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Review – Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town
Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10
  • Writing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Development - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Overall - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
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Summary

Author: Adam Christopher
Book Format: Hardcover
Pages: 418
Release Date: May 28th, 2019

Chief Jim Hopper reveals long-awaited secrets to Eleven about his old life as a police detective in New York City, confronting his past before the events of the hit show Stranger Things.

Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?

Although he’d rather face a horde of demogorgons than talk about his own past, Hopper knows that he can’t deny the truth any longer. And so begins the story of the incident in New York—the last big case before everything changed…

Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.

Soon Hopper is undercover among New York’s notorious street gangs. But just as he’s about to crack the case, a blackout rolls across the boroughs, plunging Hopper into a darkness deeper than any he’s faced before.”

 

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is the second novel tie-in to the Netflix series. That being said, this novel is very different from the Netflix series. Darkness on the Edge of Town follows a story as told by Jim Hopper.

This is the tale of Jim Hopper before he got involved with the events of season one of Stranger Things. This is the story of Jim Hopper’s time spent as a homicide detective in New York City. Yes, you read that one right.

This novel is set after Hopper’s time in Vietnam, but before Sara became sick. And obviously well before the events of the Netflix series.

So don’t go into this novel expecting something just like Stranger Things. While you will see cameos from Eleven, this story revolves around Hopper and his significantly less supernatural past. I would describe this novel as a procedural crime book, with some minor supernatural elements.

Writing

Stranger Things Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher (May 2019)
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher (May 2019)

Adam Christopher did a brilliant job making Jim Hopper’s past come to life. It’s so easy to forget that his character had seen and done a lot of things before the series we love so much even began. But the truth is that his character has already gone through hell—several different versions of it, in fact.

Thankfully, Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town doesn’t follow some of the more traumatic parts of Hopper’s past. Instead, it focuses on one investigation he was involved in, back during his time in NY. The way they tied his past with his present was pretty clever, all things considered. The story is being told, well, as if it was a story. This whole book is Hopper talking to El about his past. Cute, right?

While it was a clever way to do things, I’ll confess that the occasional jumps back to the present did impact the immersion of the storytelling. There may have been ways around this, but doing any of that might have diminished the effects of having this novel be a tie-in.

Development

The main plot of Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town was pretty interesting, especially if you look at it as a procedural crime novel. Just one that happens to also include characters we know and love. It was great seeing Hopper work, as well as the dynamics of the city at that time.

The pacing was well done, with the exception of the occasional jumps in time that I already mentioned earlier. As the plot itself got more intense, more perspectives were added to the novel. Suddenly we weren’t just hearing the story from Hopper’s side. It was an interesting choice, but it did help with the pacing. And it let us see more of the whole picture.

My biggest complaint about this novel would have to be that it got a little bit meta. This novel pulled in real life events and tried to explain them (by being the cause of those events, that is). I may be in the minority here, but I just don’t like those twists.

Conclusion

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town was brilliant in that it made Hopper’s character feel more real than ever before. It was a fun read, one that was relatively fast-paced. As far as procedural crime novels go, this wasn’t a bad one. It was certainly enhanced by having a character we’re already fond of.

I’d say that this novel could be really enjoyed, as long as you don’t go into it expecting it to be anything like Stranger Things. About all it has in common are the characters. And a minor tie in with some things that could be considered borderline supernatural.


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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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