The Social Catalogue Of #Prey – Gil Valle & Bridget Lee
Reviewed by Ben Walker
There’s a long-standing theory which suggests a band’s second or third album is classed as the difficult one. Will their follow-up cement them as a hit machine, or consign them to the annals of history?
In the same way, Gil Valle’s The Social Catalogue of #Prey, co-authored with Bridget Lee, is definitely a difficult one. It’s a sequel to Valle’s solo fiction debut, A Gathering of Evil, where you’re made to witness a similarly audacious kidnapping and suffer alongside the victims. Prepare to have the limits of your stomach tested to the fullest, along with your patience.
Where Gathering suffered from an almost procedural, true crime logbook style, SCOP benefits from a stronger narrative, which I can only guess is thanks to Lee’s helping hand. After a gripping prologue which takes the Human Centipede 2 approach of a fan trying to emulate an atrocity, there’s a quick summary of the first novel’s events before a young girl is targeted by some unsavoury individuals, which is putting it mildly. They never come across as anything more than unfeeling monsters, and even with the occasional attempt to flesh out their backstories, their lack of humanity is where you’ll find most of the horror.
We follow those kidnappers and other interested parties as they use social media to pick out potential victims, hence the title. This is where the book takes a nose-dive into heavy-handed preaching about not sharing too much information online. It reminded me of the moralistic tone shared across early slasher movies, as well as the finger-wagging, eye-rolling propaganda of Reefer Madness. SCOP virtually screams THIS COULD BE YOUR CHILD throughout, even going so far as to throw in a secondary plotline involving a woman who has carefully steered her daughters away from the perils of Facebook et al, to show you how the other half live. That plot dovetails nicely into the main narrative, but even then the story can’t resist nudging you in the ribs, like hey, this was probably the internet’s fault too, right?
From the title and the blurb, I was expecting a kind of extended universe of evil, and the ending of the first novel suggests this too. The dark web is mentioned, along with stylised chatlogs from it, but you get very few glimpses of the people behind the usernames. Gathering worked in part because it exposed the rotten heart of everyday America, reading like an uncensored true crime story, with multiple players across the States itching for a taste of violence. SCOP had the chance to take this concept global, to show a terrifying network of poisonous people, but the only tease of this comes in way too late to be effective. Instead, the story falls back on shockingly dated stereotypes, with Muslim people literally yelling allahu akbar as they joyously contribute to the violence.
That violence is just as savage as the first book, if not more so. Extreme sexual violence accompanies the various dismemberments, decapitations etc, only in a story where hope never shines through, it soon becomes shock for shock’s sake, becoming more like a chore to read through by the end. The first book plays out almost identically, which makes the savagery even harder to put up with, because once again you’re offered no heroes, and no hope. That said, SCOP’s epilogue does offer a suggestion that events will play out differently if a third book ever comes out, but by then the damage has been done.
I don’t see myself coming back for more stories from this world, even if there is a real change of direction. Despite a sprinkling of neat twists and a pinch of subverted expectations, the lazy stereotyping and wasted potential of this follow-up left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
The Social Catalogue Of #Prey
The Social Catalogue Of #Prey is a deep dive into the sinister hi-tech white slave trade where unsuspecting young females are stalked on social media, then stalked in real life and subsequently abducted by snatch squads, chained in basements and sold online to highest bidders to be tortured or even killed–all by way of live-feed video for the sadistic pleasures of other paying customers on the world-wide Dark Web.
In the Age of Social Media, many users feel compelled to post routine details of their lives on FaceBook, Instagram and other such sites. They post selfies, post pics of the plates of food they’re about to devour, they tell you where they’re going, where they’ve been, and countless other humdrum details of their day-to-day lives. Some live their lives on social media, unmindful of the dangers lurking at its darkest edges, never even suspecting that they might be making themselves easy targets for deadly predators-especially young attractive women.
NYPD’s “Cannibal Cop” Gil Valle and co-author Bridget Lee take you inside this shadowy online world and show you how women may be cataloged and auctioned off by the sickest of perverts who ply their trade buying and selling innocent females to be tormented, slaughtered, and sometimes even cooked and eaten.
This brutally realistic novel may change the way you use social media.
The chilling, stand-alone sequel to Gil Valle’s A Gathering Of Evil
You can buy The Social Catalogue Of #Prey from Amazon UK & Amazon US
A horror fan and writer since who knows when, Ben started dabbling in online reviews around 2001. Nowadays he has a booktube channel, which features bizarre book reviews and further nonsense. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably looking at GIFs and eating Mexican food.
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Too bad it let you down. Sure has a great cover.