After breezing through the David Wong books, it seemed a natural next step to check out his Cracked colleague, Wayne Gladstone. I can’t say I came away from this book with near the excitement or sense of joy.
There’s something lacking, here.
Specifically, the first three quarters of the book leave much to be desired.
In the world of Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, the internet has mysteriously disappeared, leaving the world in, well, pretty much the same state it’s currently in. Ignore the “apocalypse” in the title. This is less The Road and more a weekend with poor internet reception. Internet denizens (netizens?) are now trying to replicate in the real world what they’ve lost from the cyber world. So you have pubs filled with /b/chan trolls trying to create memes with photographs and MS paint. Central Park is filled with “zombies”: people who’ve essentially lost their humanity due to internet-deprivation. That’s essentially all that’s happened. Brief mention is made to an economic recession, but society doesn’t seem too effected by the disappearance of the internet.
The protagonist, Wayne Gladstone, spends much of the novel wandering the streets of New York in a drunken stupor, “looking for the internet”. But all he’s really doing is wandering around talking to various people. He’s joined by his friend, Tobey (who’s existence seems to be solely to crack jokes), and girlfriend, Oz (who had been a “camwhore” but is now just a sexual fantasy brought to life). Interspersed throughout the novel there are brief asides that describe Gladstone’s life pre-Apocalypse. He was married, and they had been trying to have children. These sketches add pathos to an otherwise aimless story.
I don’t want to give too much away about the book, but this story isn’t really about the internet disappearing. Nor is it about an “apocalypse.” There’s a deeper, more poignant story, here. I had the sense of it throughout the novel, but it’s not until the last 50 pages or so that it begins to coalesce in any meaningful way. I even understand why he chose to write it in this manner. I just don’t think it really serviced the point he was making. The last 50 pages bumped this from a 2-star review to a 3.5.
Overall, there was a really good idea here, and I like some of the themes and ideas he’s playing around with. This book was the first in a trilogy, and the second one (Agents of the Internet Apocalypse) is already out. I think I’ll read it – even though I didn’t fully enjoy this book. The poignancy here is masked by irreverence and a certain lack of focus, which left me feeling very disappointing.