Thursday, 29 September 2011

'Darkness Falling' - Peter Crowther

Darkness Falling sounds a lot like The Body Snatchers when reading the blurb. People go missing only to be replaced by things who look like them, but are obviously not them. Not something I would normally read, but these survivor/horrors can be really good. I'm really thinking of Walking Dead here. Aim high and hope for the best is my motto. Darkness Falling is the first book in a series. Thank you Angry Robot for providing me with a review copy.
It was a typical all-American backwater – until the night the monsters came. 
When four employees of KMRT Radio investigate an unearthly light that cuts off communication with the outside world, they discover that something has taken the place of their friends and fellow townfolk, and imbued them with malign intentions. Little do they know, the phenomenon is not unique to the town of Jesman’s Bend…
The opening chapters very successfully introduced The Event, which changes the world completely for our characters. Then, it all starts feeling very familiar with scattered groups of survivors coming to terms with The Event. We have the usual stages of denial, followed by attempts at explanation. Any chance of things returning to normal is quickly disappearing.

We end up with quite a mixed group of survivors. From young children to an older, somewhat crazy lady. As often is the case with these things, it would have been too easy for all them to get along and just get on with surviving and rebuilding society. It would have been boring, so one of them is a serial killer. The first step is for the groups to be united, and for the weak to be weeded out. Easier said than done, the 'pod people' are intent on stopping any survivors. Stopping as in, dead stop.

I found the 'pod people' in Darkness Falling equally terrifying and absurd. I just realised that it's the cover of the book that really caught my eye. Look at them! Zombies are one thing, but malignant extra terrestrial beings wearing sunglasses? Cracks me up. My first reaction might have been one of humour, and a feeling of it all being rather absurd. Things quickly turn serious and they are fighting for their lives and it gets really exciting. Peter Crowther certainly is capable of building suspense and sending chills down your spine with his writing, there is no doubt about that. It's a shame that it is sometimes ruined by too much introspection by the characters. It's the same problem with Sam Sykes Tome of the Undergates. While in the thick of the melee, don't ruin the pace by having the characters ponder the meaning of life.

The characters are solid and do enough to make you sympathetic, but Peter Crowther can't quite lift them up to the same levels as characters by Guy Adams. They do what they are supposed to, but they feel a bit too templated and not quite unique enough. Usually after reading a book I find myself having at least one favorite character. Someone's whose chapters I really look forward to, and others I don't really care that much about. Tyrion Lannister, from A Game of Thrones, is an example of a favorite character. After Darkness Falling I don't have one.  No one stands out.

It seems like awesome characters is not a necessity for writing a entertaining book. For me the actual idea behind the book and Peter Crowther's execution of it is enough. The first chapters really gripped me, and I found myself thinking 'I did not see that coming!'. Just like with Lost, X-Files and FlashForward the mystery of it all is enough. I kept turning the pages to find some answers, and I will devour the second book in the series to slate my thirst for answers. Mysteries are a like drug, and Darkness Falling makes me want more.

Darkness Falling weighs in at 464 pages and is published by Angry Robot. It's scheduled for release on the 6th of October 2011.

Recommendation: read

1 comment:

  1. Hi Erik,

    Excellent review, you've described it well without giving too much away. I have this on my to-read list and really looking forward to it now.

    Keep up the great work mate.