Monday, July 11, 2011

Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Title/Author: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene.

Genre: Horror.

Publisher: I'm leaving out the publisher in support of Brian Keene's issues with them.  To find out more information, visit his blog HERE.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Christy.

Favorite quote: “The pain was like a kiss.” ~Robbie.

All in all: Slow but had some interesting aspects.

Synopsis: One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia, woke up to find the rest of the world gone. Just . . . gone. Surrounding their town was a wall of inky darkness, plummeting Walden into permanent night. Nothing can get in - not light, not people, not even electricity, radio, TV, internet, food, or water. And nothing can get out. No one who dared to penetrate the mysterious barrier has ever been seen again. Only their screams were heard. But for some, the darkness is not the worst of their fears. Driven mad by thirst, hunger, and perpetual night, the residents of Walden are ready to explode. The last few sane prisoners of this small town must prepare a final stand against their neighbors, themselves, and something even worse . . . something out there . . . in the darkness. ~Product Description.

My Thoughts: I hate it when I like an author and their book doesn't really work for me.  I met Brian Keene at a convention and he is very kind and approachable. I also love reading his blog and I like the fact that he really takes a stand for author’s rights when they are being treated unfairly by publishing companies. And he’s Brian Keene! A giant in the horror fiction genre!  But, unfortunately, I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to.

One of the things I did like about this novel was that it is almost conversational. It’s an account, a journal, written by the main character, Robbie, describing what happens when "the darkness" came to town. However, there is a lot of telling and I felt slowed down by the play by play.  I also have mixed emotions about Robbie. I don't know if the author intended this, but I feel he is kind of a bully. To me, he seems to think that only his ideas and opinions are correct. On the other hand, I've met people like this so he is realistic.  I would have also liked to have seen a lot of other characters come to life a bit more. Yes, they revealed some details about themselves, but it didn’t make me feel any closer to them.  To play devil's advocate, since this is a first person account, the reader always has to be aware of unreliable narrators.  Maybe this is just the way that Robbie saw and described everyone in his life. 

I did like “T” and his gang because they were funny and I also liked Christie, Robbie’s girlfriend, to a point. I feel that she reacted in a way that many people would -she practically lost hope.  To cope she lies for selfish reasons and this makes her interesting.

It is a horrific situation and very emotional, but while a lot of horrible things were observed, I still didn’t feel close to it. Besides a few pro-active events that Robbie and his friends participate in, the book is mostly about how they are locked inside their apartment trying to conserve food and water,  wondering how long it will be before they starve to death. It is scary because it is uncomfortable, harsh and society totally breaks down, but I still felt an arm’s length away from it. Or maybe, I just wasn’t invested enough in Robbie to fear for his and Christie’s safety.

I do know that Keene has an underlying mythology threading throughout his books. From what I understand, it's a world that overlaps ours and causes the horrific situations in his novels.  So, on one hand, this mythology plays into this story and works with it.  Even if the reader didn't know about this mythology Keene intends for his novels to be complete stand alones.  Another aspect I thought interesting is that the physical darkness of course brings on the emotional darkness; the darkness inside of people. It is a good commentary on the nature of what "darkness" is and what is inside humans and their fears.  I feel that maybe the story could have explored this theme a bit more.  Also, when one character started talking about alternate dimensions, planets, solar systems and heaven and hell and string theory it became a little convoluted for me. Then, just when I thought that this might be where the plot was going, nothing more was mentioned.  I understand that this relates to the mythology, and perhaps it is explored to give readers a taste, but it confused me. 

I would have liked to have gotten to know Robbie better and I would have liked to have seen more action. However, I think that Brian Keene fans and horror fans may want to read this and judge for themselves.    My experience with this book will not deter me from checking out his other books.

Afterthoughts: After I wrote this, I checked out Amazon and Goodreads and there are quite a few mixed feelings and interesting reviews that bring up some good points.  I do feel a bit more validated in my opinion and more secure that Mr. Keene won't only come after me and make me fodder for a future horror story.



Missie, The Unread Reader said...

Oh Pam. I feel the same. It is extremely hard when you really like the author but something about their work didn't work for you. But it is good to feel justified in your thoughts about something you care so much about.

I just checked out Mr. Keene's blog. Super fun! Now I have a feeling I'll be visiting often. And I think it would be kind of cool to be in a story, even if it is a horror story that has you meeting your ultimate doom. I'd be down with that. LOL

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