Monday, February 22, 2010

REVIEW: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene


One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia woke up to find that the rest of the world was gone. Just...gone. Surrounding their town was a wall of inky darkness, casting Walden into permanent night. Nothing can get in, no light, no people, not even electricity or radio or TV signals. And no one 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 of the residents-turned-prisoners of Walden, even the fear of that unseen death can't keep them from trying to escape this living purgatory.

About the Author
from Wikipedia

Brian Keene was born in 1967. He grew up in both and West Virginia, and many of his books take place in these locales. After graduating high school, he served as a radioman in the U.S. Navy on-board an LPD. After his obligated enlistment ended, Keene worked a variety of jobs before becoming a full-time writer. Among them were stints as a foundry worker, truck driver, data entry clerk, dockworker, telemarketer, customer service representative, repo man, bouncer, disc jockey, salesman, store manager, daycare instructor, custodian, and more. In interviews, he credits this diverse background as the key to the three-dimensional characters that populate his books.

Keene has won two Bram Stoker Awards. One in 2001 for non-fiction Jobs In Hell and one in 2003 for first novel The Rising. He is also the recipient of the 2004 Shocker Award for non-fiction Sympathy for the Devil as well as many small and regional awards. He has been featured in the New York Times, The Village Voice, Publishers Weekly,, The Howard Stern Show, Rue Morgue magazine, Fangoria magazine, and participated in a documentary for the History Channel. David Letterman once based a skit on a party at Keene's home.[2]

In addition to being a prolific writer, Keene is also a popular public speaker, and has been invited to speak at a number of libraries, high schools, bookstores, and conventions. He was also invited to speak at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in 2006 and 2007.

In 2004, The Rising was optioned for film and videogame adaptations. In 2005, City of the Dead was optioned for the same. In 2006, Terminal was optioned for film. Also in 2006, three stories from Keene's Fear of Gravity were adapted in the graphic novel Brian Keene's FEAR. The stories were "Castaways", "Red Wood", and the award-winning "The King, in: Yellow". In 2007, Ghoul was optioned for film. In 2008, the short story "The Ties That Bind" was optioned for film, and it has its world premiere on April 4th, 2009 at the Garden State Film Festival.

In 2004 and 2005, Keene spearheaded a successful Books For Troops program, in which various horror authors supplied free, signed books to American troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Keene was honored for this in 2005 by the 509th Logistics Fuels Flight Squadron based at Whiteman A.F.B. in Missouri.

My Thoughts

Robbie and Christy and the other inhabitants of Walden awake one morning to find that the world has gone dark. It isn't merely a case of the sun going dark, but it seems that there is a blackness-- a darkness-- between them and the rest of the world. There are no stars in the sky to be seen, no breeze to blow, no rain falls, and no can enter town. People can leave town, but the sound of screaming soon follows after they pass through the darkness surrounding the town. The darkness also seems to bring out the worst in people, and soon terror fills the streets.

This is my...fourth, I think...Brian Keene novel. The first, Castaways, I was not impressed with. The second book, The Rising, I loved. The sequel to The Rising, City of the Dead, I enjoyed a little less, but still enjoyed. So I thought I'd give this one a shot, while I wait for Stephen King's Under the Dome to be released in paperback.

First let me say that I've read that this book is not a "rip off" of Under the Dome, and in fact was released as a novella before Under the Dome, but has now been released after expanding the story to stretch it out into a novel.

This story just sort of fell flat with me. I keep finding that I enjoy much of his storytelling until he brings in the 'darkside' and black magic and such. Anyone who has read The Rising and City of the Dead is familiar with Ob, and Ob has a part to play in this book as well. I'm tired of Ob. I don't find him creepy. I find him and the lot of them somewhat lame.

And I'm getting tired of the hopeless tone of Keene's stories. They are dark and bleak and I'm left with little hope when the story is over. That's not what I like. I love a happy ending. An ending of possibilities and good things. An ending with a solid closing (I hate when they leave them open-ended. I don't want to imagine how the story might have ended. I like to be told how it did end.)

So this was one of those stories which started out developing all nice and fat, and then just deflated disappointingly for me.

My Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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