Thursday, May 3

1.4 by Mike Lancaster

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Egmont Books Ltd and is used solely as an aide to the review.

Peter Vincent doesn't believe in the stories of the 0.4 that the Strakerites preach. His father is one of the most powerful men in the world - the creator of artificial bees which saved the planet - and insists that their strange theories, which claim to debunk human evolution, is nonsense.

All Peter wants to do is escape into the Link, a system which connects the minds of single every person on the planet. With information, music, virtual holidays, and games available in the literal blink of an eye, Peter should have no problem escaping reality.

Except there is a rumour of something sinister, hushed up. People are disappearing, and with everyone connected through the Link nothing is private. The world is being altered and Peter is no longer sure what is real or who he can trust.

Set one thousand years after '0.4,' this book proved to be just as eerie as its predecessor. The defining qualities of humanity are once again called into question and Lancaster extinguishes the gap in our ever-progressing need to connect with each other and technology.

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year - ever since I learnt of its existence - and it did not disappoint. Even though I had ordered the book online, it was so slow to arrive that I purchased it on ebook. That is how impatient I was to read it.

Whereas I read '0.4' in paperback, reading '1.4' electronically seemed somehow more appropriate. The distinction between humanity and technology is blurred in Peter Vincent's world, but he is still a character readers can relate to. He goes to school, keeps secrets from his father, and likes to imagine himself as a hero in the fantasy games he plays.

There are several nods to current social/gaming/pop culture with "MyBook," "FaceSpace," "Linkepedia" and "LinkPad" as well as "Last Quest." Peter's obsession with making lists is something I can relate to and his interests cover literature, music, apps and games. '1.4' may be set in a futuristic - and somewhat alien - setting but it isn't too much so as to estrange the reader.

I found this book to be as unputdownable as the first. Lancaster has a way of keeping the reader questioning, not only the events of the novel but also about the ethics of humanity's attachment to technology. Even now, we live in a time where we are always looking for the fast, easy and accessible way, and where there are a couple of large corporations which we rely on, no questions asked.

I suppose you could read '1.4' as a stand-alone novel but I wouldn't recommend it. There are too many references that will go over your head. Some of them reiterated my need to re-read '0.4' or perhaps listen to it on audio.

'1.4' will be published in hardback by Egmont USA in November 2012 under the title, 'The Future We Left Behind.'

I'm not sure what to expect from Lancaster's future novels but I do know that I am eager to read them.

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