Review: Web of Darkness by Bali Rai



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 . . .

(via Goodreads)


This book is the absolute best kind of creepy.


One has to admit that it's pretty much impossible to write a thriller about an internet predator and his chokehold on a group of sixteen-year-olds without being creepy. But while everything in this book was pretty much perfect, it was the tension that was handled most masterfully, although to be honest you might expect that from a book taglined "you'll never sleep again". There was a perfect balance of downright horrible chapters (especially those from the point-of-view of Spider, the dark orchestrator) with hopeful teenage interaction just like you'd expect from a bunch of Year 11s helping each other through stuff.

But then there were the characters. They were also absolutely amazing, and the author was really skilled to show them being reeled in without making them seem like naive idiots who didn't know how to keep safe online. Lily, the main character, was probably the least interesting of all of them, and that's saying something.

She's awesome.

I have more than a soft spot for Danny, the self-labelled 'Asian gayboy' (quick shout-out for ethnic and LGBT diversity - Rai's books apparently deal with these issues very realistically, although I've only ever read this one) who wore lime plimsolls with white jeans. Anyone who puts together colour coordinations that brave is a winner in my book. Then there's Tilly, Lily's rhyming best friend who stands up against bullies and basically cares about everyone, and Kane, who I liked precisely because he was so nice (very few boys in YA are really and truly nice).


That said, the Spider was definitely most fascinating out of everyone. It's quite rare to read sections from the villain's point of view when you - and the main character - have no idea of their true identity, and it was morbid, but utterly gripping to see how intoxicated he was by power. Maybe the scariest part was that you could see how easily power can intoxicate.

Oh! And I forgot about believable parents, especially Lily's Mum. She wasn't always completely involved (which makes sense, in that most of the book took place on Facebook chat) but made sense, and dealt with some of the more worrying things that happened in such a strong, careful way.

In short, this book had just the right balance of captivating themes, tense plot and believable, vibrant character to keep me glued to it from start to finish. Plus an ending that will make your skin crawl. Read.

***
In the comments: Was that review a little bit confusing? I've tried as hard as possible to make it clear, but I'm so infatuated with this book that the raving is hard to control. Sorry! Also - if you've read Web of Darkness, what's your opinion? And, Bali Rai experts (come on, I know you exist) which of his books should I read next?

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