Book Review: Year Zero by Bob Reid

Published: July 2012

Publisher: Del Ray

Pages: 364

Genera: SciFi, teen friendly though words like ‘whore’ are found periodically

Final Rating: 2.5 stars

Series: nope, standalone

Source: Library Overdrive account, in ebook format

Other Disclaimers: Nothing of note besides a few gross minor ‘-isms’ I will discuss in the review

Summary:

Aliens are real.  And they devote all their time to the Refined Arts, which they are extremely good at, unlike measly, primative Humans.  However, the most revered of the Refined Arts is music and, well, aliens suck at making music.  So when it was discovered that humans are very good at making music Aliens go crazy and illegally download a tonne of human music.  Which happens to be against our copyright laws.  So now every Alien species out there – that humans don’t even know exist yet as they haven’t advanced enough to be brought into the Refined League – owes humans all the money in the universe and more.  Unfortunately certain Aliens don’t take this news well.  But how do you protect yourself against something you are not technologically advanced enough to understand?

Year Zero follows a copyright lawyer and he new Alien friends as they try and sort out this legal battle and prevent things from becoming deadly.

Review:

Ever read a book that starts out so great it makes you go “yes this is the book I need to be reading” and then within a very short time you realize that it just…isn’t?  I really hope you never have because it’s so disappointing.  That is what happened to me with Year Zero.  It had the most promising opening I have read in literal years.  Then by the end of the third chapter I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as it promised.

What this book promised from the start was a ridiculously funny and interesting read that took the subject to the extreme but didn’t cross the line into absurd.  For example, the discovery of human music was so big of an event that the Refined League reset the universe’s clock back to zero on the day and time of first discovery.  Silly, for sure, but not absurd.  Sure a few of the things brought up in the opening prologue used the set the scene and tone of the book pushed the boundaries of believability but it was never too much.  But all that fizzled as soon as the book hit chapter one.  Literally in the first chapter things start to go awry.

It started with a very racist joke.  Which, thankfully, didn’t extend past the first chapter and I didn’t see anything racist after that (though I’m white so I’m not overly sensitive to that sort of thing so I could have missed something).  After that, the book showed that it was clearly a British person writing an American.  I actually still haven’t checked if the writer is British, but there are certain words used in the book that are not New York, even if this is an AU version of NY.  In actuality, Goodreads is telling me Reid is American, but I wonder if he has spent time abroad because the word usage was just too off; it didn’t work in the location he chose to set the book in.

The author tried to do a few things to the book to make it stand out.  The humour was one thing, but it was very hit or miss.  Yet, when the humour hit, it hit well.  2016-11-28.jpgThe giant Microsoft/Bill Gates conspiracy was inspired and I will forever think about it every time my computer crashes or isn’t running properly.  Or the joke at the bottom of this page, which I had to screen shot and share with friends from that side of the world.  The word usage was another, but I found it strange.  The footnotes thing was cute-for one chapter.  The book employed footnotes to add humorous little extras to the text that couldn’t really be added in line with the story.  After the first chapter they were more annoying then anything else.  Especially if you read it on an ereader so it was hard to flip back and forth so just read all the notes at the end of the chapter.  But if you didn’t read the chapter all in one sitting the notes didn’t make much sense.  Finally the song lists at the end of the book were only mildly interesting, but mostly just very stereotypical.

The other ‘ism’ I had an issue with in this book was the gross sexism.  It started with the whole ‘if you haven’t caught on during the entire chapter of me texting my crush I will now tell you that I’m a heterosexual man that has FeelingsTM for my neighbour when it was clearly obvious from the start of the book, after 12% and 3/4 chapters‘.  That was not really sexism, but is something you see in about 90% of books written by men with male leads.  It’s tired an boring.  Another thing you see in these types of books that was also present was the main female character was hot (shocker), a musician (yawn), studied premed in school (not unheard of but pushing believability) but was also working as a paralegal????  Is there any box that wasn’t checked in that list?  Looks, brains in both science and law and can play music and sing and liked the main male lead.  High standards of perfection, much?  Then there were two whole chapters that the second main female lead was described as a ‘tramp’ or ‘whore’ or other variations on that every time she was mentioned.  Gross. Gross. Gross. Gross.

I will say that for the most part, the world building in this book was stellar.  The things Reid thought up were creative and interesting, even though at the start there were essentially human-like aliens.  The book even poked fun of the fact that this is a tired and stale trope but then it went on to show other types of aliens and interesting worlds.  Perhaps those well read in SciFi wouldn’t be impressed with the world building as there are doubtless countless better example out there.  One of which (by Douglas Adams) I really want to read soon. 

Last Thoughts:

Overall my high hopes were dashed with this book.  It had good moments but there were a lot of issues with it and caused me to only give it a 2.5 star rating.  I’m not upset that I read this book and think that others would enjoy it.  It did give me quite a few laughs and was interesting enough.  However, it wasn’t as good as it initially promised and that disappointed me. 

Pet Peeves #2

Reading is awesome.  However, I do have some petpeeves with books and reading.  Here are 5 more:

1. Maps in hard cover books on the inside cover pages.  It’s handy and super convenient to find when it’s your own book, it absolutely sucks when it’s a library book since the dust jacket is taped over the map and you can’t see 40% of the map.  Publishers should have fold-out maps for fantasy books. 

2. When the text on the spine of a book across a series does not line up.  For example when the book number in the series is at the top of the spine but one of them is 2 millimetres further down the spine then in the other books. 

3. Similarly, when one book in a series is slightly smaller then the rest thus the spines and the writing on them don’t line up on the shelf.

4. Book covers that are essentially stylistic font on a fairly plain background.  A cover sells the book and these covers tell me nothing about the book and definitely don’t sell the book to me.  They bore me. 

5. Stickers on library books that cover critical parts of the cover.  Like the name of the book.  Or the author.  Or what that interesting thing is in the cover model’s hand. 

On the topic of re-reading

Imagine this situation: a sequel comes out in a series you are reading.  But it’s been a while since you that the previous book.  Do you re-read the first book(s) before moving on to the sequel?  Or do you read just move forward and read the sequel?  (Please let me know in the comments below!)

Watching Booktube it feels like most people like to re-read the previous books in the series before they read the sequel and due to the rampant mentality that re-reading is bad and reading new books is good, it causes many a sequel to go unread.  Or so it seems from the side lines.

For me, I typically don’t re-read the previous books and there are a number of reasons for this:

-I have a fairly good memory.  Even if I don’t remember much about the past book, reading the next book typically give me a crash course in what happened last time. 

-If I did forgot things from previous books and the next book is good it provides an excellent opportunity for a re-read of the series.

-I don’t want re-reading to hold me back.  if I have to re-read several books before getting to a new one the odds of me reading the new one is reduced.

-I have nothing against re-reads and I re-read books often.  However when I re-read books, I do it to re-experience the book, not to be able to move on in a series.  Essentially, I read for pleasure and most of the time I feel for me, personally, that re-reads before reading the next in a series is not pleasurable and reading the next one immediately is pleasurable. 

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Does it depend on the series/book?  Do you only ever do one or the other?  Am I turkey?  Did the dragon come before the egg?  I would love any comment you have on this!

Oh look, a book haul! (finally)

If you haven’t noticed, this blog is not one that does book hauls all that often. Firstly, because I don’t buy a lot of books. In fact, these are the first two books I have bought in over a year and in all likelihood, the last ones for a while. Secondly, I don’t ever want to make anyone feel bad for not being able to buy books. I mostly read out of libraries since money is and has been tight in the past and I know a lot of other people are int he same boat as me. Plus, I like to know that I like or love the book before I spend money on it. Related to this, I never want to make others feel like they need to buy books or that they should buy books or that they need to read more. I want this to be some sort of safe bookish space for people.haul1All that being said, I was in a bookstore this weekend and I splurged and would like to share what I have bought for myself. I have yet to read these books, breaking an unspoken rule of mine, so they were a bit of a leap of faith for me!

So without any more boringness, let’s get to the books, shall we!

haul2

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Published: April 5th 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Pages: 173

Genera: Found in Adult Fantasy section

Series: Yes, first of 1 currently out

This first one I have been dying to read for months now but my library system does not have it.  It’s a newer release, from the beginning of the year.  I have it on good authority that it is AMAZING.  That plus the summary plus a spoiler that I have heard about the book, I think it’ll be great and that I’ll enjoy it.  I was hesitant about buying this book because it’s pricey for it’s length, but hopefully I will love it and not care once I read it!  Also, that cover is fabulous!  It definitely does not follow the thread of “terribly photoshopped white girl not looking at you” that has become so rampant in literature.  Finally, this book was found in the adult section, but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of YA reads?  I will keep you updated.

haul3

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Published: July 2014

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 404

Genera: Found in Adult SciFi

Series: Yes, first of 2 currently released, more to come

This next book is another I have wanted to read for several months but, alas, the library does not have it.  It’s described as a character-focused SciFi which is right up my ally at the moment so I took a chance on it and bought it!  Plus, again, that cover sold me on it.  It’s too pretty and perfect and it makes me want to follow the trend of a front facing display book on my bookshelves.  It was also found in the Adult SciFi section, but I’ll keep you updated as to whether it can be read by younger crowds as well.  This one (and the previous one) is on the list of books I want to read before the year is over so I have to start cracking at it to get it read!

PS if the images are funny coloured its because I took them after dark in weird lighting with a phone whose camera only works 5% of the time so you gotta use it when it’s working! 

The middling 10

The next ten books I have read this year!  Getting closer to completing my goal with only 10 books and 20% left to do.

Read so far:

31. Spy Glass by Maria V Snyder     2/5 stars

32. Power Study by Maria V Snyder     5/5 stars

33. Ice Study by Maria V Snyder     4/5 stars

34. In Real Life by Jessica Love     4/5 stars

35. Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder     4.5/5 stars

36. Night Study by Maria V Snyder     4.5/5 stars

37. Fire Study by Maria V Snyder     4.5/5 stars

38. Graceling by Kristin Cashore     4/5 stars

39. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner     4.5/5 stars

40. Fire by Kristin Cashore     3.5/5 stars

Average book rating: 4.05

Comments:

A solid list of 4-5 star reads this time around!  I mean, I guess it’s normal that most books fall into the average book rating of ~3 stars (for me) and few end up being bad.  At least that is how I want my scale to be set up: 3 stars are more average books, 4 and 5 stars are good or great or excellent and less then 2 stars is problematic in some way.  I have talked a bit about this before somewhere on my blog and its why part of the reason why i have a separate tabbed page on my rating system.  But of course I want to read more good books and fewer ‘meh’ average books.  

Typically, I read trusted authors or re-read books, which I didn’t do as much the last round-up of books.  This time around I had more re-reads and I stuck with one author I trusted which is a large part of why I did better for ratings.  Re-reading a lot of books is actually typical of me since as a kid it was hard to trust new authors or figure out what new books are out there (plus the library was small).  Trying to find new favourites and good and so is reading books you typically would not or that you think you won’t like, but so is staying with trusted books or authors and my end of the year wrap up will reflect that I did all types of reading this year.  

This list also has diversity in the type of things on it: audiobooks, short stories, contemporary books oh my!  Also a debut novel which was also published in 2016 along with 2 other that were new releases, one that was 20 years old and a few that are about 10 years old.  A really good mix of things!

For the first part of this list I took a lot less time to read each book to the point I was caught up to be on track to finish my reading goal on time!  But then life happened and I’m behind again though I’m stubbornly refusing to change my challenge goal unless I absolutely need to, but even then I think I’d be fine with not completing, just being close.  

Something else fun I did during this time was purging my Goodreads ‘to read’ list!  it’s still unmanagable but much, much better.  

 

On my reading goals: As I said, I was on track but am now not.  However knowing me if I get into another reading mood I should be able to finish up the remaining 10 books I need.  I’m on a bus all day today so I will finish up my current read for sure and have plans to go buy a book or two as a treat while I’m away.  They would be my first of the year! Gasp!  I also don’t know how I managed that either and I am already feeling like I should not buy what I plan to but we shall see what happens. 

What’s next: Finish my reading challenge. Write a nice post about my reading goals this year.  Pick some new reading goals for next year.  Read some damn good books.  Do the book awards where I highlight some of the best books I read this year. 

First Line Friday #2

So I have more then just the first line, but the first few lines just build upon each other so well here that this is likely the best opening to a book I have read all year. 

Aliens suck at music. And it’s not for lack of trying. They’ve been at it for eons but have yet to produce even a faintly decent tune. If they had, we’d have detected them ages ago.

Published: July 2012

Publisher: Del Ray

Pages: 364

Genera: SciFi (adult??)

Rating: currently 5 stars at 2% into the book

The last page

thoughtsAre you the type of person to read the last page/chapter before the end of the book to see how it ends and then finish reading the book or do you need to read the book in order, no skipping allowed?

For me, I never really understood how people can skip all the good stuff to spoil the end!  yet my mother swears by this reading method: first read the first few chapters to get a sense of the book, plot and main characters, then read the last few pages of the book to know how it goes, then read all the middle.  It’s apparently something to do with not wanting to wait to see how it ends and makes the reading part more enjoyable and I think it also has to do with her reading books over the course of weeks so she doesn’t need to wait forever to figure out how it goes.  Yet, that just seems to suck the fun out of the book!

What do you think?  Which type of person are you and why?

I will saw, though, that I will still read books that I have been spoiled for if I wanted to read it before I was spoiled, but I do also go and spoil myself for books that I don’t really want to read but am interested enough to want to know what happens.  So in a way you can say I do actually ‘read the last chapter’ before reading the middle in certain cases. But that’s different?

I really want to know how you do it!  Please tell me!