Review: Troll

Logan Macnair, 250 pgs, Now or Never Publishing,, $19.95

Millennials are the last generation to remember a time before the omnipresence of the internet, but they were also the first to be raised by it. Who in our generation can truthfully say they did not at some point explore at least one of the web’s dark recesses? Troll tells the story of what happens when one never returns from those youthful spelunking expeditions, but instead chooses to live down in the cave with all the bats, snakes and guano. It lets us meditate on what sort of creature might emerge years later with its hand shading its eyes from the blinding sun.

Troll delivers on this ambition on several fronts. The protagonist, Petrol Riley, is a hybrid between Alex Jones and Jordan Peterson if you were to toss in some guy off the street with even the slightest semblance of a conscience. His decision to pursue the dissemination of hate begins as a parody and results in accidental fame he finds impossible to refuse given the only alternatives are to abandon his acting craft altogether or slog away for years for potentially no payoff. This is both believable and relatable in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Where the story somewhat falters is in Petrol’s first-person narration, which occasionally becomes repetitive and a little draining.

The real strength of this novel is how its author leverages other tactics to tell his story. The use of message board logs, epistolary and scripts is compelling, well-researched, and highly entertaining. These sections succeed in honestly depicting how online communities can slide from havens of free speech into hotbeds of hate. More importantly, Macnair succeeds in tackling a serious issue facing our society as we continue to grapple with a situation where major segments of the population can’t agree about the nature of reality. He does so with an impressive level of nuance that elevates this novel above the flood of contemporary fiction that boils down to little more than a sad attempt to say the right thing.


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