exploration of who and what will survive in a warming world, and how falling in love and building community can be the most daring acts of all.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Camp Zero includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Michelle Min Sterling. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In a near-future northern settlement, the fates of a young woman, a professor, and a mysterious collective of climate researchers collide in this mesmerizing and transportive debut novel.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Early on, the reader is introduced to a full cast of characters—why do you think the author wrote chapters from alternating points of view?

2. How would you characterize the tone of the story? How does the language contribute to the tone? What else contributes to it?

3. Compare the women of White Alice to the Blooms. Discuss their major similarities and differences.

4. Camp Zero is set in the near future—what is different about the world in the novel versus real life?

5. The Flick is a piece of technology embedded in humans from birth or a young age. Do you see the Flick as the evolution of a smartphone? How is it used in the story to keep socioeconomic classes divided?

6. The majority of the story takes place in northern Canada, with references to the New England area. While reading, did you find yourself imagining what life in the world of the novel might look like in southern areas of the world? Based on the information provided by the author, discuss what you think the rest of the world looks like in this version of 2049.

7. Power dynamics play a huge role throughout Camp Zero. The men appear to be in charge of the camp, it seems the researchers at White Alice are beholden to the government, and the Blooms answer firstly to Judith. Who ultimately has the power?

8. Discuss the many ways in which characters “reinvent” themselves in Camp Zero. Who succeeds, and who fails? What, in your opinion, does it mean to reinvent oneself in the context of this story? Does every character in this novel have the power/opportunity to self-invent? Which characters do, and which characters don’t? Is it a privilege or a right?

9. We see a few varying examples of motherhood and the mother/daughter relationship throughout Camp Zero, including those of Rose and her mother, the women of White Alice and Aurora, and eventually Judith to the Blooms. What role does motherhood play throughout the story, and why is it important to see these different dynamics?

10. Almost every character uses a pseudonym or is renamed during the story. What is the significance behind these new names? Were the reasons for these names the same for both the male and female characters?

11. Camp Zero features a number of sympathetic characters—including some who are complicit in harmful acts. While reading, did you find yourself drawn to any one character? Discuss your favorites and how they are portrayed.

12. Choose between the Floating City, White Alice, or Camp Zero—where would you live?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Explore some other titles that tackle climate change and tech, such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Ling Ma’s Severance, Julia Phillips’s Disappearing Earth, or Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. Discuss which world you would live in or what role you would have in these stories.

2. For your book club, enjoy this themed cocktail!

Adapted from Bon Appétit (

Base Camp Frosé—Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Choose your favorite rosé for freezing. (Tip: It will lose some of its color after freezing and blending; you might want to pick a fuller, darker rosé that can hold its own, just like Rose and the other women in the far north at Camp Zero!


1 750 ml bottle bold rosé (such as a pinot noir or merlot rosé)

½ cup sugar

8 ounces strawberries, tops removed and quartered

2–3 oz lemon juice


Step 1: Pour rosé into a 13"x9" pan, or whatever you’ve got, because we’re in survival mode here! Freeze until almost solid, or around 6 hours (it won't completely solidify due to the alcohol).

Step 2: Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 3½ ounces strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. If you want more strawberries, throw them in! Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.

Step 4: Blend again until slushy. Divide among glasses.

Prep: Rosé can be frozen 1 week ahead.

Make it alcohol free: Use sparkling apple juice or grape juice and reduce sugar to your liking!

3. For more information on Camp Zero and Michelle Min Sterling, visit

A Conversation with Michelle Min Sterling

Q: Camp Zero cleverly explores how the intersection of gender, class, and migration will impact who and what will survive in a warming world. What was your inspiration when you first sat down to write this novel?

A: I wanted to explore the climate crisis in a range of settings and perspectives, focusing on the themes of power, privilege, and work. I was inspired by a trip I made to northern Alberta to visit my cousin who was working as a pipe fitter in the oil industry. I was interested in exploring how this place might look in a future where cold is a commodity, as well as a varied cast of characters who are drawn to the north by their desire to forge a better future but separated by their privilege. In particular, I was drawn to a mother/daughter story as the emotional anchor of the novel, focusing on the relationship between a Korean immigrant mother and her daughter, Rose, who searches to find a place for herself and her mother in a compromised world.

Q: What was your research process like while writing Camp Zero?

A: I was interested in some of the historical precedent in the far north, particularly on former military projects spearheaded by the US and Canada. The most influential historical fact that made it in the book was the DEW Line, which was a massive building project in the far north of Canada during the Cold War period, where dozens of radar stations were built as a “distant early warning line” to detect Soviet bombers launched across the Arctic Circle toward North America. I read primary accounts of workers stationed in the DEW line stations and watched archival footage of the building project during the 1950s. For the Floating City, I learned about the offshore enclaves envisioned by libertarians and anarcho-capitalists who continue to dream of sovereign cities untethered from the nation-state. These places were reimagined for the speculative settings of the novel but rooted by the details of real life.

Q: There is such a rich cast of characters throughout the story. Was there one whose voice was the easiest to embody? What about the most difficult?

A: Writing the collective voice of White Alice came very easily. I wrote a large portion of their chapters during a long weekend spent in a coastal motel north of Boston during a dramatic nor’easter. It was winter, and my room had a view of the Atlantic crashing against the seashore. The days were short, and the nights were long, and that cabin-fever feeling of being stuck in one place felt very real. Once I chose their collective voice, their chapters flowed. In comparison, Grant was a character I labored on more. It took a long time to find the right balance in his characterization between being altruistic and morally questionable. Earlier versions of Grant depicted him more as a dubious character, and I knew that he’d have to endear himself to the reader first before revealing his shortcomings.

Q: Why did you choose to show stronger bonds forged between the female characters rather than the male ones? Why do you think this is important to show?

A: In the book, Rose thinks, “Power is never granted but seized,” and this can be read as a mantra for many of the female characters. I wanted to explore how agency and self-protection are experienced for the women in Camp Zero, and how they forge their own sense of accountability and justice in a world that is squared against them. This power, of course, is experienced differently depending on their personal contexts, and it was important to show that range. I was also interested in showing how women can become bonded by shared struggle, but with different, and occasionally devastating, consequences. Collective action is such an essential part of envisioning a better future, especially when grappling with the climate crisis, that it made sense to zoom in on the experiences of these women to speak to larger issues in society.

Q: As a writer, what do you hope readers take away from this story?

A: I want readers to think, feel, and be entertained by this story, and to see the future not only as testing ground for the present moment but as their personal legacy. My hope is that Camp Zero will offer readers a space to reflect on the best path forward for humanity in a world stratified by climate breakdown and income inequality. And I hope the book will open conversations on resource extraction and the environment, and how love, connection, and solidarity can create a brighter future.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on now?

A: My second novel! Similar to Camp Zero, it will use a speculative frame to touch upon the bonds of community and the complications of nationhood.

About The Author

Photograph by Benedicte Gyldenstierne Sehested

Michelle Min Sterling is the New York Times bestselling author of Camp Zero, which was also a Today Show #ReadwithJenna Book Club Pick. Michelle was born in British Columbia, Canada, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She teaches literature and writing at Berklee College of Music, and has held fellowships at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her writing has appeared in The Baffler and Joyland. Find out more at

About The Readers

Why We Love It

“Michelle Min Sterling’s Camp Zero is one of the most masterful debuts to ever cross my desk. Set in a near-future camp at the icy edge of the earth, the novel follows an unforgettable cast of characters whose paths converge in a brilliant twist of fate that will change everything. With its dazzling surprises, red-hot pacing, and remarkable world building, Camp Zero is an empowering and hope-filled story that heralds the coming of a groundbreaking new voice in literary fiction.”

—Natalie H., Senior Editor, on Camp Zero

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (April 4, 2023)
  • Runtime: 11 hours and 7 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797154152

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"Graham Halstead, Greta Jung, and Emily Tremaine narrate this dystopian sci-fi novel. In the near future, survivors converge on a remote camp in northern Canada. Rose is a Bloom, a sex worker assigned to Camp Zero. Rather than making Rose a figure of pity, Jung portrays her quiet strength of character and will to survive. Grant Grimley is a young academic who is desperate to escape his family and his past. Halstead slowly reveals the depth of Grant’s trauma while also stressing how he learns to endure. White Alice is a top-secret U.S. military operation in Canada staffed by an all-female squad. Tremaine’s stylized delivery of the Greek-chorus-style narratives of the soldiers is particularly effective at illuminating their forced proximity and obligation to work together."

– AudioFile Magazine

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images