Lexie's Reviews > Human.4

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
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's review
Mar 29, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: review-bscreview, books-owned-read
Read on February 15, 2011

In what seems to be an ongoing trend with me, I wanted to read this book because, the cover…? I really wanted to know what’s up with it. My first thought, which couldn’t possibly be the truth, was that something was growing out of the dude’s arm.

Apparently I wasn’t that far off.

This is the sort of novel you want to re-read after you’re done, because certain inconsistencies make more sense in hindsight after the revelations of the last pages. Human.4 is more hardcore science fiction than I normally read, but the mystery of what was going on is what kept me reading.

I’ll say right now this won’t be a book for everyone. Honestly, if I hadn’t read it, and someone had just explained it to me, I’m not sure I would have picked it up. It’s part science fiction thriller and part teenage growing troubles.

There is also not a lot of depth to the characters outside of Kyle. On a critical level this is frustrating because we only know as much about the people as Kyle tells us, and he takes his sweet time. We don’t learn about the history between Kyle and Lilly until he decides it’s a good moment. We only have his impressions of the people he interacts with. Because the book is meant to be a written accounting of his oral story, there’s only one side.

At times the “editor” (who is really the author interjecting) will make anthropological notes about random facts–the culture’s obnoxious use of oxymorons or the banality of reality TV for instance–or talk about scholarly works that analyze the “Straker Tapes,” but by and large everything is based on Kyle’s viewpoint. It’s rather telling when another character, Mrs. O’Donnell, mentions the first name of a man Kyle had been talking about quite knowledgeably a couple chapters before. Kyle looks at her confused until she clears things up.

If one is introspective, there is a lot to dissect and discuss. It’s a provocative topic–humans being “upgraded” like a computer. As easily as a computer, no less. Being programmed to just forget things as easily as you delete a file that’s no longer needed. I tried to think of how I would feel watching everyone I love either view me as little better then a bug or completely ignore my existence. It chilled me.

At the end of the “tapes,” Kyle says that a choice is going to be made. We’re not told which choice he makes, nor if he feels that it’s the right choice or not. We’re left with a “lady or the tiger” situation in which the reader has to decide whether it would be better to remain or to become like the others. Which is preferable? Is it possible to really say until you’re in such a position?

The mystery of what happened to the village is tense. Kyle throws out more theories than I could follow after, and in a way they were all partially correct. Human.4 doesn’t offer concrete answers, which could be a good thing for discussion purposes. It can also be exasperating as a perfectly good theory comes around, and a character says “Sure. Let’s go with that,” in such a way that you know something is wrong with it.

In the end enjoyment of the book boils down to this: do you need concrete answers to enjoy a novel, or is speculation more your cup of tea?

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Reading Progress

02/15 page 30
03/29 marked as: books-owned-read
03/29 marked as: read
06/02 marked as: read

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