The Dark Net is a standalone novel by Benjamin Percy, an author that until now was new to me; thus I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up the book. And nothing prepared me for what I was about to read.
Even after reading the blurb and a few Goodreads reviews, I had an entirely different notion of what the book would be compared to what it ended up being.
After the first few chapters, I thought the book would be a novel about … the Dark Net and the illegal tradings going on there (and yes, which internet savvy person wouldn’t want to get a glimpse of the Dark Net? It’s like a shadow world of unlimited possibilities, but only for the bad guys, from which the good guys are locked out).
Later on, I thought the book would turn out to be a horror novel. All the scary elements were there, but still … something didn’t quite add up, and although I was not really in the mood for a horror story, I kept on reading.
And once I passed the half of the book, it all started to make sense. Could it be that the book is, in fact, a well-crafted techno-thriller? Well, yes, it probably is.
Until I got to the end, where another clue made me confront the fact that what I was reading all along was a supernatural thriller mixed with a few other elements that made it transcend genres every now and then.
Throughout it all I had a feeling that the author was not quite sure where to go with the book, which turn to take, which genre to embrace. At times I had a bit of an eerie feeling reading the novel. The end, though, was well worth sticking to, and now I hope that, given the way the book ended, there will be a second story, turning the standalone novel into a series. The last pages definitely left that possibility open.
The main character, a typical technophobe, is a journalist who doesn’t know how to use a computer, send an email, or use a smart phone. She still has her old type of phone in her bag, a detail that will play a major part in the book later on.
In a way the book is her hero’s journey. It’s her waking up from an almost boring, clueless life to become a force of nature, who finds out the purpose of her life through severe trials and tribulations.
The writing itself was well crafted, and I was pretty much on the edge of my seat all the time. I just so happen to like all the genres the author touched in this book, so I was never bored.
Having said that, I can imagine that someone who might not enjoy horror novels, or supernatural thrillers, but only crave for techno-thrillers, might find this book a bit confusing. Or vice-versa. Thankfully for me it was an enjoyable read from start to finish.
I am now curious about some of the author’s previous novels, whether this transition from genre genre is a trait of Benjamin Percy’s writing, or it’s just an attempt at something new with this particular book.
If you notice, I haven’t left any spoilers for this book whatsoever, I kept it all vague. I have read several spoilers on Goodreads, and honestly, nothing made me ready for what I was about to read. In fact, spoilers gave me an expectation for the book, where it turned out that I was reading would completely different.
Thus I figured giving spoilers will just confuse the reader. Trying to explain what the Mirage is, or what Hanna’s powers are, would be as useless as blowing air in the wind. You really have to read the book to fully grasp what the author intended to do with is latest work.