Publisher: Del Ray
Author: Adam Christopher
Released: May 28th, 2019
I received a copy of Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is the second novel written as a tie in to the Stranger Things Netflix series. Like the first novel (Suspicious Minds) Darkness on the Edge of Town is a prequel. Unlike the first novel, it doesn’t occur in Hawkins. Well, most of it doesn’t at least.
Darkness on the Edge of Town tells the story of Jim Hopper. Everything takes place well before the adventures in the TV series yet. In fact, this happens before Hopper settles back in Hawkins. Before that he was a homicide detective in NYC. Yes, you read that right.
This novel occurs after Hopper’s time in Vietnam, but before his daughter became ill. Just to give you an idea of where this fits in the timeline.
Don’t go into Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town expecting it to read exactly like an episode of Stranger Things. Jim Hopper is there, yes, and there are even cameos from Eleven. But that is the extent of the connection.
This novel could be best described as a procedural crime novel, with hints towards the supernatural (but even then they’re fairly slim, as they would be in any crime novel). If you go into this book expecting a crime drama, I think you’ll enjoy the read. Or if you’re hoping to learn more about Hopper. But if you’re hoping for more along the lines of Stranger Things (or even Suspicious Minds), I think you’ll be disappointed.
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town was a fun read, on the whole. I really enjoyed learning more about Hopper’s past. I knew that he had gone through hell, but I don’t think it really hit me just how much he had actually gone through. So this novel did a great job of reminding me that this character had a life and past well before the events in Hawkins.
I enjoyed seeing Hopper back in the days where he seemed to still be truly invested in doing good. When he still had hopes and dreams for his career. It’s a refreshing change (though one can argue that this spark was reignited for Hopper as the Netflix series went on).
The way they tied Hopper’s past and present was really quite clever. This whole novel was essentially Hopper telling El about his past. Which is cute, when you stop and think about it. Though admittedly sometimes the breaks for El to talk did break the immersion.
The crime elements in this novel were fun and made me realize I should read more along the lines of this plot. I’m not sure if somebody that read a lot of crime novels would love or hate this novel. But I think it held up. My only complaint would be that it got a little meta in places – bringing real life events into the plot and trying to take credit (or blame?) for them.
I really liked Hopper’s partner. In a way I think I would have loved to see the whole novel from her perspective. Okay, not really. I enjoyed Hopper’s side of things. I just mean that she was a really interesting character, and a good mirror for Hopper’s character.
I still maintain that you need to be aware of what type of novel Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is. Because your expectations will set your experience, especially here. So please keep that in mind before picking this one up.