Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

Definition of Hydra. (Entry 1 of 2) 1 : a many-headed serpent or monster in Greek mythology that was slain by Hercules and each head of which when cut off was replaced by two others. 2 not capitalised : a multifarious evil not to be overcome by a single effort.

Hydra is the second book in the Scott King series, the first being the recently read Six Stories. It is however unconnected to Six Stories and can easily be read as a standalone should you wish.Investigative journalist Scott King finds himself drawn to the ‘Macleod Massacre’ involving 21 year old Arla Macleod bludgeoning her family to death four years ago in an unprovoked attack. Convicted and being held in a mental health institution she agrees to speak to King who finds himself thrown in to a dark underworld of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and creepy black-eyed children. King sums the book up perfectly when he states “this is not a whodunnit – we know who dun it. What we don’t know for sure is why.” Six podcasts follow that try to answer that question and we get to witness them all.

Having read both Six Stories and Hydra it is safe to say Wesolowski gets teenagers. The need to fit in, the endless bullying that merely points out how someone else doesn’t fit in. The pain they can inflict, the pain they are dealt. He writes about them so expertly and I really do recommend teenagers (at least older ones) read Hydra. If anything just to show them perspective. All kids act this way, you will grow up, it will get better. Childline promo over!
Wesolowski perfectly caught the atmosphere around the internet games played by Arla. When I was a kid it was Candyman and the Ouija board. You’re sure it isn’t going to work. But! The black-eyed children, the Hanged Man, I could so easily be back at a sleepover in my early teens trying to scare the shit out of my friends who were doing exactly the same to me.
I loved the beginning of Episode Three where Wesolowski described the woman in a burka, unravelling a swing trashed by teenagers so that her small child could use it. I’ve been in that park. I’ve been one of those teenagers and I’ve been that mother. In that town. I’ve escaped in lyrics my parents wouldn’t understand. I’ve obsessed over the right brand of trainers and I got through it. I got through school. I didn’t expect to experience such a roller coaster when reading Hydra but boy did Wesolowski put me through it!
This is the first book I have read that confronts the issue of social media trolls head on. What a many headed serpent that is! I was surprised to read (in Hydra) that the average age of a ‘troll’ is 29. 29! Have we not learnt by that age? Apparently not and as with the capturing of teenage angst Wesolowski handed this brilliantly. Trolls, Podcasts, internet games from Japan – Can this man get any more current??? Yes it is ultra modern, but unlike Six Stories (which was good, don’t misunderstand me) this one really got under my skin. IT’S SO MUCH BETTER!!!!!!! I loved it and am so looking forward to the next in the series: Changeling.
The link for Hydra takes you to The People’s Book Shop, a little independent in Durham.