Posts Tagged ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes’

Well, here we are. The latest Five Nights at Freddy’s novel, The Fourth Closet, was released late last month. I’ve spent the past week reading it, wondering if this is the last novel, if this book contains answers to the events of the previous books and the franchise’s lore as a whole, and wondering just how this volume compares to the previous two books. Since I finished it yesterday, I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on it (and all without being shoved into an animatronic suit, I might add). So now that we’re here, let’s dive into what is likely the last FNAF novel (thought considering this novel was co-written by franchise creator Scott Cawthon, who knows if it’s truly the last?).

So for those of you who don’t know, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game franchise about security guards having to deal with haunted animatronics that try to kill you during your shift at a pizza place (or in the case of the fourth game, someone’s bedroom). Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it has proven immensely successful, spawning several sequels and spin-offs, three novels, a movie in development at Blumhouse Productions (which I wish would go into production already), and thousands of fan-made tribute games. Some of the reasons for the game’s success is its simple yet intense gameplay, as well as its deep and mysterious lore (supposedly the events of the game were caused by a serial killer and the ghosts of his victims, but figuring out what exactly went down and when is a challenge).

I’ve reviewed the first two books, The Silver Eyes and The Twisted Ones, and while I wouldn’t count them among my favorite horror novels, I have found them intriguing enough and similar to slasher movies in book form. And I found Twisted Ones to have improved and fixed many of the issues of Silver Eyes, making for a better novel, so I hoped The Fourth Closet would also improve. Did it? Let’s see.

Fourth Closet takes place about six months after the events of Twisted Ones, and tells the story mainly from the POV of the other main characters, especially series’ protagonist Charlie’s love interest John. At the end of Twisted Ones, Charlie had seemingly died, but in this new volume, we see Charlie returned alive two days later. Or did she? While everyone else is convinced this Charlie is their Charlie, John isn’t so sure. And when kids start disappearing in town again, like they did during the tenure of the original Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, John must gather the gang together again to investigate. But will searching for the truth lead to answers, or will it lead to horrors that the characters never anticipated?

So to start, this novel does show improvement over the previous two. The story and mystery is well-told, and the violence, which there is plenty of, is written to be easy to picture in our heads. I also found a number of surprises in the course of the story that were really surprises, rather than predictable twists, and elevated the story. And of course, we got to see a number of famous animatronics from the franchise, including a few of my favorites. I never mind seeing those guys. And finally, the story ends in a way that I can be satisfied with, especially if Cawthon is intending on writing a trilogy.

Of course, this novel does have some issues, as the others did. For one, the main cast is still flat as boards. Yeah, we get some insight into their thought processes in this book, but it doesn’t really allow us to get to know them as characters. That, and there’s a big reveal about Charlie that isn’t as well-written as it could have been. So while I kind of understand what the reveal is, I’m also a little confused and could use some more information to explain things. I know, Cawthon likes to let fans guess and spin theories with this franchise, but doing the same thing in a novel can seriously backfire on you (believe me, I learned that during one of the drafts of Rose). And trust me, it backfired here.

But on the whole this novel is a decent story, and shows its writers’ desire to learn from past mistakes in order to make sure any addition to the franchise is worth it. On the whole, I’m giving Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet a 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 5. If you recall, I gave the first and second books ratings of 2.6 and 3, respectively, for an average of 3 out of 5 for the trilogy. Average as a whole, but considering the source material  is a video game franchise and that the creator isn’t used to writing prose fiction, average is great. After all, under other creators, it could very well turn into the literary equivalent of the Super Mario Bros. movie. And nobody wants that!

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You may have heard me speak of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game franchise about a haunted pizzeria filled with killer animatronics before on this blog (if you’re unfamiliar with what that is and want a quick lesson to know what I’m talking about, click HERE), including the novel released about two years ago, Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes, that’s part of the franchise’s lore (click HERE for my review of that novel). I find the franchise itself fascinating, though I did not care for the novel that was produced from it, finding it cliched and predictable, as well as poorly edited. So when I heard that a sequel to the novel, Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones, was coming out, I was skeptical. Could this be an improvement? Or would it just be terrible? I decided to get a copy and find out.

And if you’re a huge fan of the franchise or whatever, don’t expect me to delve deeply into the lore and try to figure out the exact mythology of the game. I’ll leave that to the people on the Game Theorists channel on YouTube. No, I’m going to evaluate the novel as a novel: how it was written, if it was scary, how good the plot and the characters are, and what could’ve been fixed or improved. Why? Because that’s what I do here.

So, FNAF: The Twisted Ones takes place not too long after the events of the first novel. Charlie, the protagonist of The Silver Eyes,  is at college learning about robotics and trying to sort out all the things that have happened in her past. However, a series of murders that can only have been caused by the sentient animatronic suits from Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria draws Charlie, as well as her friend Jessica, old flame John, and hometown sheriff Clay into a bizarre nightmare, with more mysteries to uncover and an old enemy out for blood.

Was it any better than the first book?

Well, it did have some improvements. For one thing, The Twisted Ones is edited much better than The Silver Eyes. You can tell that franchise creator Scott Cawthon and writer Kira Breed-Wrisley took their time making sure the grammar, spelling and punctuation was up to scratch, as well as ensuring that the indentation wasn’t all over the place. There was also way more animatronic action, something that was sorely missing from the first book. And I have to admit, the plot was somewhat unpredictable, with the final third–especially the climax–being actually a bit of a whirlwind in how it gripped and held onto you. And there were new elements introduced into the story that actually did shed a little light on the franchise (I won’t go into them here, but observant readers should be able to put the pieces together).

However, there were a number of things I didn’t like about the book. For one, these characters feel even flatter than they did in the first book. In the first, they were just given enough characterization to carry along a slasher movie, but those characters that have come back feel even less like actual people. The exception might be Charlie, but most of her character is fretting over the events of her past rather than getting to know her and see her grow as a character. Speaking of characters, I also found the character of Arty totally unnecessary. He’s introduced as this classmate/friend of Charlie’s and a possible rival to John, but he’s only in about two percent of the story, and he doesn’t contribute anything. If you took him out of the story, it seriously wouldn’t make a difference. I wonder why he was even in the story in the first place.

I also found Charlie’s obsession with her past and her brother coming across as melodramatic. You can have a character affected by a horrible experience that exposes a lot about their past, but here it felt almost corny in how over-the-top the emphasis was. Please, can we scale back on that? Surely there’s more to this character than “Oh, my past is so tragic! I’ll live my life around my dark and horrible past!”

The next book. Hopefully it’s good.

But the biggest thing that I didn’t like was that during one scene about two-thirds of the way through the book, the scene is set in Charlie’s dorm room. A few paragraphs later, however, they’re in the car, and it’s such a sudden transition. How sudden, you ask? Imagine in a Marvel movie, Nick Fury and Captain America are talking in a hangar bay in one frame, and in the next they’re in an open field, but none of the characters notice the change. It’s that sudden, and it’s very sloppy.

Still, The Twisted Ones is a better novel than The Silver Eyes. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving this book a 3.0, an improvement of 0.4. The characters aren’t that interesting and there are problems with the book, but I honestly prefer it. Though you can’t get me to love this series, and I honestly would like Cawthon to stick to video games. Just being honest.

Speaking of which, Cawthon is releasing a new book late next month titled The Freddy Files, which is supposed to go over game mechanics and even answer the complex lore of the series. I might read that, but I honestly don’t know if I want to. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure Cawthon’s going to release a third book in the franchise at some point. Like I said, I wish he wouldn’t, but with any luck, he’ll take another year and a half to release his next book, enough time to improve his next literary venture by another 0.4 or more.

Anything’s possible, especially when killer animatronics are involved.

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.