Sequel Preparedness: Human.4 by Mike Lancaster
Later this year, in November to be exact, the world as we know it will change – again.
It began with a quiet little book titled Human.4 by Mike Lancaster. Human.4 is a classicly creepy science fiction tale that immediately brought to mind some of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone. The best part: it is incredibly creepy but appropriate for readers of all ages.
We begin by zooming in to a small town. Not a lot happens here, as it the case with most small towns. But every year there is an annual talent show. It is here that the world as we know it changes for everyone. Well, everyone except for 4 individuals who happened to be hypnotized at the moment the change occurred.
Kyle didn’t mean to volunteer for his best friends hypnotism act, he was more surprised than anyone to see his hand go in the air. But the biggest surprise of all – it seems to have worked. When Kyle and the other 3 volunteers awake from the hypnosis everyone in the audience – perhaps the whole world – is completely still. And when they do start moving again, they are very, very different.
With very precise steps, Kyle begins wandering around his town and noticing those subtle changes and realizes that things are not what they seem. Even though the people in his town are still there – they’re not exactly THERE. More disturbingly, they don’t seem to notice that Kyle is there. He no longer seems to matter, or be quite visible. The realization of what has unfolded, and what it means for Kyle and the .4, is a spectacularly interesting science fiction twist.
One of the best parts of Human.4 is the storytelling technique. It is presented as a study from someone in the future analyzing a series of cassette tapes left by Kyle with the admonition they should “please remember us.” There are even little interjections where scientists discuss the implications of what Kyle is saying. It was such a creative way to tell this creepy tale.
Like I said, this book packs a powerful, creepy punch in a very traditional way. No gore, no gimmicks – just a slowly building creep factor that sucks you in. 5 out of 5 stars and appropriate for middle grade and teen readers (and adults!) of all ages.
Check out Mike Lancaster’s web page – analogue signals – for updates and a book trailer for the companion novel, 1.4.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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