Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review: "Year Zero" by Rob Reid

Sometimes you read a book and marvel at the author's storytelling ability, their use of language, or the way they were able to transport you to a specific place or time. And sometimes you read a book that's just so mind-blowingly creative that you wonder how in the world the author was able to not only come up with the idea for the book, but carry it through to execution.

Rob Reid's Year Zero definitely falls into the latter category for me. This book is funny, thought-provoking, and tremendously unique, and so many times I found myself shaking my head, amazed with the creative world he created.

Nick Carter (not the Backstreet Boy) is a low-level entertainment lawyer, who one day gets a visit from a redheaded mullah and a sexy nun, who claim to be aliens named Frampton and Carly—and famous aliens at that. They explain to Nick that the entire universe has been hooked on humanity's music since "Year Zero"—1977—when a first-run episode of Welcome Back, Kotter made its way into the galaxy, and inhabitants on every planet heard the mesmerizing theme song.

Since then, the cosmos has gotten its hand on every song every written, and shared them with every citizen on every planet, everywhere. Essentially, they've committed the biggest copyright violation in history. The resulting fines and penalties could bankrupt the whole universe. And the aliens will stop at nothing to keep from paying their debts, even if it means violating galaxy rules and "inadvertently" destroying Earth.

Nick may be a bumbling lawyer who is on the verge of getting fired, but he does know copyright law. He gets his wits about him to enlist help, from some people smarter than he is, and others who are more powerful, including a famous senator with musical aspirations. But he has to be sharp—not only are Carly and Frampton as bumbling as they are good intentioned, but he needs to outsmart a parrot that talks like Vinnie Barbarino and a vacuum cleaner who could help hasten the world's destruction. And that's just for starters.

Year Zero is jam-packed with musical and pop culture inside jokes, implausible situations that almost could possibly be real, diverse creatures from planets far and wide, and a lot of zany humor. The galaxy's obsession with our music—and the resultant legal hurdles that come with downloading and copying music—is a fascinating subject on which to build a book. There were times when I laughed at loud at something in the book, and many times I shook my head, amazed that Reid thought of yet another creative twist.

Overall, however, I felt the book was almost too jam-packed. There were so many planets, so many creatures, so many characters to try and keep track of. And I felt like there were characters and situations I expected to play a real role in the story because they seemed to keep popping up, that never materialized. That being said, it's still a richly creative, funny book, and I'd imagine science fiction fans would really enjoy this.

No comments:

Post a Comment