“Haterz” by James Goss

So, this book was odd. Definitely not as odd as the one I read a couple of weeks ago that was narrated by a cow, but it still wasn’t exactly conventional. It’s a convoluted tale about a relatively normal cat-owning guy who gets subtly manipulated into killing people who are annoying on the internet, and/or a threat to the organisation behind the entire plot.

haterz

I picked it up from the library because I spend a lot of time online and also I recently finished editing a novel of mine about assassins, so you know, it’s worth sussing out the comp titles and so on. I’ll say this: Dave is a very different killer to my character Isabel, except perhaps for their cold-bloodedness. You would expect a first-time murderer to be all guilt and complexes, but he settles right into it. Which is… a little unexpected to read, but somewhat refreshing, because it means we avoid the clichés.

The way this book uses the internet is pretty clever and up-to-date — definitely relatable, especially where cats are concerned. Actually, I was a bit worried about that, because the title made me think it was going to be very old-school and cringey, but I think it’s meant to be ironic — it put me off at first as I didn’t know how seriously to take it. While this book is relatively current, referencing internet phenomenons like GamerGate, I think it’ll quickly become outdated, and even as it is it didn’t entirely match my own experiences. I don’t think this is a book that will particularly endure. For five years, maybe. Depends how long Facebook and Twitter continue working the way they currently do. But eventually it’s going to become a relic.

Still, not every book has to be a timeless classic. This is a pretty prescient book about internet hate, although I have to say I’m a bit puzzled about what its message actually is — don’t hate because it leads to murder but it’ll work out in the end? A little confused, perhaps. But there’s plenty in here that’s recognisable as having parallels in the real world, including fake book reviews and unsourced claims about celebrity failures: it doesn’t take too many jumps to figure out which real-time figures inspired Goss. I felt in places a handful of real issues were brushed over through exaggeration, particularly where women and minorities were concerned, but this was more a case of tone than anything else.

As for the characters? Well, Dave was an odd one. A little hard to relate to, because of his somewhat emotionless approach to life and, yunno, casual murder. He has a cat, and the cat was somewhat delightful, but on the whole I didn’t grow particularly attached to any of them and mostly kept reading for the various mysteries and questions that were raised. One of them was, I’m afraid, a confusing let-down — I won’t go into details because of spoilers, but I was hoping for drama and instead got literally nothing. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m referring to. And that abrupt change was never really explained, to be honest.

Anyway. It was a pretty good read and kept me relatively gripped, but I think for someone with less tolerance for cold-blooded killers as narrator (I’m used to them) might find this difficult to enjoy. It’s not especially violent or gory, but it’s just kind of distasteful in places. The writing’s pretty good but nothing phenomenal, you know? So yeah, that would probably be my assessment of the whole book. Good, but not great.

There was a cat in it, though. I need to start a Goodreads shelf for all my books with cats, so that I can keep track of them.

(I have priorities, guys. And those priorities include CATS.)

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me when books have unnecessary love triangles instead of cats

The cat isn’t going to get it any extra stars, though, unless it’s for making it relevant to the internet, because to be perfectly frank, I think the internet would suffer if cats ceased to exist. As would I. Gosh, that would be terrible. I’m upset just thinking about that. ANYWAY. ENOUGH ABOUT CATS. (Hahahaha as if. Find me on Twitter. I retweet cute cats.)

Rating: ***

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