Saturday, 19 May 2012

0.4 & 1.4 by Mike Lancaster (The Kyle Straker Series)

When I opened the parcel from Egmont and out fell a copy of 1.4 by Mike Lancaster, I was surprised and just a little bit scared!   Science-fiction is really not my usual choice of reading material, and it's aimed at Young Adults.   I read the blurb on the back, did a little research on the net and was really really intrigued, so as 1.4 is the second in the Kyle Straker series I went out and bought 0.4 (the first book).

Well, here we are a couple of weeks later and I'm a convert, well and truly hooked on Mike Lancaster's fantastic series. What an imagination that bloke has!   I'm going to do my best to review both of the books, but I'd really advise you to read them for yourselves.

So, let's start with number one in the series; 0.4 (published in the US as Human .4).   Set in the future where life and humankind as we know it has changed drastically.   A set of cassette tapes with the recording of a diary have been found and are the basis of the story.  The diary belongs to Kyle Straker, a teenage boy who lived in the early 21st century.  The diaries have been reproduced in book format, which in itself is very unusual in this future world, as nobody actually reads any more, and throughout the diary the unknown editor adds his own explanatory notes to the text.  These notes add a touch of humour, and also a touch of cynicism.

Kyle Straker was an average teenager, living in small village, hanging out with his mates, listening to music and fancying the local girls.   It's the day of the annual village talent show and Kyle and three others volunteer to be hypnotised as part of one of the acts.   This is where life becomes very very strange, when the four volunteers wake up, the rest of the village are standing stock still and are silent.   The phones are dead, the internet is cut off.    When the other villagers wake up and start to go about their business, Kyle and the other three soon realise that something catastrophic has happened - and they have been left behind.

Mike Lancaster
To say any more would give too much away, but be assured that what follows is an intelligent and fast-paced story, sometimes very scary and often very insightful.    I was totally and utterly transfixed by the story and the writing, the characters and the premise.

Moving on to the second book in the series; 1.4 was published at the beginning of this month by Egmont and we find ourselves transported many many years into the future yet again.  I'm not sure exactly how many years have passed, but it's definitely hundreds and quite possibly thousands.    Earth has changed dramatically, life is led via The Link which is accessed in people's head.   A little like our internet but without the need for the hardware, just log into your Link account (in your brain) and chat to your friends, order a new outfit, play games, listen to music - live life basically.  

Peter Vincent is the lead character of 1.4, the son of a leading scientist who has created artificial bees.   Peter's Mother left home 8 years ago, his father is cold and appears uncaring.    Peter meets Alpha - a girl who lives the other side of town, and who believe in another way of life.   Alpha is a Strakerite - she believes in the Kyle Straker Tapes, and believes that everything that is contained in 0.4 really happened.  Peter's father is totally against Strakerites - he is a scientist and has appeared to prove that Kyle Straker did not exist and is a fictional character.

Peter discovers that his life, his history, his memories are not quite what they seem.  As his world crumbles around him, he and Alpha must fight to protect their world.  

1.4 is just as intriguing, as intelligently written and as exciting as 0.4, and again I can't go into more detail as it would spoil the reading experience for others.   I've said before that science-fiction is not usually my thing, but these books have an ease about them that draws the reader in and doesn't let go until the final page is turned.

If you are a science-fiction fan you will love this series, if you don't think you are, please give them a go - I think you may get a pleasant surprise.


  1. 0.4 sounds really good but 1.4 seems maybe a little too sinister and far-fetched for my tastes (even though I don't generally mind a wee bit of sci-fi!). Maybe after reading the first one I'll be hooked though!

  2. They sound intriguing although I'm a bit fed up of YA trilogies at the moment, I think I need to start waiting until they are all out and I can read all 3 at once.

  3. I've read 0.4 and I have just started 1.4. I definitely recommend you read them

  4. I'm not a sci-fi enthusiast & yet i finished 0.4 in a day; that says something about the book!