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Book Review: Web of Darkness (Bali Rai)

Publisher: Corgi Children’s

Pages: 432

Release Date: June 5th 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

When the incredibly attractive Benedict befriends Lily online, she is thrilled. He is so much more mature than boys her age and he seems to know exactly how she’s feeling. She finds herself opening up to him, telling him things she wouldn’t tell anybody else.

And she needs someone to confide in more than ever before as a spate of apparent suicides rocks her school – and her group of friends.

But is Benedict the kind, charming person that he seemed to be initially? Lily soon realises that now, with half our lives spent online, you can be found – even if you try to hide . . .

Review:

I won this book in a competition over at Miss Chapter’s Reviews, so big thanks to Georgina and Bali for the copy!

I’d heard about this book after a UKYAChat a few months ago – I can’t remember what the topic was, but I remember requesting recs for books with internet bullying in and this one cropped up a lot. I also got to see Bali Rai talk a little at the UKYAExtravaganza event earlier this month, so when I won one of his books I knew it was this one I wanted to read.

I have to say, this book just sucked me in completely. I sped through the book in a couple of days – I reached the end just as the bus got to work and spent the whole day itching to get back to the last few pages.

I’ll admit to being a little bit skeptical at first. I’m an adult and had a lot of internet safety talks when I was younger, and always thought I would be safe and new better. But this book showed just how easy it is to be sucked it. The characters in the book thought they were above such talks too – they thought they were adult enough and the talks were more appropriate for Year 7s. But when it comes to it, it’s so easy to be careless: a  wrong click here, a friend request there and suddenly you’ve let them in.

It happens this easily for Lily, and you can see why. For someone with low self-esteem, attention from someone like sexy, American model Benedict would be so welcome you wouldn’t ask too many questions. These traits make Lily a really relatable character too: I could see so much of myself as a teenager in her, I had no problem believing in her as a character.

Benedict to me was just a creep, plain and simple – every time he said ‘babe’ I shuddered a little – but I could understand the appeal for someone younger who isn’t used to that kind of attention. It started off innocently enough, but I was glad when things got more intense and Lily started to have doubts. Even though it’s obvious to the reader something isn’t right there, the build up is slow enough to see why Lily isn’t suspicious from the off.

Lily’s story is punctuated by snippets from The Spider, who we gather is the hacker/computer genius. It’s horrible to see how cold blooded he is in his actions, as he doesn’t even flinch when he talks about videos for pedophiles or making teenagers kill themselves. I have to say, I had my thoughts about who he was and was pleased when I was right – I don’t think it’s really obvious, I’m just super suspicious/maybe some kind of genius… 😉 I was wrong about the identity of his colleague, The Other, and that I was pleased about. It was a nice little twist that gave me a surprise at the end.

The ending really shocked me, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Despite the dark tone of the book, I was still expecting a happy ending. I won’t spoil it, but this isn’t a book that wraps things up neatly and gives every character the ending they deserve. In a horrible way, I was pleased. Real life doesn’t always end happily, and this ending suited a book that felt so close to real life.

I enjoyed this book so much, I want to recommend it to everyone, but especially to my younger sisters and people their age, who spend a lot of time on line and might not know the dangers they face. I know it’s probably taught a lot in schools these days, and parents will give their lectures, but I think this book puts it in a way that isn’t preachy but will show exactly what happens when you trust too much online.

4

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