1.4 by Mike Lancaster

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1.4 by Mike Lancaster

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fantastic follow-up to 0.4, which posits that human evolution is disrupted by regular alien "updates". We love a good bit of proper sci-fi here at Bookbag and this one is just super. What exactly does it mean to be human? Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1405258187

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Peter Vincent lives a privileged life. His father is a world-renowned scientist and fully expects his son to follow in his footsteps. But Peter has other ideas. He wants to study literature. Although he enjoys gaming and social networking, he's uncomfortable about spending too much time on The Link, a system which connects the minds of every individual on the planet. So when he meets Strakerite Alpha, he is immediately attracted to her. Peter's father hates the Strakerites, who believe that human evolution depends on regular upgrades from alien aggressors.

So when Alpha contacts Peter to tell him that people are disappearing, he is more than willing to help. Together, they will uncover a conspiracy to hide the clock ticking down to the next upgrade...

Set a thousand years after upgrade witnessed by Kyle Straker in 0.4, 1.4 is another fascinating and eerie book. Everything in it is so clever and full of contrasts. Peter makes endless lists, keeps secrets from his father and constantly mentions FaceSpace, MyBook and Linkipedia, which are so familiar that they suggest adolescence is something essentially human, despite any number of operating updates from otherworldly bullies. But then he extends filaments from his fingers and uses them to connect with Alpha - something so foreign, so alien, it really is quite shocking. Peter's father saved the world by creating robotic bees to pollinate plants. This is technology beyond our imagining but the hubris behind it - the bees themselves weren't saved, just replaced - is so very human. So very 0.4!

There's even something approaching the breaking of the fourth wall - 0.4's narrative was punctuated by editor's notes and some readers (including me) didn't like it. In 1.4, Peter says I wonder if anyone will discover this record. If they do, I hope they don't bookend it with editor's notes like the Straker Tapes. I laughed out loud!

I said it about 0.4 and I'm going to say it again about 1.4. We don't get enough proper sci-fi written for the young adult market. I can't imagine why, because it's fertile ground for teenage readers who are all asking the big, important questions about themselves, their lives, and the societies they fit into. What exactly does it mean to be human? Is there anyone out there? Are they benign? I loved 1.4 for its clever contrasts, for its questions, for its humour and for its refusal to tie everything up into a silly and facile happy ending. But of course, I loved it the most for its robotic bees. Who wouldn't?!

Highly recommended.

You really should read 0.4 first.You might also enjoy Gamerunner by B R Collins a raw and fast-paced dystopian novel, and August by Bernard Beckett - two children abused by the church meet again in life-threatening circumstances. Intense and claustrophic book looking at free will. Do any of us have it?

Buy 1.4 by Mike Lancaster at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 1.4 by Mike Lancaster at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy 1.4 by Mike Lancaster at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 1.4 by Mike Lancaster at Amazon.com.


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