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That's What She Read

Year Zero

Year Zero - Rob  Reid, John Hodgman Most of humanity would argue that as a species, humans do pretty well for themselves when it comes to the arts. We have our highlights - Mozart, Monet, Michelangelo - and an entire group of artists we would prefer to pretend never happened. Yet, all in all, one could argue that humans know art. Then again, humans have not entered Rob Reid's wacky world of Year Zero.Nick Carter is a man with absolutely nothing to lose. He is convinced he is going to lose his job at one of the most prestigious entertainment law firms in the country. He keeps trying to get the girl - to no avail, and his only real friend is his cousin, with whom he has a bit of a love-hate relationship. When two very unlikely aliens walk into his office and ask him for help, he takes it. What follows is an experience Nick never could have imagined if he tried.Year Zero is not all humor though. Its portrayal of humans, especially of Americans, is spot-on satire. The inflated sense of self-worth, the ability to accept even the most improbable of scenarios if it means more money in one's pocket at the end of the day - Mr. Reid captures it all while wrapping it up with comedy to ease the sting.John Hodgman did an excellent job narrating Nick Carter and the entire cast of characters, silly as they are. His voice has the right amount of self-deprecation necessary for Nick but can still pull off the Frampton's cluelessness and Carly's self-serving righteousness. While the story itself is fun, Mr. Hodgman's characterizations of the alien beings really does add to the gentle mockery, making Year Zero one of the more enjoyable audiobooks of the year.Year Zero is as rollicking as one would expect of a story based around the entire premise that American music during the disco era was some of the best music in the entire universe. Even funnier is the idea that alien beings would concern themselves with copyright laws, especially given all of the issues the music industry has had with pirated music websites. Nick Carter is charmingly goofy in the most endearing of ways and plays into the silly premise perfectly. With brilliant wordplay and an incredibly good sense of humor, Mr. Reid eases the pain of his skewering of humanity's ever-growing sense of self-importance to create a story that is as entertaining as it is a biting social commentary. For the humor alone, Year Zero is well worth the time and effort. Let's face it - where else are you going to find a world in which Welcome Back, Kotter is considered the height of television?