— Amy Pan
Dark Inside is a mediocre dystopian novel that mainly consists of three actions: scream, flee, and hide. It’s quite repetitive, filled with ‘wash, rinse, repeat’ cycles, and lacks character empathy. Personally, what rescued this book from receiving a very negative review is the fast-paced action, the heart-pounding adventure, and the element of creepiness and gore that compels the reader to continue flipping the pages.
Set in post-apocalyptic North America, Roberts takes readers to Vancouver, Seattle, and Connecticut, all places ravaged by an evil darkness that is triggered after a worldwide series of severe earthquakes. 90% of the novel is focused basically on the four main characters fleeing from what the survivors dub as ‘The Baggers’, semi-conscious creatures that were formerly human. It is, very simply, just our four lead characters going through the same motions of surviving by running and miraculously finding shelter that The Baggers seemingly cannot reach.
The POVs also caused some confusion. Every so often, the book would stop in its tracks and another mysterious perspective, called ‘Nothing’, would appear and remind me of the voice of the darkness in Michael Grant’s ‘Gone’ series. Unfortunately, I am still unclear as to whom ‘Nothing’ is, as the book never hinted or told readers anything about it, leading me to think that it’s nothing except for a distraction.
I’m not enthusiastic about the multiple perspectives either. In my opinion, the characters’ voices aren’t distinct enough to allow four different POVs to work. I could only tell them apart by their previous actions and who their companions were; I was clueless in regards to personality.
With that being said, Dark Inside isn’t only a novel full of aspects for me to complain about. Roberts expressed the idea of humanity’s darkest thoughts conquering the good in a very effective way, and I still find the explanation of human capacity for evil truly terrifying. Dark Inside is frightening not only in the sense that there are psychotic creatures biting your heels, but because it’s about humanity unleashing their own evil upon the only world they’ve ever known. Throughout the book, Roberts had me wondering how something like this is potentially possible. This is not a story that builds a new world out of the rubble of the old, but rather tells the story of how our current world crumbles at the tips of our fingers, just out of our reach.
Overall, though Dark Inside is a cycle of repetition and confusion, it’s effective in a way that gets readers thinking of what humans are capable of. I recommend this novel to action lovers, and to anyone looking for a quick read. Dark Inside isn’t magnificent, but it deserves 3 stars for a fantastic concept and chilling premise.