Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: Hell.com

There's no point in denying it: as he advances in his career, Patrick Senécal, a novelist who is often compared to Stephen King, masters more and more his style. In fact, one can look back on Senécal's brilliant career and daresay that his previous novels were a warm up.


Daniel Saul is the CEO of a real estate company and one of the wealthiest businessmen in North America. He's in his early forties, beautiful, tough and intelligent. Besides, Daniel is ruthless against people he regards as "losers" and his competitors. One day, Martin Charron, a freelance investor and former schoolmate, proposes him to become a member of Hell.com, a secret and criminal website that allows its members to do everything they wish in real life. Obviously, Daniel feels that he can't refuse Martin's offer because he considers himself as one of the world's most powerful people. However, as Daniel's curiosity leads him to take part in more and more different activities offered by Hell.com, his life is starting to be full of problems.

As you flip the first pages of Patrick Senécal's latest novel, you somehow want to hate it. Just like in Le vide (which was superb), the leading character of Hell.com is nothing but a caricature of a businessman. As it's suggested in the story, Daniel is not a law-abiding businessman (hint! hint!). He has no empathy for homeless or poor people. He has a relatively aristocratic conception of society in that it has castes. Moreover, he's convinced that his son, Simon, will follow his steps by becoming the next CEO of Saul Inc, Daniel's company.

However, as we go further in the story, Senécal offers a somehow insightful exploration of what it means to search for power. In fact, the website Hell.com is a metaphor that pushes Daniel to see the society as hell. In fact, in this society, Daniel sees himself (along with the other members) as a "devil" who wants more power. While the story efficiently frightens us with the most terrifying myths about Internet, Senécal wonders through his story if a powerful man like Daniel will notice that his search for pleasure and power through Hell.com will make him fall into dementia.

As a result of that, Senécal's latest novel is definitely his best (followed by Les sept jours du talion). Where will Senécal go for his next novel?

Rating: 4/5


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