Year Zero

Year ZeroYear Zero by Rob Reid
Publisher: Del Rey
Released: July 1, 2012
Pages: 364
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An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet.
Worse, they were lawyering up. . . .

In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe—and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

I love it when I read the first chapter of a book and just know that I am going to love it. Year Zero was one of those books.
Despite the promises given by so many cover-blurbs, it is rare for a book to make me laugh out loud. Year Zero did. Especially the first half of the book had me involuntary burst out into chuckles and beyond more often than I care to admit. Jokes are delivered in an effortless, Douglas Adams’y, way. Absurdity is taken right up to the line of the ridiculous, but never crosses it. Silliness is well-measured, and never seems misplaced.
The premise is brilliant. It is laid out in the first chapter, which can be read for free on Amazon (Go read it!). In short, aliens have been pirating human music for decades, and just realised that they owe us an unfathomable amount of money in copyright infringement fees.
The plot is more than good enough for a book of this genre, and it does exactly what it needs to do. It explores the premise, the characters, and the ideas this book is full of. These things are done superbly. The plot is somewhat loose, but easy to follow, and its casual and irreverent nature is probably what opens for some really funny, and some genuinely surprising, twists.

Basically, read the first chapter. If you enjoy it, you will enjoy the book. I really can’t see why anyone wouldn’t. It’s just a bunch of really, really good fun.

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