In The Lost Boys (which I reviewed here) we were introduced to the character of Ned Jelli as a 15 and 35-year-old. I had some issues with the content and format of the first book, but was still eager to read the sequel; I wanted to see if Ned Jelli could get his shit together. In Hello Darkness, Ned returns as a 39-year-old. My feelings about him in the first book were mainly of pity, with an ounce of disgust. In the second book, there's a refreshing glimmer of hope. Ned is trying (not completely succeeding) to look after himself, and has distanced himself from the [illegal] drug scene and his friends who are still fully entrenched in that lifestyle. He wants a more purposeful existence. He's searching for Love, and you get the impression he actually wants it, but he just doesn't know how to 'do' Love. He knows that being in a relationship gives him a sense of purpose, security and completion, but he's so scared of being abandoned that he doesn't know how to give. He has an extremely low sense of self and feelings worthlessness. When it looks as though Real Love is knocking on Ned's door, and he is still self-sabotaging, you want to slip him a note that says, "You're not doing as badly as you think, keep going". Ned puts women on a pedestal; that's not to say he treats them like they're special; their pedestals are so high that he makes them unattainable in his mind, and so he gives nothing.
Ned is working as a journalist for the social pages of a major Sydney newspaper. He has his own column, a wad of CabCharge tickets, invitations to endless social functions and a wardrobe full of sharp suits. On paper, Ned is doing alright. The reality of the situation is that he feels stifled, bored and heavily constrained by the political, social and financial chains that are the reality of journalism. He knows that what might outwardly appear as professional success is a farce; he is heavily institutionalised and he feels the ache of the restraints.
Ned seems to be allergic to his corporate environment and he wants to break free. He's scared of the unknown, but he begins to see the beckoning glimmer of Another Option...
Sometimes you have to figure out what doesn't work for you, before you can start to figure out what does.
I really enjoyed this book. The writing style is clever and witty; the plot is compelling. I was half satisfied by the ending; but I'm not going to spoilt it!