The Uncanny Valley
The more government takes control over the everyday person’s life, the more it lends itself to the possibility of a person or group of people becoming more paranoid about that level of control and about how safe they really are. This at least is the thought process of main character, Paul, in S.W. Campbell’s novel The Uncanny Valley. On the outside, Paul appears to be your everyday guy, despite a past that includes being in the Marines, experiencing a failed marriage, and having no contact with his son due to being hooked on meth and spending time in jail. Paul sobers up and starts his life again with Lindsey and his two young daughters, Stone and Rachel. When drugs, booze, and paranoia creep back into Paul’s life through various channels, he decides the safest thing to do is go off the grid and meet his sister, Amy, in Mexico. Lindsey is skeptical of the move, as are some of his friends, but Paul holds firm to his convictions. The closer they get to the border, the further Paul seems to slip from reality. Does the Mexican border hold salvation and true freedom for Paul, or has his delusion become his reality?
Author S.W. Campbell does a fantastic job of taking readers down a spiral of paranoia in The Uncanny Valley. Beginning each chapter with an actual political, governmental, or social event that has happened in the 20th or 21st centuries was a brilliant way to bring the question of how much power is too much power and of what don’t we know to light for readers. As a main character, Paul is relatable not because of his paranoia but rather because of his compassion and love for his family’s well-being. As readers watch his life deteriorate to the point where reality and delusion become blurred, they will be drawn deeper into the story to the very end. An interesting and thought-provoking novel worth a solid five stars.