Year Zero - Rob  Reid Nick Carter (but not the Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys) works at a law firm as a copyright assistant. Life drastically changes when two aliens pop into his office and tell him the news: Earth know owns the entire galaxy and some aliens aren't so happy about that.

NOTE: I received this through the Amazon Vine program.

Up until this morning, I had every intention of reading this book until the very end. But I had an epiphany: I had absolutely ZERO interest in finishing this book.

Why did I stop at page 156 at the book that everyone is comparing to Douglas Adams' brilliantThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Cline's amazing Ready Player One? I've loved both books. I've read Hitchhiker's twice--once on audiobook, once in actual paper form. "Ready Player One" is the best book I've read all year and my new top 5 favorite book. So if this book is being compared to those great works of art, why did I not finish it?

I think the biggest reason is because this book is most definitely NOT either book. It's nowhere near as clever, witty, funny, and irreverent as either book. Instead, this book is sophomoric, clunky, and mean. The characters are 100 shades of stupid, the prose is bland and emotionless, the story is buried under legalese, the footnotes made me stick a fork in my eye, and instead of being satirical or funny, the book is mean-spirited.

Nick Carter is a 12-year-old boy stuck in adult's clothing. I can understand why he has to be clueless (wasn't Arthur Dent?), but making juvenile jokes about petting someone's cat caters to the lowest-common-denominator. Manda is, like most women in stereotypical "scifi" books, reduced to being a set of boobs. Judy Sherman is a hideously caricatured boss, even so far as to be nicknamed "Cruella deVille"! (REALLY?!?) And the aliens, Carly and Frampton, are so stuck in their roles (one as the person who knows everything and the other as the stupid-beyond-belief idiot) that I wanted to cry. At least in Hitchhiker's Guide, pretty much everyone was a moron. And in "Ready Player One", the characters weren't perfect, but they were likable and relatable.

The story idea had promise. Aliens coming to Earth, trying for music rights? Interesting, no? But execution-wise, not so much. Much of the book is like one massive info-dump in music copyright laws (and given that the author was the creator of Rhapsody, I'm not that surprised). I suppose if you are a lawyer or like legal thrillers, you may not mind this as much as I do. But I came in for a scifi novel, not a legal thriller.

What about the scifi aspect? Pathetic. Although there are some mildly amusing sciency remarks in the footnotes (about the periodic table, powers of ten designators), there are ONLY mildly amusing sciency remarks in the FOOTNOTES. FOOTNOTES. What are FOOTNOTES doing in a fiction piece? Talk about completely disrupting the flow of the book! And half the time they could A) have been omitted without losing anything or B) integrated into the text and only ADDED humor to the situation.

Not once in the entire 156 pages I read did I laugh. I didn't even crack a smile. It's just not funny. It's like a 12 year old tossing in every half-funny thing he's ever heard and screaming, "LAUGH LAUGH IT'S FUNNY!!" And what jokes there are, seem to be mean-spirited jabs. The senator nicknamed "Fido" because he's at the law firms beck and call. The insults hurled at Clippy the Microsoft Word assistant. The horrible racial joke about how all Koreans playing WoW are actually aliens. Even the WoW scene seems to be making fun of people who play MMO's. This isn't like the references in "Ready Player One", which may have been silly, but at least they didn't outright insult people who play MMO's or video game nerds or people who like kitschy 80's bands and TV shows and whatnot. Here, it comes across as someone with an axe to grind.

If you are thinking this is like Hitchhiker's Guide or "Ready Player One", I would be VERY cautious when entering this. Please, if you consider reading this, check it out from the library or at least find a place that has a few chapters (and not just the Prologue, which is pretty good) for you to peruse before plunking down nearly 30 bucks. Maybe you'll find you like this book, and that my review doesn't reflect what you like at all. But maybe you'll be surprised that this book is nothing like what it is touted to be, and I can save you some money and time.