Benjamin Percy sounds like a bear, if a bear had a master’s degree in creative writing and knew how to use a computer.That last part gets tricky. Not for the bear, but for Percy. His latest novel is “The Dark Net” and he’s pretty much out to scare everyone from ever using a computer again. Or a smartphone, for that matter. If you have anything that connects to the internet, don’t use it.
If you are reading this on the internet, I’m sorry. It’s all over for you.
A Michael Crichton-esque techno-thriller aligns well with Percy’s popular output so far. “The Dark Net” is his sixth book and fourth novel. “The Dark Net” is the most out-of-touch-with-nature of his four novels – and that is exactly the point. Nature or enhanced versions of it have been frightening under Percy’s pen, but the distance from nature shown in “The Dark Net” is one of its milestones.
The action centers on Portland, Ore., and the only noncity scene takes place behind a restaurant. Otherwise, we get downtown Portland. Of note to book lovers are scenes in Powell’s bookstore in which not all the books make it out OK.
Leaving behind nature and trashing a bookstore must have been hard for Percy to write. But again, it highlights an authorial intent many writers of popular fiction ignore. Grandma said stay out of the woods, and this time Percy listened.
The writers’ mantra of “kill your darlings” is on display as fierce otherworldly creatures chase a reporter through the shelves and stacks at a bookstore with little to no care for the volumes being destroyed.
Blending a variety of influences gave Percy the chance to tell his version of a classic sci-fi/horror story. The machines are malevolent. The people running the machines are watching you and do not have your best interest in mind. There is light and good always fighting against the dark and evil.
Maybe you’ve read it before. But you haven’t read it like Percy can write it. You’ll want to stay inside for this book, but you will also be wary of the blinking lights that are always on, even when you think the machines are off.
“The Dark Net,” by Benjamin Percy, was released Aug. 1 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available through the usual channels for ordering books.
But maybe don’t buy it online.
Tranchell is an author and freelance journalist in Moscow. He is hard at work on a novel and recently began a master’s program at the University of Idaho. What is your favorite techno-thriller? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org.