Year Zero

It was December and I needed a “Y” book to finish off my A-to-Z reading challenge. I had my eye on Year Zero by Ian Baruma. But I couldn’t get my hands on a copy and the year was coming to a close. I didn’t want to fall short by one book/letter. I noticed a different Year Zero by Jeff Long. I had read one of his novels many years ago and remembered enjoying it. But I didn’t end up enjoying this book, and a friend on Goodreads recommended a different Year Zero by Rob Reid. So I read that also. Then the first Year Zero came in from the library, so I read it.

That’s the tale of why I read three books called Year Zero in a month.

Year Zero by Ian Baruma explores the history of 1945. The book covers a huge spectrum of topics, from the revenge on Germans to the re-education of Japanese students under General MacArthur. 1945, was start of a new world. Germany had been defeated. Japan had been defeated. The colonies in Africa and especially Asia saw that their European overlords were capable of defeat.

The problem was that the book tackled too much. That leaves vignettes of the problems faced in 1945 and what happened as a result. It lacks a narrative because the book stays focused on 1945 and does not trace the problems forward.

Year Zero by Jeff Long is a tale of an apocalyptic disease triggered by the opening of an ancient Christian artifact. The novel held promise of exploring themes of Christianity, the collapse of civilization, revenge, and redemption. But it fell well short of saying anything meaningful or interesting.

Year Zero by Rob Reid is a fun sci-fi farce, with aliens and lawyers. The universe has fallen in love with Earth’s music, but illegally pirated all of it. Then trouble and misadventures follow.