If you like intense thrillers…then get ready to go on an emotional roller coaster with The Undernet by J.S. Frankel. This book is definitely not your typical piece of YA fiction!
The story follows the main character, Milt Edwards, who has just completed his final year of high school and is looking forward to the next phase of his life. Indeed, with his girlfriend Robbie and his best friend Simon at his side, he is ready to tackle the world. No longer will he have to worry about the taunts of oversized jocks who enjoy referring to him as “some nerd gamer.” Nope…it was Milt’s time now, and he was going to thrive. Until Simon shows up dead in the most horrific fashion that is!
Things soon take on an even darker turn as the lack of any solid leads in the case by the police lead to Milt deciding to launch his own investigation. The only thing he has to go on is Simon’s last conversation with him about something called the “Undernet.” Indeed, Milt soon finds himself embroiled in a case which involves the police, FBI and the illegal, disturbing worlds of the Darknet and Undernet. What follows is an explosive and very dark and disturbing series of events.
Frankel delivers a very tight and exciting plot. It is literally one of those books which you simply cannot put down. Even though it gets darker and more evil with each passing page, you will be hooked! Frankel is undoubtedly an author who knows how to work his craft.
The theme is based upon the classic good versus evil dilemma. However, that may be a bit too simplistic. In actuality it thoroughly explores the depth which human depravity can sink, and the struggle one must undergo to overcome it.
As for character development, there are a number of characters in the story who are developed very well. Milt himself grows a great deal throughout the book as a result of his experiences and he is accompanied in this growth by his feisty girlfriend Robbie. There are also the FBI characters of Ramon and Caldwell who take secondary roles, but are well developed and described. If I had one suggestion it would be that more time could have been spent developing Simon, and in particular his relationship with Milt. This would in turn easily justify the lengths and sacrifices Milt made to find justice for his friend.
Make no mistake, The Undernet is not a book for the faint of heart. There are actually some very dark and disturbing scenes. As such, the age of those who read it should be carefully considered. While it is still in the YA genre in many respects, I would tend to classify it more in the NA range.
Overall, this is a thrilling and exciting ride which allows the reader to examine the good and evil traits of human nature in a perpetually “on the edge of your seat” manner. 5 creepy stars for this superb story!