Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Year Zero by Rob Reid

Title: Year Zero
Author: Rob Reid
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 364
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I received this book in a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads .

An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet.
Worse, they were lawyering up. . . . 

In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe—and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

I really had no idea what to expect when I got Year Zero out of the mailbox. It had an alien wearing headphones on the cover... I read the back and realized that this is totally not my style. Still, I felt an obligation to the author to give it a go (he gave me a free copy of his book, after all).

Right from the start, the reader has to be up to date with every musical performer from the 70s until today. As a child raised in the 90s, I have no idea what most of these references even are. For anyone who doesn't know who the stars of the 90s and early 00s are, keeping up will be quite difficult as well. I cannot imagine this will be on too many shelves in 20 years.

The story itself seemed a little hurried and even sporadic. The characters didn't really keep me interested and the style of writing reminded me of an elementary school student's short story - then this happened, and then that happened, etc. I gave up on the footnotes about halfway through.

I'm giving it more than one star purely because of the shock value. I was constantly like, "what just happened?" The parrot, for instance... Year Zero was somewhat entertaining and I did get through it very quickly just to see what sort of randomness would happen next, but I probably wouldn't read it again.