Title: The Dark Net | Author: Benjamin Percy | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Pub. Date: 08/01/2017 | Pages: 272 | ISBN13: 9780544750333 | Genre: Cyber-Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Scenes of mass destruction | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration
The Dark Net
Hell on earth is only one click of a mouse away…
The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:
Twelve-year-old Hannah — who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness– wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.
Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.
Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.
And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.
They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.
Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.
First off I want to say that the cover is really cool. I like it a lot. The book itself I’m torn on a bit. I rate it a three but other people might like it more than I did. Because the plot was great. The writing was great. There were no flaws there. Everything was fast-paced and laid out well. The plot is coherent with no overly long exposition parts.
It’s written in present-tense which I don’t particularly care for but I can say for certainty that the author maintains it well. There are no lapses into other tenses. The pacing is very tight and fast. The plot is very involving. Even with my issues with it I was very interested in it. I do wish there was a bit more of background in a couple of parts though because it sometimes feels like the author would be writing, have a cool idea and pop it in without much to explain it or back it up.
The dialogue, for the most part, is realistic except for a few digressions into what felt like the author’s personal ideas. There’s a small delving into a rant along the lines of “there is no God so don’t wait for your Sky Daddy to save you”. But it meshes a little uneasily with the rest of the book’s plot of good vs. evil. They say they work for the light and there seems to be an actual Hell so…it sits uneasily side by side.
For all of the parts I did love about The Dark Net I did have a few issues with it. These things might not be an issue for anyone else so I don’t want to rate it extremely low because I did love the plot and the writing was very good.
The first issue, for me, was the people. I loved Sarin and Juniper. I liked Hannah, mostly. I loathed Lela’s character, though. Maybe we’re not supposed to like her but the way she is written it feels like we’re supposed to think of her as this career-driven woman and a great reporter. A great reporter who constantly farms out other people to find out information for her and doesn’t even say thank you for it. A character who also, in the middle of some bad stuff going down, takes the time to tell someone “You don’t tell me what to do, intern. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t even know about it.” It also felt like her role as a technophobe is just so the book can explain the actual Dark Net to people who might not know what it is. She also misses some huge stuff that you would think a ‘great reporter’ would have scooped up on. I’ve had this kind of problem connecting with certain characters before. I don’t like rude people and when they have a lot of other negative traits piled on top of that it really doesn’t make me care about them. At all.
The Dark Net also has some things that feel familiar from other things but I don’t want to taint others’ opinions of it. All in all it was a fast read and others may enjoy it more than I did. Other people might be able to look past the characters and just enjoy the story. A character doesn’t have to be extremely likable and relevant to me to be able to enjoy the book but when I’m grinding my teeth every time that particular character is on the page then there’s a problem between me and that character.