I absolutely loved The Flesh Statue so I set out with high hopes for In Blackness.I wasn't disappointed-on the contrary, I'd rather say I was...shocked. That's the word.
What I love most about Harper's novels is his writing. It has a sharp edge to it, a bitter aftertaste and a dark foreboding in every word. I loved the almost claustrophobic atmosphere; something dark and dangerous is in the air, literally for years. For 70 or so pages, that is, and that is one thing I didn't really like. There's not much going on in the first half of the book. While it did do a lot for the character build-up and projected the author's ability to write great literary fiction, many times I put it down wondering what this is really all about. There is a lot of reminiscing about what happened that prompted them to move away from Lowery, but for deep into the novel, I didn't find out much, and it was slightly frustrating. I felt that some things were a bit overstretched and too long, not adding much to the main plotline.
But once the action kicked in...holy shit (pardon my French). It was intense, scary, it was mortifying. I caught myself skipping sentences to find out what happens next. A book hasn't scared me like that in ages. There's slaughtering and palpable terror and helplessness. It gave me nightmares for several nights in a row. I kept turning around, half-expecting to see one of those creatures coming to get me.
There seem to be certain recurring motifs in both The Flesh Statue and in Blackness. The social issue, the frustration towards the authorities, the rebellion and resistance after tearing down an old library and building a jail/slaughterhouse instead, and also the doubtful fatherly figure, Busek.
Without giving away too much, the main question is how many human lives are you willing to sacrifice to save your own life. Apparently, the majority of the society and those in charge don't really care. Saline, who is searching for God, gets the answer to the question she asks--there is a God--but it's a God of sold souls, a God that works through bloodthirsty mind-controlling monsters. Apparently, the only God a society like this is able to be subjected to.
In Blackness is a very intelligent book aimed to show the downfall of the human society not just because of extraterrestrial extermination. It already reflects Harper's talent, but I believe that a little editorial work would bring forward the huge potential of this great story.