Smalltown TV anchorwoman Amy Spencer and grocery stockboy Brian Tyler have one thing in common in Peter Maize’s novel Zoom Out. Both are bored with their mundane lives, aspiring for something better. Odd that those aspirations take them both East: Spencer to a seemingly dead-end broadcasting job in Hong Kong; Tyler to backpacking and doing funny drugs in Asia.
Maize spends too much time focusing on the curiosities of southern Chinese culture, like locals standing on toilet seats and the inscrutability of Asian bosses, too little real insight on how Eastern and Western cultures swirl in a cauldron like Hong Kong. The novel picks up when a mysterious storyteller comes onto the scene, and Spencer finds herself in the middle of student protests in Tiananmen Square.