Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia, woke to find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable wall of darkness.
My Thoughts: Well, I wanted to like this book a whole lot more than I did.  I really like the idea behind a town that's been cut off from the rest of the world and the breakdown of civilization that occurs as people start losing hope.  I read American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout about a month ago (similar premise of a town cut off from the world around it but with a thirsty vampire as our protagonist) and thought it was fun and quirky.  This book was neither fun nor quirky.  In fact, great swaths of it relied more on shock value imagery than creepy, atmospheric storytelling.

Told in first person, the first half of the book had so many descriptive passages that the plot felt like it was going nowhere fast.  The violence was brutal but, unfortunately, it lacked the impact it could have had if it had come from the slow slide into hopelessness and loss of morality as the townsfolk started to fall apart and crack under the pressure of what they were facing.  By making the darkness a semi-sentient entity who had the ability to affect the actions of the living and turning it into the catalyst for the entire town becoming nearly feral it made the characters less responsible for their actions.  At one point the main character, after trying to throttle his girlfriend to death, repeatedly says that it was the darkness making him do it.  That right there took the fact that he just tried to strangle the one person he cares about in the whole damn town and made it trivial.  Although he felt mild guilt over his actions, he was able to easily pick himself up, dust himself off and move on.  Because IT WASN'T HIM.  Get it?  It was the darkness.

I like horror.  I like apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories.  I like creepy, open-ended endings that make you wonder, but this one never really worked for me.  Not the ending, mind you, but the entire book.  I just feel a little disappointed.  And I keep wondering how terrible the town was smelling with bodies moldering in the streets and people not bathing.  Holy stinking to high heaven, Batman!  That's something I never want to smell.

More books by Brian Keene

Reading challenges: The E-book Challenge, The Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge, The Show Me the Free Challenge (I picked this up as a free Amazon download back before I started my In My Mailbox posts, but it was around September 17, 2010)

1 comment:

  1. That's a shame it didn't have more of an impact. This has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while now, begging me to put down the ereader and give it a chance.