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The story behind Year Zero is summarized in the writeup, and in many of the other reviews.
Folks have thrown around comparisons to Douglas Adams, and while I can understand the impulse, I think they do come at SF from different comedic angles.
Hitchhiker's Guide and company have much more of an absurdist bent - the plot will often bend in service to the joke that Adams is trying to reach. Reid has an outlandish premise, and the comedy results from taking this premise and following it all the way through to the furthest logical (illogical?) extremes. I enjoy both approaches, and while I love and revere Adam's stuff, I think I find Reid's take a more satisfying as a reader.
Or as a listener.
Hodgman's performance on this audiobook is an absolute delight.
I have heard him in interviews, on The Daily Show, on his podcast Judge John Hodgman, in ads, and as an occasional actor. I am an absolute fan, but he seems to keep winding up in roles where he is performing variations on insane-intellectual-lecturer-mad-professor-on-downers-with-an-ironic-twist. (Probably not the most concise description, but I hope the point comes across. Let me state unequivocally, that I am a big fan of his. ) In Year One, he showed more range in the first two hours of the narration than I have seen from him elsewhere.
In many audiobooks, narrators will sometimes lose me in a round of dialogue - they may not make each character distinctive enough to understand who exactly is speaking at any given moment. This was never a problem in this reading, and some of the voices that Hodgman came up with were downright suprising. (I actually checked again on Audible to make sure he was the only narrator listed, they were that different from his normal tone.)
He makes each voice distinctive, but does not lapse in to cartoony or schlocky impressions (something I struggle with when reading stories to my kids at night). His own voice - insane-intellectual-lecturer-mad-professor-on-downers-with-an-ironic-twist is absolutely perfect for the narrator, Nick Carter.
If the premise even mildly intrigues you, or if you are a fan of Hodgman in other media, please give this a try. I loved it.
34 of 37 people found this review helpful
I wish people wouldn't compare new authors to epic writers like Douglas Adams or Steig Larsson. It just sets them up for failure and disappoints readers. While this is a funny book about aliens, that's where the comparison to Douglas Adams stops. Rob Reid may have been influenced by reading Hitchhiker's, but he may have also enjoyed a book or two by Christopher Moore, or any number of other humorous writers. If you choose to listen to this book, listen to it for its' own value and not because you liked some other book that came before it.
That being said, here's what I thought of Year Zero:
It started out a little slow for me. I had a hard time getting into the characters and the story line. But once I got the hang of it, I found it to be packed with little quips and references to everything nerdy that I love. From the video game Portal to Microsoft Windows. It's not the kind of book where I laughed out loud in random public places while listening with my earphones, but I did chuckle quite a few times, and thought to myself, wow, he really just said that!
The narrator was perfect for this part. Not too over the top, and not so middle of the road that he made the funny bits boring. He did a great job with all the voices.
If you are a nerd, geek or gamer (or have a partner that is) you will love this book.
17 of 20 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Year Zero?
The premise is poor, delivery is below standard and I have only just made it to the end of the first chapter.
What will your next listen be?
Still thinking about it
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of John Hodgman?
Not sure the book is worth it
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
I took time to get into it but loved the concept. funny clever concept. recommend it
Still a fun novel. I just felt that the main plot was a bit slow with lots of side bits. There were lots of incidental characters and incidents that could have been fleshed out or could feature in further novel.
Still liked it, but read it at double speed
This book is highly recommended by me! Its fun to listen to, easy to understand, well written, and very well read. I was recommended this book buy the guys at TWIT as the Author was on the show and thought it might be worth the read, IT WAS!
I'm not normally a far out fiction reader. but the story line is just too good in this book.