Trigger warning – this book contains extreme violence, speculative demonology, worryingly possible future scenarios, strong language, and lots of things I thoroughly disapprove of.
An edited version of this post appears at Christian Today.
One of the dangers of being the sort of person who reads books and has friends is that when a friend writes a book they have an expectation that a) you’ll read their book, b) you’ll review their book and c) you’ll recommend their book. The friend in question is Matt Adcock, known in the seedy underbelly of the Christian world as a Machiavellian comms genius, gamer and film reviewer. He used to work at LST where I think he absorbed some theological language and also had a long enough commute to read/watch a vast amount of things.
Complete darkness is his first novel. As someone who reads a lot of military science fiction I’m not squeamish but some of the violence, which occasionally reaches Old Testament levels (think Ehud, or perhaps Joshua) in this book did make my stomach churn. I was also shocked and nearly appalled by the treatment of people – if you don’t like Game of Thrones, then this is worse. But is that extreme darkness all there is to this book? Is that all there is to Matt’s twisted universe?
Not at all. Probably the most interesting aspect of Complete Darkness is the interplay of science, market forces, and religion. It’s quite difficult to explain without reading the book, but basically the future sketched out is one where all religions are rolled into one – a kind of worst-case-scenario of the contemporary ecumenical movement. This shapes the characters in different ways – from the villain to the anti-hero, and most people in between. Skirting around the edges of these themes are mind-altering drugs, the insanity of creating a clone of men’s perfect woman, and some hilarious (As in, I snorted out loud on the bus, prompting strange looks) usage of technology and wordplay.
I think complete darkness is a creative introduction to a genuinely interesting alternate universe. If you don’t like sci fi, action or post-apocalyptic writing, you’ll struggle to get anything out of it. But if, like me, you do, you might see beyond the brash, comic-book level (think Deadpool unhinged rather than Marvel) of violence there is intelligent world-building here, some genuinely clever mechanics and characters, and a flawed hero who is certainly interesting enough to me to want to read more about him.
Matt’s a big boy so he probably won’t mind me writing that I can’t in good conscience recommend this book to anyone squeamish, or arguably in possession of a fully-functioning conscience. That said, i will definitely be reading the sequels. When the inevitable tv adaptation comes out, I’ll probably watch it from behind the sofa. Unless it all comes true, in which case, ‘I’ll be damned’.
If this post has piqued your interest, or you are outraged that I’m writing about such things, then you may find the following helpful:
- My review of a book on The Walking Dead (a very violent tv show) and the gospel.
- A post about the image of God and the reality of pain.
- A review of a book engaging gently with the problem of evil.