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Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancaster

 Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancaster

I am the boy running around trying to tell the world that the sky is falling. And you know what? Its not an acorn this time. The sky really is falling in.

Peter Vincents father is a world-renowned scientist, the man responsible for engineering a species of mechanical bees to replace the dwindling originals. Its an act thats a triumph of technology over nature, and a similar attitude is pervasive throughout Peters world, a world where technology is the new evolution. Survival of the fittest is the old way of thinking. These days, organisms arent given the opportunity to evolve and adapt. Technology has seen to that. Thats why, rather than looking for ways to encourage the organic honeybee to thrive, the bee slate was simply wiped clean.

The same is true for humans. In the first in this series, 0.4 (see my review), teenager Kyle Straker watched from afar as humanity underwent an upgrade, becoming the hive-minded, linked-up beings that populate this book, which is set a millennium later. Those who skipped out on the update effectively became invisible to these new beingsincompatible file versions, perhaps. And yet, there persists a movement of people inspired by Strakers anti-upgrade outlook who continue to attempt to live in the old ways. Needless to say, theyre not looked upon fondly by someone of Peters fathers ilk.

When Strakerite Alpha contacts Peter to warn him of a series of disappearances, Peter finds himself drawn into a new way of thinking. Quite literally, for critical thinking and analysis isnt of particular importance in a world where information is simply fed into ones brain through the Link. Peter, who is already beginning to question the status quo, becomes increasingly critical of the world he lives in when he learns that humanity is facing another major upgrade.

Though 1.4 is set a thousand or so years from now, its themes are todays. Much is made of media monopoly, of the fact that the masses not only receive their information from a strictly limited number of sources, but also that they only receive that information those media providers wish to relay. Ive started to doubt the wisdom of drawing ones opinions from the same data well every day, says Peter at one point. At another, he reflects that its not just the informational content thats a problem. Its that people trust it, and are unable to think critically about it.

The process of reading a book takes a while to get used to, he muses. Its so slow and laborious. But once you get into it, once you forget the way youre reading and concentrate on what youre reading, it becomes a really unique experience. You have to work to draw meaning from it rather than having a meaning given to you, which is the only way we receive information these days.

The reliance on these sources as a form of memory is also a compelling issue, and one that those whove stopped bothering to memorise telephone numbers or addresses or dates will find familiar. We have stopped remembering things. We trust the Link to remember them for us. Its the present-day version of the problem raised in Wyndams The Day of the Triffids, where specialisation has meant that people need others in order to be able to survive. Theres a huge degree of trust involved, and even more so when its memory that were talking about; there are certainly Orwellian overtones here.

Theres also the idea of depersonalisation and alienation, which is widely present in dystopian fictionof which this is a beautiful exampleand which is so very relevant to us today. Its the making of artificial, largely meaningless social connections via electronic media and the pretence that theyre a suitable substitute for actual, real-world relationships. Its the idea of being so overrun and over-scheduled that taking a backseat to ones life is the easiest way to cope.

We need to feel like we belong. The Link provides us with all the connections we need. So much so that we pretty much let it run our lives for us. Its how we make sense of the world. So we look for patterns and linkages, because without them the world is a senseless blur.

I did find that the epistolary format created a certain distance between the narrator and reader, and one thats largely telling. There is a certain recursion of plot (although this is more than likely intended), and some elements, such as Alphas instant affinity for Peter, felt a little hasty. But overall, 1.4 is a compelling and thought-provoking addition to the dystopian genre.

Rating: star Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancasterstar Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancasterstar Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancasterhalfstar Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancasterblankstar Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancaster (and leaning towards a 4) (very good)

With thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont Australia for the review copy

Support Read in a Single Sitting by purchasing 1.4 from

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See our other Mike Lancaster reviews

Other books by Mike Lancaster:

0.4 mike lancaster1 Book Review: 1.4 by Mike Lancaster


  1. Ooh, interesting. I really need to stop compiling such an overwhelming tbr! lol

    • Stephanie /

      Its a super quick read, if that helps. :) I read it walking to and from walk.

      Also, disaster! My book-walking is ruining my eyes! Even more than they already are!