Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone’s behaving oddly. It’s as if Kyle doesn’t exit.
Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister?
Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future, Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far. (From Goodreads)
Human.4 was an edge of your seat, nail-biting sci-fi read. In Lancaster's debut, Kyle and a few of his neighbors are the only people unchanged after the community talent show. Of course, the book doesn't begin with the talent show, so I got a bit anxious as I got to know Kyle and his family. It got to the point where I was tempted to skip ahead to the hypnosis, because I didn't want to get attached to any characters who wouldn't "survive" the talent show. Not only is he dealing with the loss of everyone he knew, excluding the few who were hypnotized with him, but he's also dealing with some feelings for Lilly (his best friend's girlfriend...or ex-girlfriend post-hypnosis). I thought that added a coming-of-age element to the book, that made the story even more interesting.
The book is told through cassette recordings that are being played back. Within the earlier chapters there are editor's notes which guess at the meaning of phrases Kyle uses. These phrases have since been lost, and people can only guess at their meaning.
Although the story was captivating, the book did feel a bit short. While I did connect with Kyle, I found the secondary characters didn't really matter much to me. There were a few scenes where they were all in danger, but I really only cared about whether Kyle made it out. I can't assume that Lancaster would have gone deeper into the secondary characters, but it would have given me more time to learn about them. Kyle's story is also open-ended, which aren't for all readers. I didn't mind it, because it left things to my imagination. I do know, however, that some people prefer to see exactly what happens.
By Mike Lancaster
Published by Egmont USA