Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

0.4

0.4: Mike Lancaster, September 6—11, 2016

My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

0-40.4 (also published as Human.4) is a found-footage tale narrated by 15-year-old Kyle, the nice guy who volunteers to demonstrate his awkward friend Danny’s hypnotism act at the village talent show. He and three fellow villagers discover very strange happenings when they emerge from their trance.

For reasons that become clear in due course, Kyle has recorded his story onto old-style cassettes, which have been transcripted by Lancaster as the editor. Despite this, much of the prose reads more like a novel than an audio account; a missed opportunity to build authenticity but not, in the main, hugely damaging. There is a tendency to over-rely on one-sentence paragraphs and one-word sentences which really does grate a bit. It’s a clunky choice of emphasis that puts too much weight on too many clauses, so in the end it’s just a disjointed prose that doesn’t flow. Lancaster’s editing includes frequent explanation of phrases or activities of early-21st century practices that the futuristic reader would not be expected to understand; these are cleverly devised to both suggest what will become obsolete, and how it could be viewed.

Kyle is a likeable and honest lead who has a sense of humour and is essentially decent. His repertoire boasts an impressive display of pop culture references, from The Body Snatchers to Doctor Who. There isn’t much in the way of character depth or development, though. The backstory with Kyle’s friend Lily (and her mostly absent boyfriend Simon) is sort of clumsily acknowledged; despite the attempt to build tension, it builds to nothing. There is no confrontation nor resolution. There doesn’t, really, seem to be much point to any of it.

The book is broadly split into three ‘tapes’, each of two sides. The first tape is very much a scene setting exercise, so it’s only the second two-thirds of the novel in which the relevant events unfold. Taking place over one afternoon, much of the discourse is some back-and-forth between the leads amounting to ‘wtf?!’.

It’s not clear why Lancaster has written 0.4. What did he want to explore? What motivated him to write this piece? Had it been the character of Kyle, we would have seen him change or grow or somehow be impacted by what happens. Instead, he’s the literary equivalent of beige throughout. Had it been the situation itself, we would have explored is roots, or ramifications. But it’s slotted in at the end, like a sci-fi equivalent of the butler having done it, but in no way explored.

0.4 is readable and entertaining, but has no purpose or message carrying it forward. Neither the plot nor the characters can sufficiently hold their own for the duration, and when the page closes over, it commits the cardinal sin: being entirely forgettable.

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This entry was posted on September 11, 2016 by in 3 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare