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Zero O’Clock


For sixteen-year-old Geth Montego, zero o’clock begins on March 11, 2020. By June, she wonders if it will ever end.

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$15.95 $11.96

What people are saying…

“The book focuses on a high school senior in New Rochelle, New York, whose preoccupation with college admissions, her father’s death and the K-pop group BTS becomes overshadowed by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Here & Now

Zero O’Clock is going to go down as one of the texts we will use in the future to make sense of this moment we’re in.”
Tonya Mosley, host, WBUR Here & Now

“This novel is undoubtedly relatable for a number of people, particularly teens/young adults during the early stages of the pandemic, and showcases just how artists like BTS and fandom can be a great comfort even during the darkest of times.”
The Honey POP

“Being back in the classroom may come with mixed feelings for young people as they navigate the post-pandemic life. One writer, C.J. Farley, captured those feelings in his new book Zero O’Clock which looks at the anxiety and challenges that the youth have endured due to COVID.”
—Pix11 Morning News

“For fiction with a sense of realism, this is a coming-of-age young adult book whose title is the same as that of a 2020 song by superstar boy band BTS, 00:00 (Zero O’Clock), with vocals by Jungkook, Jimin, Jin and V. Author C.J. Farley’s novel grapples with the stresses and trauma of 2020.”
South China Morning Post

“Remember when New Rochelle was frantically sanitizing office buildings and rapidly shutting things down in the beginning of 2020? Well, Geth remembers, as her character dealt with being a senior in high school in the first New York town COVID raged through in Zero O’Clock by Christopher John Farley.”
The Root

“Geth is a likable, smart Gen Z protagonist in this modern epistolary work that combines diary entries, text messages, news reports, emails, and English lit essays to immersive effect . . . Farley offers readers undeniable value in this retelling of recent, unforgettable history.”
Kirkus Reviews

“[Farley’s] brilliance is in getting into the mind of a 16-year-old Black girl and giving her a vivid voice.”

“Geth’s voice carries the novel through our unprecedented recent history as she navigates grief, anger, and her own mental illnesses of anxiety, depression, and OCD during the stay-at-home orders and rising pandemic death toll.”
School Library Journal

“An insightful, eye-opening, and inventive story. C.J. Farley has penned a novel that sheds an important light on real issues facing young people today.”
—Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give

Included in Publishers Weekly‘s Fall 2021 Announcements!

Zero O’Clock is a beautiful and timely YA novel that is both heartbreaking and whip smart, a glimpse into the world of virtual friendship, classrooms, and pop stardom.”
—Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, author of The Nine

“Thoughtful, provocative, and pounding with the fast-paced beat of a sharp-witted adolescent mind, Zero O’Clock is the story of a Jamaican-American teen girl at the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Rochelle, New York. C.J. Farley has created an irresistible heroine in Geth Montego. Simmering with justifiable anger at everything from the cancellation of her senior prom to racial injustices and police brutality, Geth manages to overcome grief, anxiety, and confusion to discover a new sense of herself and her ability to create change.”
—Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party

Zero O’Clock seems to have a direct line into the mindset of a modern teenager. I enjoyed it immensely!”
Alex Wheatle, author of Cane Warriors

Critical praise for Around Harvard Square:

“[A] smart, satirical novel about surviving the racial and cultural tensions ratcheted up in the elite Harvard hothouse. Farley has created a marvelously engaging and diverse set of characters, at the center of which is a nerdy Jamaican American with a philosophical bent and his cohort of oddballs struggling to win a spot on Harvard’s brainy humor magazine.”
National Book Review, included in Monday’s 5 Hot Books

“Wry, sly, and ferociously funny, Around Harvard Square is not just the satire Ivy League college life deserves, but the one it’s been waiting for.”
Marlon James, Man Booker Prize–winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

Around Harvard Square [is] C.J. Farley’s fun novel about an exceptional Jamaican student-athlete facing class and race issues to get a spot on an elite Harvard University humor magazine.”
New York Daily News

“Brimming with humor and heart, Around Harvard Square is a delight.”
—Andy Borowitz, creator of the New Yorker‘s “The Borowitz Report”

“This former [Harvard] Lampoon editor, journalist, and now satirical novelist, has lots of insight into the discrepancies around race and gender that remain present in the comedy industry.”
CityLine (ABC-TV, Boston)

“The first year of college can feel as dramatic as the first moon landing and somehow C.J. Farley also turns it into a painfully funny adventure. Around Harvard Square is a coming-of-age tale that blends J.D. Salinger’s rueful tones with Paul Beatty’s biting humor and becomes something entirely its own. I had so much fun running around with these kids, it felt like seeing old friends: laughing and crying and laughing some more.”
—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

“This coming-of-age novel, set in the ’90s, follows Jamaican-American Tosh Livingston and his group of friends—Lao, Meera, and Zippa—on their quest to land coveted spots on the staff of the Harvard Harpoon, Harvard’s humor magazine . . . The characters’ clever dialogue challenges privileged and stereotypical thinking.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this throwback coming-of-age novel, an ensemble of freshmen on the margins struggle for self-definition amid the race and class complexities of Harvard . . . Through the whirlwind of their journey, they begin to question the purpose of jokes and the consequences of laughter—when it’s not just about the joke, but also about who’s making it and why (a significant, timely exploration as comedy culture today struggles to demarcate ethical boundaries) . . . The diverse ensemble of core characters defy and refuse reductive stereotypes . . . For those who would like to take a trip through the hallowed Harvard halls of the past, this goes out to you . . .”
Kirkus Reviews

“Farley, a Harvard alumnus himself, pulls no punches in lampooning the elitist, entitled culture that pervades the campuses of schools like Harvard. Many of his jabs are painfully spot on, and I applaud his efforts to address the experiences of the non-white, non-wealthy, and incredibly smart students who find themselves dropped into that kind of toxic atmosphere every fall.”

“C.J. Farley’s Around Harvard Square is a witty and artful narrative of a society on the crossroads of change . . . A must read.”
The Gleaner (Jamaica)


Age level: 12+ | Grade level: 7 – 12+ | Lexile level: 820 | F&P level: Z+

Part of our Black Sheep imprint for young readers.

In early March 2020 in New Rochelle, New York, teenager Geth Montego is fumbling with the present and uncertain about her future. She only has three friends: her best friend Tovah, who’s been acting weird ever since they started applying to college; Diego, who she wants to ask to prom; and the K-pop band BTS, because the group always seems to be there for her when she needs them (at least in her head).

She could use some help now. Geth’s small city becomes one of the first COVID-19 containment zones in the US. As her community is upended by the virus and stirred up by the growing Black Lives Matter protests, Geth faces a choice and a question: Is she willing to risk everything to fight for her beliefs? And if so, what exactly does she believe in? C.J. Farley captures a moment in spring 2020 no teenager will ever forget. It sucks watching the world fall apart. But sometimes you have to start from zero.

Watch an interview with C.J. Farley on the TODAY Show.

Listen to interviews with C.J. Farley on WBUR/NPR’s Here & Now, Saturday Mornings with Joy Keys, But I Digress with Michael Hickins, and the Talk! with ARMY podcast.

Check out features on Zero O’Clock at Koreaboo, Bangtan Scholars, and The Honey POP.

Read guest pieces from C.J. Farley at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Watch interviews with C.J. Farley on Black News Tonight with Marc Lamont Hill, CNN New Day, and New York, NY’s PIX11 Morning News.

Check out a Zero O’Clock shout-out by Sharon Epperson on the TODAY Show with Hoda and Jenna!

Read a Q&A with C.J. Farley at Deborah Kalb Books.



Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 9/7/21
  • IBSN: 9781617759758
  • e-IBSN: 9781617759925
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • IBSN: 9781636140865


C.J. FARLEY was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lives in New Rochelle, NY. A graduate of Harvard University, Farley is the author of the acclaimed fantasy adventure novel Game World and the best-selling biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, which was adapted into a hit Lifetime movie. Farley’s young adult novel Around Harvard Square won an NAACP Image Award and was named a 2020 Honor Book by the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. His latest novel is Zero O’Clock.

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