Goodreads: 0.4 (Human.4, US title)
Series: Point 4 #1
Summary: While Kyle Straker and three others are hypnotized during their village’s annual talent show, something strange happens. When they wake up, everyone else is behaving differently, and none of their technology will work. Then, Kyle overhears someone calling him a 0.4. He and the others are determined to find out what is going on, whether they are all still hallucinating from the hypnotism, or whether aliens have actually managed to take over the world.
Told as a transcription of audio tapes recorded by Kyle after the events.
Review: 0.4 is an interesting exploration of what humanity actually is, and what it would mean if we were not what we always believed. It presents readers with a crazy alternate history and a wild possible future, in which humans suddenly seem not very human at all. Kyle and the other 0.4 must decide what future they think is best—before the rest of the world decides for them.
I did not feel a great emotional connection with the 0.4. I was, of course, sympathetic and on their side, but my investment was not personal. I cared about them mainly because they are human and because they are the underdogs. How Lancaster might have fixed this is not immediately clear. The book is intended to be plot-based. Kyle’s narration begins on the day that everything changes, and things get intense fast. Lancaster does not have much time to give detailed back stories (though he does throw a few details in), and events happen so quickly once they get going that the character do not exactly have time to bond. Basically everything happens in a day.
Lancaster does take time to pull on emotions later, but he wants readers to connect with the human race—and not Kyle and his friends in particular. The best science fiction often addresses what it means to be human and why it is important to retain humanity, and 0.4 is no exception. Lancaster could have delved a little more deeply on the topic, but he does a good job of at least introducing topics readers can ponder on their own.
0.4 has a lot of great characteristics—a fascinating and mysterious set-up with an exciting plot and interesting questions. However, what it has the most of is potential. Lancaster should have exploited his ideas and plot a lot more if he wanted to make this a great book instead of a good one.
(Also, the “editor” of the transcripts inserts some notes explaining some of the contemporary references Kyle makes, such as “reality television.” These notes are supposed to be funny and at times clever, but I never really found them so.)
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