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Darkness on the Edge of Town Paperback – January 26, 2010
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Still, it's a story that recycles well. Also, it expands the Labyrinth mythos Keene has worked so long to build up. I think my biggest problem with the story, aside from it being so similar to King's story is that I felt like I'd read every single character in the book (except for Dez) in other stories. Everyone here (again, save Dez) seems like a stock character. And I'm really tired of ebonics, especially in horror. I don't know too many people, even hip hop listeners, who still speak that way since 2005, long before this was published.
All these qualms aside, don't think that I didn't fly threw this book in less than a handful of sittings. Three, to be exact. I have been a Keene fan since Earthworm Gods aka Conqueror Worms and will continue to be long after he's concluded his Labyrinth story cycle. I am not calling Keene an unoriginal hack by any means, and he finishes a manuscript with considerable poise and discipline. I do, however, believe this may be his least original work. All the same, you'll get every bit as much fun out of it as you put into it.
Rather than psychotic sociopaths or the wounded protagonist with a backstory from hell, this tale centers around extremely ordinary characters, and therein lies its charm. It's you and me and everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis who have been trapped inside potentially the last town still standing.
As the darkness taunts and "infects" those residents still living, we see the tragic side of humanity as -- much like real life -- even our heroes are found to be flawed and highly conflicted. Once again, this is another novel with some subtle tie-ins to Lovecraftian fiction, and there was just enough shown to entice rather than drown you in lore.
A stellar novel that's as much social commentary as it is entertaining, as really aren't we all trying to keep the darkness out from the edges of our lives? A definite recommend.
The residents of a small Virgina town find they are cut off from the world. Beyond the town limits is just a wall of darkness. When someone goes into the darkness to investigate, they never come back. There's only the screams. Robbie is a total slacker/weed head who lives with his girlfriend and delivers pizza. His girlfriend is also a total loser as is every one of his neighbors and all the characters in this book. Egad--this is who is responsible for the last of humanity? No wonder we're doomed.
Robbie has a plan to escape but he has to talk the panicking townspeople to agree with his crazy scheme. As a reader, I felt like the crazier Robbie became, the crazier I felt. I was positively deranged by the end, trying to figure out a way to save the town and these people. Most of the book is about residents trying to, and then despairing of, escape from the darkness to find other signs of humanity/society left on Earth.
This book honestly scared my pants off. I couldn't read it a night. I was too creeped out. This book was really scary and it's hard to do scary. It was also very gory and violent with a lot of alcohol, drug and sexual references. I probably won't be reading this author again. The harshness of the language and inappropriate-ness pushed it just past the edge of being a really enjoyable read.
Keene's prose is clean and paced perfectly. His use of words create lasting images in your mind. He's a pro and a great teller of stories. It's a privilege to live in his imagination if only for a few hours.
The Darkness will find a way to reach you, regardless of the medium. I think Brian Keene's question to us is: how will you overcome it when it does?