Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Bookworm: Year Zero by Rob Reid

Crossposted from Goodreads.

This book started out pretty promising, I thought. But somewhere along the way, it went pear-shaped.

Many people have either compared it to Hitchhikers or refused to, saying that such comparisons are extremely unfair to hold a contemporary novel up against a science-fiction legend. And while I agree with the latter, honestly even I upon completing the novel could not help but sit there and wonder if I had read a rip-off of Hitchhikers.

I guess that is the inherent danger of writing a science-fiction comedy on the absurdity of human pettiness.

I originally picked up the book due to being intrigued by the concept that drove the story: Aliens owe the planet Earth the entire fortune of the universe. Also I found the prospective of learning about the inherent tragedies of copyright law from a music standpoint in a not-so-dry atmosphere to be palatable. All in all, it was enough that the book stuck in my head as a prospective reading choice, which therefore allow me to give it a fair shot.

And the opening felt promising. I found the dialogue to be pretty quirky, but not in a bad way and certainly enjoyed the pop-culture reference of every mid-2000s meme that existed.

But as the plot twisted sideways, I found that the story went the same way.

And that isn't to say a plot twisting sideways is a bad thing, but in this case, it seemed to just make the whole absurd story go from cute and funny to a case of "WTF just happened."

It was amazing how often the story got bogged down by either its technological mumbo-jumbo or else the copyright legalese involved. And while the author tried very hard to compensate for the overabundance of nonsense by adding humour to it as a means to make it less boring and more entertaining, the truth of the matter was that he tried entirely too hard to "fix" it, and therefore turning it into something that was less humourous and more obnoxious.

The footnotes didn't help either. Actually it made the whole thing far more tedious than it needed to be and basically hijacked the voice of the story from human cluelessness to a voice that was far too self-important given the current nature of the plot.

And WHAT was with that cat?

The thing that really annoyed me was how quickly things moved after the tedious middle part: too quickly if you ask me. Unbelievable as the story was to begin with, some of its solutions came about in a way that was unbelievable even within the context of the book's universe. Deus ex machina, anyone?

After all the fleshing out, it seemed as if the book decided it was in too deep and needed to wade back into shallower waters and ended up in the kiddie pool instead.

I will give credit to the penultimate solution to all our problems as I thought it was actually quite creative, but other than that, it fell flat when it needed to make its biggest impact. And while I enjoyed the humour and the pop-culture references enough that I'm willing to give it one more star than I gave Hitchhikers (which has it's own story to tell with regards to that rating), I can't say it's a book that I felt was more than the story.

It just fell flat of its intended goal.

Hate to say it, but Year Zero came off like a early-2000s boy band song: bland and commercialized.

No comments:

Post a Comment