Haterz

By James Gross

Reviewed by SA

The internet; a place where news pours out in abundance and people around the world are connected 24/7.  Haterz is one of those novels that really captures the internet as a snapshot: everything it is now, full of social media drama, twitter wars, the good, the bad, and the reviled. A place where trolls lurk and haters hate, hate, hate. Haven’t you sometimes wished that they would all go away? That they would get what was coming to them? Then get ready for Haterz, a unique novel you cannot possibly put down, a Dexter for every internet addict.

A Summary from Haterz’s Goodreads page Is there someone online who really grates on you? That friend who’s always bragging about their awesome life and endlessly sharing tired memes, and who just doesn’t get jokes? Look at your Twitter feed: don’t you get cross at the endless rage, the thoughtless bigotry and the pleading for celebrity retweets? Meet Dave, a street fundraiser and fan of cat pictures. He’s decided that unfollowing just isn’t enough. He’s determined to make the internet a nicer place, whatever it takes. When he killed his best friend’s girlfriend, he wasn’t planning on changing the world. She was just really annoying on Facebook. But someone saw, and made him an offer. Someone who knows what he’s capable of, and wants to use him to take control of the darkness at the heart of the internet. And now the bodies  (the comment trolls, the sexual predators, the obnoxious pop stars) are starting to mount up…

Oh yes, there will be murder and mayhem, mark my words for it. I have to put the warning here somewhere: yes, there are parts that are absolutely gruesome. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart either, because, well… they are intense. Alright, warning over, let’s get back to the fun.

We have Dave; chugger by day, common internet user with hacking experience, and suddenly, a murderer too. And now, some mysterious group on the internet wants him to keep the momentum going, and take on a few tasks of their own design. Quickly, Dave is caught up in an enormous internet conspiracy with tendrils that reach who knows where. And would you really call him a serial killer if he’s freeing the world of the people he goes after?

You may already have read (or seen) James’ Gross‘ work: he has written Doctor who and Torchwood novels (and radio plays). This really reflects in Haterz, as it seems almost like a TV show in itself. It is a serial novel (fun for a serial killer!) if you want to call it that, with Dave taking on marks and wrapping up missions in an episodic fashion. The challenges slowly become more elaborate and difficult as it goes on, going from minor murders to more difficult missions (such as public humiliation, shedding the truth, delivering sharp messages to the world/the internet as a whole) as time progresses. Each can almost be read as their own, self contained storyline, with the underlying arc of the plot sweeping silently underneath.

What isn’t there to love about a good murder? About deeply flashed out and thought through plans which could or could not work? There was no predictability in the plot – you never see what’s coming around the next corner or twist. It all ramps up to a fantastically exciting ending, which I would not dare spoil. Call it wish fulfillment, because every mark is so incredibly familiar to internet users, from every corner of this crazy place.  Big internet egos with a huge presence online who you just want gone: you have phony charity runners; the deceitful ebook writers;  dangerous teenage fangirls; bloggers, and pirates, and trolls… A bit of a cathartic experience is you ask me.

As twisted as these missions are, you just can’t help but get attached to Dave and see his point of view. A novel truly for the internet age, Haterz is a unique – and amazingly fun – novel to read. I recommend it to anyone who (like me) spends way too much time on the internet, who loves a good murder, and for whom a creative plan can really get the brain going. And TV adaptation would be quite fun if we ever get to see it!

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