Published March 8, 2011.
Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone’s behaving oddly. It’s as if Kyle doesn’t exit.
Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister? (goodreads.com)
That cover kind of squicks me out a bit. Those tentacle-like things coming out of the hand? And then when it happens in the book . . . *shudder* Topics like what HUMAN.4 is about usually succeed in creeping me right the hell out, especially when written well. And this one is. Lancaster did a great job of posing the what-if question and making the execution believable. And again it’s why we’re back to the creepy part.
Another one of my favorite aspects of HUMAN.4 was giving an alternate explanation to something that could be supernatural. That something that you see out of the corner of your eye? What if it’s not a ghost but something that came before? Something now rendered irrelevant and no longer worth our time? I don’t want to give spoilers because the book is awesome and I don’t want to ruin it but that irrelevance notion is totally horrifying to me. That something, someone, can still exist perfectly fine and as normally as we are, but we’ve rendered them so irrelevant that our eyes no longer recognize them. Now imagine you are that irrelevant thing . . .
I’m just enamored with the different road HUMAN.4 took on its quest to tell the story. Kyle turned out to be an excellent MC and someone that you can connect with almost immediately. He does have that natural young boy syndrome that makes him somewhat unlikable but when the fecal matter starts flying at the rotating device he, and his slightly jerky love interest, start taking on different tones and you get to see them in new light. Maybe their personalities adjust a little too quickly to the changing situation but I’m okay with it. The greater story was just so fantastic that I was able to overlook whatever might have been wrong with the rest.
The world that Lancaster built, while solidly anchored in our reality, is something otherworldly without being unrecognizable. He didn’t have to alter it much but what had been changed was something shaped into a digital unreality. It leaves you wondering what if? Of course it’s a comment on the digital revolution we’re currently living in but it’s so adeptly touched upon some of our current unknowns that the ‘what if’ couldn’t be kept from your mind if you tried.
A little bit of horror, a little bit of digital, a lot of awesome, HUMAN.4 puts an excellent spin on our current dystopia craze, makes it something more relatable and a hell of a lot more horrifying. The ‘what if’ factor is so much more immediate and you won’t be able to help but wonder . . .
Ban Factor: Medium – It’s short on any kind of touchy subject but it does have a couple of kids bucking the trend and going against the “greater good.” That might anger them. Assuming they can actually read.
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