Please note the below review contains some spoilers for this book.
What if humans were upgraded? This is the central question behind Mike Lancaster’s brilliant YA novel 0.4 Told in the form of a transcribed tape recording by a future audience, Lancaster skilfully combines the idea of found footage into YA literature well. As a fan of all things creepy, including found footage films (shaky cam and all, I have to admit I love them) this book sounded so up my street when I read the summary I had a feeling this would be a novel I would love.
When Kyle Straker is hypnotised along with ex-girlfriend, Lily, and two locals in his small sleepy English village something goes wrong, very wrong. The audience freeze, the town freezes and everyone but the four of them are suddenly frozen. Then they wake up and something is different with everyone else. They can’t quite explain it, but something has happened to them.
As Kyle begins to learn there has been some sort of upgrade and he, Lily and the others have been ignored for it, everything he knows about humanity is about to change and things get very creepy.
This is an incredibly hard novel to review and I can’t think of one reason why. I’d like to say, for me, it was a really fresh and different read and one that has really provoked me as a reader. I have a lot of friends who don’t read YA, but who I would wholeheartedly make this read this book and am pretty sure they would love it.
If you’ve ever read House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielski (it’s an adult book, but one I love!) the quasi-academic interludes and found-footage will be familiar to you, but this is one of the first times I have seen it in YA. The additions were brilliant on how the future may see our pop-culture, the Teletubbies moment in particular was fabulous.
The tape format works well as a book, but would make a brilliant audiobook too however I think some of the ‘magic’ of the book, like the missing bits of tape and commentary around it would be harder to portray or really convey as well.
Lancaster’s novel is a chilling, exciting read that can be taken on the surface or analysed more deeply about humanity, who we are and why it’s so important as teenagers. Kyle and Lilly have become immediate outsiders to all of humanity as they knew it and this amplified way to explore such a theme is thought-provoking.
0.4 is available to buy now and it’s sequel 1.4 has just been released by EgmontUK which I will be reviewing in the next week. I bought my copy of 0.4 after receiving 1.4 from the publishers and am incredibly glad I bought and read it. It is simply a stunning ‘sci-fi’ that is well worth reading! Just a note to my American lovelies, this book was just released on the 22nd in the US as Human.4 rather than 0.4. Check it out, you won’t regret it!