Now before I start this review, I need to do a little background: Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game series created by game designer Scott Cawthon that follows a security guard trying to survive a week at a haunted pizzeria filled with killer animatronics (yes, that’s what it’s about; read here for a fuller explanation on the game and its popularity). The game has proven extremely popular, spawning three sequels, an upcoming RPG game, a movie that I’m excited about, and was a large part of YouTube’s annual Rewind video this year.

The game’s popularity is due in part to simple gameplay paired with a surprisingly challenging game, terrifying visuals and sounds combining to create a tense atmosphere, and a lore that tons of people have been trying to make sense of and put in a timeline since probably the very first game (seriously, search “FNAF theories” on Google. I’ll wait). And these people were excited to hear that Cawthon had teamed up with a writer to produce a novel based on the games, hoping that it would lead to an explanation.

Unfortunately for them, that’s not the case. While the book is kind of canon according to the creator, it’s kind of like an alternate universe’s version of the story of the games, a retelling of the story in the form of the novel with most of the elements of the games.  It doesn’t actually explain the lore of the games.

That being said, I decided to check the book out anyway. I like the series, I wanted to know if this could be a clue to what the movie could be about, and I like a good scary story. With that in mind, I downloaded it onto my Kindle, and read it all in three days.

So with that background out of the way, what did I think of Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes? Well, I thought it was an average horror story at best. Not too say that it was totally bad, it had some things about it that I liked. I just felt that it didn’t have as much effort put into it as could’ve been put in.

So what’s the book about? FNAF: The Silver Eyes follows Charlie, a young woman who’s father was the owner of the original Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, and who’s returning to her hometown with her childhood friends to confront their pasts with the restaurant. Along the way they find the restaurant, and go in, leading to all sorts of chaos as they awaken the evil sleeping within.

I did like how the author sets up scenes, and the characters other than Charlie have enough personality to them to work for a slasher-style novel. The flashbacks are handled pretty well, and there are ideas here in the story that I liked. The climax is exciting enough, and despite what some theorists and even Cawthon the creator says, I felt like the book answered a lot of questions that I had about the games’ lore and mythology. Those are positive things, in my book (pun totally not intended).

I expected more from a story based around these characters.

However, there was a lot that I didn’t like. For one thing, I don’t get why the teens kept going back to the restaurant. I mean, they went enough that everyone could see it and relive their childhood memories, but why did they go back after that? I didn’t really get it. Not to mention that a lot of elements from the games weren’t present in the book: the animatronics don’t really come to life until much later in the story, which I found weird considering that they’re active from Night 1 in each game, and that the Puppet character from the second game, which a lot of fans of the games love, was noticeably absent from the story. And even if I wasn’t familiar with the games and didn’t have theories about it, the way the story’s told makes certain things obvious (from the moment we meet one character, we just know he’s a bad guy), which took some excitement and scares out of the story. Plus the conclusion felt sort of half-done, like they’d left something out in the final draft. That definitely brought down my enjoyment of the story a little.

There was also some sloppy editing in the story that, as a novelist, I disliked. Indentations at the beginning of paragraphs or even for entire paragraphs vary from paragraph to paragraph, certain scenes or settings aren’t written very well, and at times I found myself aghast at certain things the story left out: for example, at one point a character says he can see the moon, but another character next to him can’t. Why? Is there something in the way? Is it a height issue? It’s never explained. And not too long afterwards, one character hears a music box and tells the others to be quiet. One character says he then hears it too, but we don’t get clued into if the other characters hear it too. Now those are small details, but they are important for good storytelling, and I could not believe those parts weren’t cleaned up during editing.

All in all, I’m giving Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes a 2.6 out of 5. I feel like if maybe Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley, the author he worked with, had maybe spent more time on the story, maybe called in an editor and some beta readers for feedback, the story could’ve been a great horror novel as well as an explanation of the events of the games. As it is, it’s good for demystifying the lore, but if you want more than that you probably won’t get it.

I just hope this isn’t the basis of the movie’s script, because then the movie’s going to suck.

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