Jake Conason, the protagonist of DARKNESS IN HIM, is a senior at
(fictional) Jefferson University in St Louis. He's pre-law and the
two biggest things in his life are his relationship with Jordan ---
whom he wants to marry --- and the results of his law school
applications. His three first choices are Stanford, Harvard and
Yale, which gives us some idea of the level at which he is working,
complete with a grade point average near 4.0 and a pending summer
internship at a prestigious New York law firm. Jake's father is a
prominent lawyer in Texas.
Jordan is an art student and they don't always see eye to eye on
Jake's devotion to studying. Jordan is an appealing character and
we understand Jake's attraction; the enigmatic Lindsay is equally
In spite of his determination to keep his grades up, Jake doesn't
let hitting the books distract him from partying. He's a member of
a fraternity, a well-respected senior man and drinking is a huge
part of everyone's life --- and death, as we come to learn
DARKNESS IN HIM is a first-person view into what some would call
the corruption of innocence while others would call it learning to
live as a successful adult in our contemporary society. Granted,
though, Jake takes the learning process to extremes. He finds
himself in a situation that could ruin his future and he handles it
in a way that seems to him the least damaging to his life plans.
Jake is intelligent and attractive. Because we are always hearing
his inner thoughts through the first person narration, his
rationalizing makes sense and, as we read, we are both appalled and
torn with sympathy. This tension is what makes the novel
Andrew Lyons, the author, is apparently young enough to remember
his own college days vividly and he is skilled enough as a writer
to make the story move along in a page-turning sort of way. But
what is most significant about this book and about Lyons's
potential as a novelist is that his background in the television
business shows. (The bio blurb says that he has worked in TV, most
recently as a producer since he graduated from Washington
University in St Louis.) The subject matter of DARKNESS IN HIM, as
uncomfortable as it may be, is hugely significant in today's world.
Lyons needs more skill and polish to his writing, which may come in
time, but he already has the insight to choose a subject that beats
close to the pulse of America's competitive, success-driven heart.
If he continues to choose his subjects so unerringly and
unflinchingly, his future looks bright.
Reviewed by Ava Dianne Day on January 21, 2011