With today’s youth consumed by video games and television, it seems unlikely that this generation might take up the habit of reading anything without being forced. The digital age has changed the way many people choose to spend their time. This is something Steven Hall had in mind when writing the bestselling novel, The Raw Shark Texts, published in 2007. The world he creates through the mind of a narrator suffering from psychotropic fugue is somewhere between frightening and comical; attaching a variety of references from modern day culture, ranging from films and television, to music and literature, making his characters and scenarios highly digestible to a vast audience. More so than paying homage to other literature in the past, the book becomes a sort of jambalaya of popular films with tastes of Jurassic Park, Jaws, The Terminator, The Matrix, Memento, Being John Malkovich and maybe even a little Donnie Darko. With that in mind, it seems Hall is onto something brilliant with his incorporation of so much relatable subject matter. Nothing really gives readers a kick more so than the feeling that they have made a connection and found some kind of hidden message or reference to something they were already familiar with.
The novel does go off on its own little crazy tangents about abstract concepts that do not quite make sense, no matter how they are perceived; such as the Mycroft Ward, a character that somehow duplicates himself, transferring his memories and experience from one body to the other; but that is what makes this novel great, it is unique. The protagonist, Eric Sanderson, is a fun and easily identifiable character, and that makes the spontaneity of the story somewhat manageable as he carries his pet cat with him through a somewhat imaginary world of un-space, where empty garages and vacant building comprises the landscape of most of the story. Hall manages the use of his somewhat senseless and at most times lost character to be the perfect narrator in a world where the heroes of the story spend their time fighting off conceptual predatory fish and unseen computer tyrants. All that being said, the concept of the story does not come off as overly ridiculous, with its well-built character contrast and neatly overlaid love stories. The postmodernity of the consistent references to popular culture has made it a best seller, but it is some of the experimental playful styles of incorporating artwork built of text and other artistically presented elements throughout the story is what will keep it in relevant circulation for years to come.