'My name is Kyle Straker. And I don't exist anymore.'
Hi. My name is Laura and I am a bookaholic. It's a serious addiction which means I cannot walk past a "Buy One Get One Free" book offer. If I try to resist such offers, I start to twitch. I break out into a cold sweat and my thumbs start to flick through intangible pages. The only cure is indulging my fetish and buying more books. I know. What a terrible condition to suffer from, eh?
So that is how I came across "0.4". I was in Tesco, buying sugary treats for my writers' club, when I saw the most beautiful stickers in the world, adorning all the books on the YA shelves. Buy One Get One Free. *Happy sigh*
After browsing for far too long, I chose Divergent, by Veronica Roth (I haven't read it yet, but as soon as I do, I'll let you know my review-shaped-thoughts), and 0.4, by Mike Lancaster. I had a whole two hours to kill before starting work so I proceeded to Maccie D's, bought a coffee and parked up in a quiet spot to enjoy some peace. Within those two hours, I read through the entirety of Lancaster's book. It's a quick and easy read, but pretty damned good, nonetheless.
I've always been a fan of dystopian fiction, and the book's Huxley-esque tagline, "It's a brave new world", appealed to me. Furthermore, I'm a classic horror fanatic and I love a good yarn about body-snatchers! This book combines these two loves and adds in a few lovely little twists, keeping it fresh.
"My name is Kyle Straker. And I don't exist anymore." So begins the story of Kyle Straker. He records his story over old Dire Straits cassettes and the use of this analogue technology is important to the tale. The story takes up four tapes, so it was never going to be an epic tale, but within those for transcribed sides is the story of how humanity changes forever.
It's hard to say much about this book without giving too much away, and I really don't want to ruin the twist for you. So I'll just say a few things.
The book is set out to be a historical document. As such, there are addendums and footnotes from a future civilization of humanity which add to the strangeness of the text. These little notes also emphasise the idea that humanity has forgotten so much of what it once treasured. (The note on the Teletubbies: a "pantheon of gods, exclusively worshiped by children (sic)" was hilarious).
The conflict of the story erupts when Kyle and three of his acquaintances are hypnotised during their village fayre. When they regain consciousness, these four individuals are confronted by the realisation that everyone they have ever known and loved is suddenly not...quite...right.
I expected a tale of "pod people" and "body-snatchers" to ensue, but 0.4 thinks outside that box. It looks at the idea of technological and human advancement in a way which I found intriguing.
I'm going to give away too much if I go on, so I shall wrap things up. I really enjoyed this quick and entertaining read. While it may be short, there is depth to the story which adds to its charm. Furthermore, the devices used by Lancaster are wonderfully and wittily employed. I would particularly recommend this book to any young, male readers you might be struggling to engage in your lives, classes and libraries!