The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

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The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

Release date: November 13, 2012

Publisher: Egmont U.S.

Review copy provided by the publisher

(Note: This book was published in the UK as 1.4)

Currently, there is no blurb for the U.S. version of the book, so here is the Amazon blurb for the UK version (but note that some aspects of the book may have changed during editing for the U.S. version):

It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

YOU GUYS. This book. THIS BOOK. I…have no words. But in a good way. Which is shocking for me, since I can’t recall the last time a book rendered me speechless.

I shall preface the inevitable squeeing by saying that I read this book, beginning to end, in one sitting. I very rarely do that anymore, because, well, I have kids. And every now and again, I like to sleep. So I usually read in short chunks, usually about five minutes at a time.

But this book! Holy godiva, it sucked me in and spat me out on the other side. One minute I was sitting in the rocking chair outside my toddler’s room (part of her bedtime routine), the next it’s three hours later and my Kindle progress bar is saying 100%.

This book, needless to say, took me by surprise.

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It’s a YA–and there’s nothing wrong with that, since I love YA, just as I love a lot of other genres. I’m just mentioning it for category purposes. It’s also the second book in a series. Normally I don’t like picking up the second book if I haven’t read the first, but I didn’t know this was part of a series, and it didn’t matter anyway because you don’t actually need to read the first book to understand what’s going on in this one.

In fact, I think not having read the first turned out to be a good thing–I was in a very similar frame of reference as the Strakerites, who live a thousand years after Kyle Straker and the events of the first book. So the uncertainty of what exactly happened and not knowing the exact details of the first book actually turned out to work in my favor.

So who are the Strakerites? They’re a group of people who believe that humans need to return to a simpler way of life; that people rely on technology too much. And in the book’s universe, technology is everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. Everything happens on the Link, which is like the Internet on steroids, if steroids were on steroids.

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There are robotic bees, filaments shooting out of people’s hands, IM chats happening inside people’s heads… Okay, it’s pretty cool. In a weird and slightly creepy sort of way.

Why do the Strakerites essentially want to go backward technologically? Well, because their…erm, prophet(?), Kyle Straker, wrote about (well, recorded on tape) the upgrade of the human race–as he witnessed it.

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The Strakerites believe that Kyle’s account is true–that humans are upgraded every few years by an anonymous group of alien programmers. In a sense, the human race is nothing but an organic computer, upgraded every time the software gets outdated.

I KNOW. How interesting is that?! Funny enough, I’ve sometimes joked that I think God is not a deity (whatever a deity actually is), but is instead an alien member of an advanced civilization. Like the Q. Because how do we know? We take it on faith that God exists, right? (Well, some people do. I’m not purposely trying to offend atheists and agnostics and believers of non-Judeo Christian deities here.) Similarly, the Strakerites take it on faith that Kyle Straker existed, that everything he experienced was true. (In that sense, I guess you could say that “Strakerism” is a religion.

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But not really.)

It’s rather a thought-provoking novel.

Anyway. The main character, Peter Vincent, is the son of David Vincent, the brilliant inventor of the robo-bee (which saved the world’s crops from going extinct). David Vincent is vehemently opposed to Strakerite beliefs, so Peter grew up thinking that the Strakerites are basically just a group of nutjobs that run around shaking their fists at things for no reason other than they’re crazy.

Until he meets one. And a girl, to boot (Peter is apparently not allowed to date or have female friends until he’s 21, when a wife will pretty much be chosen for him). Amalfi del Rey (aka Alpha, even though Amalfi is an awesome name) is, we later find out, the daughter of a scientist who once worked with David Vincent on a project that, once discovered, blows Peter’s beliefs to smithereens.

And I’m going to stop there. But I will say that the rest of the book involves underground passageways, disappearing parents, fruit soys, air vent sofas, and a geodesic dome. Oh, and robo-bees. And possibly aliens.

I loved–LOVED–this book. I enjoyed it so much that I plan on getting the first book in the series, published as Human.4 in the U.S. (or 0.4 in the UK). I highly recommend it, especially if you like YA science fiction.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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