One minute Jake O’Connell is on top of the world with a beautiful family and bright future as a stock broker in New York. The next minute it’s all ripped away when he’s embroiled in a fraud investigation, his childhood friend is murdered and he finds himself on the run. Dodging the FBI and targeted by the mob, Jake is thrown into a Wall Street underworld of cryptocurrencies and autonomous corporations where he discovers a dark secret setting the world on a path to destruction. He must evade the shadowy forces hunting him and find a way to redemption–but the faster he runs, the deeper he becomes entangled in the web that surrounds him. In the end, his only path forward is to return to the ghosts of his past.
This book was… quite something else! It kept me fascinated and on the metaphorical edge of my seat from start to end, and I loved every single bit of it. When it ended, I wanted more, more, more. That much of it was just not enough. It was that kind of book. But how can I recommend it to you?
Let’s see. Are you looking for something that will keep you glued on to the pages until you’ve read the very last word? You’ve got it here. The characters have depth and definition, and the action is jam-packed full of twists and turns, which are the main ingredients for a fascinating and immersive read.
Once you turn the last page, though, this book will leave you thinking well into the night about how tenuous indeed the difference between fact and fiction can be. Mostly, though, you will be thinking about what a twisted and shadowy world we might be building (or allow to be built in our name) just as we speak.
So, what else can recommend this book to you? Easy. Do you like well researched, solidly grounded Sci-fi? You’ve got it here. Sadly and scarily, Darknet presents us with a world that, as Mather explains (providing the links to corroborating evidence), is not so much or any longer fictional, but an everyday and expanding reality.
I think it is a testimony to Mather’s thorough research, as well as evidence of his scientific training, that a reality he begins speculating about as a potential real-life outcome in his study and work subject area turns out, in the relatively short term, to be the very reality we’re living in.
It is this accuracy, and his ability to seamlessly weave bits of our present day into his story, that adds authenticity and such a dimension of plausibility to this book’s narrative. It is so much so that at times we, as readers, as immersed as we are in it, may find ourselves feeling a bit muddled as to where reality ends and fiction begins.
As I read on, I could not help myself but think about the financial crash of 2007-2008, its protagonists and the main events leading to it, something I’m sure was pretty much in Mather’s line of thought as he was writing this book — and that makes this read, with its fidelity to recent world events and scientific and technological developments, let me tell you, quite a chilling one.
As I read through this book, I also kept asking myself how I’d peg it genre-wise: Sci-fi? Yes, definitely. It is a characteristic of Sci-fi that it should make well-informed speculation on how the future will turn out to be in the more or less long-term, and this book does exactly that. It’s just that its speculative time-frame turns out so narrow that its action feels pretty much in the here-and-now.
But there’s more to it than a simple peg into one narrow, pure genre shelf. So, what else is this book? In the end, I settled for classing it also as a thriller, given its “edge-of-he-seat” quality and characteristic fast-paced action — and here I borrow from Wikipedia, whose page on this subject is quite well built, to illustrate and justify my choice: “[t]hrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety“. Matthew Mather does all that in his Darknet: afast-paced and immersive Sci-fi thriller that broaches on a number of disparate but interlinked subject areas, of which AI and social engineering, and the uses we are giving to the technology we invent and develop and to the most cutting edge scientific discoveries, are but three.
Mather’s fiction is not just an entertaining read, though. It is authoritative and quite believable, and has that rare quality of making you think about it and the issues it raises long after you finished reading it; and it is this soundness and factualness that make it a thoroughly immersive and fascinating, if rather scary and puzzling read. At the end of Darknet, Mather advertises his other novel, CyberStorm, which promises more of the same but only better — and I for one cannot wait to read it.
Summing up: if this kind of reading is your cup of tea, then the only thing I can tell you is… go for it: give Darknet a read. I’m quite sure that you won’t regret it and, like me, you will be absolutely riveted by Darknet and Matthew Mather’s creativity.
Genre pegging: Sci-fi triller
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ ♥
Shelves: my favourite books; “Indies”;