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Jenny reviews Human.4 by Mike Lancaster, which depicts the aftermath of a hypnosis act gone awry. Like electrical apocalypse, body snatchers awry.

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BOOK REPORT for Human.4 (Point 4 Book 1) by Mike A. Lancaster

Cover Story: Sci-Fi Street Cred
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factor: Invasion of The Body Snatchers
Relationship Status: Long-Ago Sweethearts

Cover Story: Sci-Fi Street Cred

This cover did not embarrass me at ALL when I carried it on the train. It told people I was reading something thrilling and most likely brainy. I also got some approving looks from the guys across from me who were wearing ironically nerdy Star Trek t-shirts. The pic has everything to do with what's actually in the book, and just looking at it sends chills up my spine. Also? Gross.

The Deal:

We read this story as transcribed from cassette tapes, recorded by Kyle Straker, some time in the past.

Kyle hates his town's annual talent show. But he shows up, because really, there isn't much else to do. Then when his mate Danny can't get audience volunteers to be 'hypnotized' during his magic show, Kyle dutifully raises his hand, along with Lilly, one of their other friends who Kyle has, well, a history with. Surprisingly, Danny succeeds in his hypnosis act, but even more surprising is that when they wake up, the world has changed.

Telephones and televisions no longer work, and everyone is behaving oddly. Like, pod-people odd. Kyle and Lilly struggle to come to grips with this new world, wondering if perhaps, they aren't just still experiencing the affects of being hypnotized, and that they will soon wake to a laughing audience. Or perhaps, something did happen while they were under, and the world as they know it had been changed forever...

BFF Charm: Yay!

Kyle and Lilly both handle this whole thing WAY better than I would be able to. They bicker and pick at each other in a fashion true to people with an unsolved personal conflict (and possible unresolved feelings for each other). Watching a person react in a time of crises doesn't necessarily give you a clear picture of who they really are, but Lancaster does give us a real character in Kyle through thoughts and asides during Kyle's narrative. Oh, and Kyle? I will remember you.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

As a reader, I really wanted Kyle and Lilly to get together, especially when I learned their shared history. But this is a relatively short book, and focuses on specific events, leaving the the reader the option to fill in the blanks of the rest of Kyle and Lilly's story once we finish the last page.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Mike Lancaster writes Kyle with a thoroughly legitimate teen voice. He's got the fear, the bravado, and the helplessness of someone his age going through a horrific event, while adding a measure of maturity that keeps the read interesting to me as an adult. I also appreciated the editorial notes explaining to readers of the future (present?) certain theories about the context of the tapes, as well as 'explaining' the pop-culture references.

This is the kind of terrifying story that wormed it's way in my mind as I tried to solve the mystery, and left me chilled with questions of 'what if?'

Bonus Factor: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I used to haver this irrational fear whenever I would wake from a bad dream to snuggle closer to my husband (for safety) that he'd turn over... and it wouldn't be him. I think having a loved one suddenly turn into/be controlled by something other is one of the most scary things that could ever happen, ever.

Casting Call:

Alex Esmail as Kyle

Ever since I had the pleasure of watching Attack the Block, I've been super excited for a chance to be able to use the cast for our reports. So when I was reading this book, there was just one actor I could picture as Kyle.

Relationship Status: Long-Ago Sweethearts

When I was 11, I discovered an author by the name of Asimov. Through the years, I've probably read more sci-fi than any other genre, (apart form YA, obvs) so this book was like walking a once well-familiar path. It was comforting and stimulating, and thrilling in the way that only remembering your 'once upon a time' one true-love can be.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy for free from Egmont. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). Human.4 is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.