Year Zero by Rob Reid posits that aliens will destroy Earth not because they want to enslave us all to their tentacled will, but because they've accidentally racked up a spectacularly huge amount of debt by illegally downloading Earth's music. It's left up to low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter (not the Backstreet Boy), his indie musician neighbor Manda, and two bumbling alien reality show stars to try and save our planet from imminent destruction. Together their adventures have them encountering deadly alien bureaucracy, otherworldly beings that look like vacuum cleaners, and American record executives more concerned with maintaining profit than the fate of the planet as a whole.
As a smartly satirical bit of wildly outrageous science-fiction, Year Zero is a novel that easily evokes comparison to Douglas Adams' seminal work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. However, this works both in Reid's favor and to his detriment. While Reid is certainly writes in a style that evokes the late, great author, this is his first novel and therefore both his prose and comedic timing pale in such an unfair comparison to one of the modern masters. Outside of such comparison, Year Zero holds its own as a thoroughly funny and fun romp, just barely managing to outstay its welcome as the humor and plot wears thin in the last twenty pages.
Tim @ Central