Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Book Review: 0.4 by Mike Lancaster 7*

I picked this up deliberately to be an easy read at a busy time of the year. The publisher's notes say it is aimed at the 11+ age group and the more discerning reader might find some of the details and the annotated commentaries on some aspects of modern life to be too obvious.

Lancaster presents the novel as the transcript of a tape recording, two now outmoded forms of media as humankind has moved on from its 21st century state of being.

0.4 feels unusual in younger readers fiction. Although it presents its main characters in a fairly traditional stance of the outsiders, there is no Potter or Hunger Games redemption and victory here. Lancaster's protagonists do not win in the end, but neither do they really lose.

There is a fine tradition of apocalyptic, end of the world, disturbing sci-fi in the UK, and Lancaster is well schooled in the Wyndham / Christopher traditions of people being almost helpless in the face of all-consuming change. Interesting and thoughtfully written, there seems to be enough action to keep younger readers going, while providing a decently cerebral conclusion.

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