So I’ve just finished reading Five Nights At Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley and there wasn’t a jumpscare to be found. You see, FNAF: The Silver Eyes is based on the popular horror video game series Five Nights at Freddy’s which gained a lot of popularity on YouTube as prominent YouTubers filmed themselves freaking the hell out. Five Nights at Freddy’s (the game) puts you in the shoes of the new nightguard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a Chuck-E-Cheese type joint, where cartoon-like animal animatronics (a bear, a chick, a bunny and a pirate fox) entertain the children and perform on-stage. However, when the sun sets, the animatronics come alive and move about the deserted restaurant of their own free will. You have to keep them at bay by switching the CCTV to different cameras (they will not move if you look at them), whilst conserving power and trying to survive the night. If an animatronic catches you, a jumpscare will happen where they jump up and kill you.
While I’ve never really played much Five Nights at Freddy’s, I am absolutely fascinated by the lore. The story is often hidden in the games and has to be worked at to be discovered. The story of this restaurant is actually very complex, and as each new game comes out, new videos crop up on YouTube trying to puzzle out what is really going on. I love stuff like that, and while I find the jumpscare gameplay of the games to be rather unappealing, I consider myself a fan. So I was very interested to see a FNAF novel just get released out of nowhere (the style of the games too) and I decided to jump in, hoping it would add to the lore of the games.
FNAF: The Silver Eyes is one of the better video game inspired novels I’ve read, managing to entertain me enough throughout. It’s not fantastic at all, with most of the writing being totally unremarkable and it being very predictable for fans, but it does what it sets out to do. And I found myself admiring it for that.
FNAF: The Silver Eyes follows Charlie, a girl who has just returned to her hometown of Hurricane, Utah for the memorial of one of her friends who disappeared years before. She meets up with her friends (the alive ones) and they start to reminisce. Charlie’s father was an inventor and created, what would become, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. With the restaurant now part of a derelict shopping mall, Charlie and her friends decide to go back to Fazbear’s to look around.
The novel is very simple with not much nuance at all, meaning a lot of the character moments fall flat. Charlie is definitely the best character, having the most fleshed out arc. A lot of the other characters seem rather one note. There’s Marla, Jessica, Jason, Carlton, Lamar and John – it just feels overcrowded, and some of these characters just feel too similar to one another. They cannot each have ample time to develop, so I was left not really engaging with them at all. Also, with all the names, it makes the action parts feel like a list (i.e. Jason did this, Carlton did this, and then Jessica did this). I’m not sure why all these characters were needed.
The central story of these characters mourning their friend is laid on a little too thick, but I appreciated something new being added to the FNAF universe – an emotion other than fear. Sadly The Silver Eyes undercuts its own existence by being non-canon. It’s an alternate universe novel meaning absolutely nothing can be taken from it. It’s a shame because I, like most people who pick up this book (I assume), was looking for more lore.
Actually, the prime audience for this novel might be just the audience who would never in a million years read it – people who have no knowledge of FNAF. Setting aside the video game, The Silver Eyes is a serviceable crime novel with a supernatural twist. The reveals would hit harder for someone who didn’t know the nature of the game, and some of the characters would come with no baggage surrounding them. Having absorbed a lot of FNAF lore, there were no surprises for me to find.
It all trundles along fine, until the large, blown out final act which aims to please by letting readers have a front row seat in a restaurant of horrors. However, the description of the action (as previously mentioned) is often overwritten and tedious, meaning I found it hard to wade through it all. The decided lack of deaths also meant I never felt fear for any of the characters.
FNAF: The Silver Eyes felt like a quick thrill, and will probably prove to be extremely forgettable (I give it a week) but it emulates the fear and panic of the games well enough to appeal to fans. The Silver Eyes didn’t risk much at all, and could have been a lot more, but what is there is serviceable enough.
I was also going to make a joke about a YouTuber doing a Let’s Play of this novel.
But someone actually has…
Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes managed to surprise me by being a not-terrible video game tie-in novel. It’s not great, and it’s also rather disappointing by being non canon, but there is enough here to be sufficiently entertained. The final set-pieces are not as fun as they should be, due to boring list-like description and the characters are rather bland, but I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s rather bland ‘popcorn’ reading, but it also never aimed higher than that.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S: THE SILVER EYES by SCOTT CAWTHON and KIRA BREED-WRISLEY