I warned in the last article that this was not the best Fazbear Frights book. For the first time, this might be a predominantly negative review. But the reasons are at least interesting to talk about, so let’s get into it.
Part 1: “Blackbird.”
This is the strongest of the stories—though that’s not saying much. It’s also very basic. A character admits they did something sinful and then is tormented by something maybe supernatural and maybe just in their mind. It’s a formula that works fine in these books, and the monster’s at least interesting. It’s got a little of an 80s slasher vibe that makes it memorable enough. However, the way the story handles the main character, his bullying victim, and even his potential girlfriend all has weird energy to it. I’ve not been bullied personally so I can’t speak of how accurately it’s represented, but there’s a lot of strangeness here and uncomfortable/offensive portrayals in the finer details. To my memory, it’s the first time these books have tackled something like this, and I don’t know if I want to see Fazbear Frights try again.
Part 2: “The Real Jake.”
So, regardless of the lore aspects of this story—and how it plays into things—it should not be in this book. Not because it’s a bad story, either. This is remarkably well-written. But what it also is, is one of the most devastatingly sad things I’ve seen put into children’s media. Yes, even more than Bridge to Terabithia. Reading pages and pages of a child realistically slowly dying of a tumor was not what I wanted when I picked up this series. Reading about the parent and the hired caretaker both doing their best to keep his spirits high was equally devastating. I could feel my mood actively dropped by this story, and it would not surprise me if it drove someone to tears. I do think this series can portray grief and anguish and keep its tone as horror fiction for kids. “Coming Home” did that beautifully. But “The Real Jake” is far too in the minutia of death and disease. I say that the gore in these books is not for kids, but this story is heavy and adult in the way a funeral is. Maybe it’s a good thing that kids get exposed to these topics in controlled fiction, but it’s not any bit enjoyable.
Part 3: “Hide and Seek.”
This would also be an okay story for this series if it didn’t feel like “Blackbird” again. And not just in a formulaic way, but even down to certain descriptions of scenes. The monsters are both haunting darkness that exist because of a sin. The difference that makes this one worse is the main makes cartoonishly rash decisions, including self-mutilation. The only interesting thing is his relationship with his older brother, and his inferiority complex because of always losing to him—but even that goes way too far. What I mean is how this spirals into the out-of-nowhere ending. It’s too sudden, too “gotcha” shocking, and seems like gore for gore’s sake. It even undoes the arc that the character was in the middle of and does so with little regard for the reader. It feels like some editor demanded this story have a little more edgy content just so kids can brag about what they’re reading to friends.
So, yeah, that’s Blackbird. Two odd and questionable stories sandwiching one of the most emotionally draining, heartbreaking, and uncomfortably real stories I’ve ever read. If you’re the sort that likes emotional dramas, then you might enjoy the middle one. But the other two are not worth your time outside of quick horror reads. Thankfully, The Cliffs are proving to be a much better horror book, and we can all look forward to that Fazbear Frights review sometime soon.
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