The series that shouldn’t be a series: Forever Twilight

Darkness Fallen, the first in the Forever Twilight series, by Peter Crowther is the first in a new series.  But it felt like it should have been the first few chapters in one book, not the first book in a series.

I made the mistake of reading a review by someone else of this book.  Now I can’t find anything original to say.  But I guess that’s fitting since the book too wasn’t very original.  At least not to someone who has read Steven King’s various versions of the end of humanity as we know it (or has seen the TV versions of the same.  Or really, has seen any number of flicks on the SciFi network (and yes, totally off on a tangent, I refuse to use the rebrand of that network since since then, it totally sucks!)).  Not to mention the repetitive nature of the book itself.    The narrative style, where we get the events from different characters, in this case made for a very repetitive book since we got the aftermath of the flash from everyone, we got the sense of desertion after the flash from everyone, we got the realization that everyone else for some reason disappeared when the flash happened – after the flash – from everyone….  See how that gets annoying?

The plot looks like this:  there’s a bright all consuming flash of light and most of the world disappears in that instant.  Except for the few who don’t disappear.  And, with the first character we meet there’s an airplane involved (“The Stand” sound familiar?). We don’t know why they aren’t “taken” but each of them comes to realize that there is something going on and they don’t know what.  Then, 24 hours after the first flash, wham!  There’s another flash and everyone (although I am not sure it is everyone, but it doesn’t really matter, at least not yet) is back.  But they are different.  They are all zombie like.  And, the individuals and small groups of those who weren’t taken the first night slowly come together.  And they slowly discover some weird things about those who have returned (in my head, I dubbed them the “originals” and the “remakes” as far as groups go.  Because remakes are never as good as the originals).

When the book ends, the story is really just beginning.   And after 416 pages, that’s sort of an accomplishment itself.  See, as I see it there are two different types of serials:  those with an overall story arc, but individual stories which are concluded in some way in each book (think Harry Potter) and those which simply march towards the conclusion of the overall story arc (think… Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel).  I prefer series in the former category, but can enjoy a well written series that fits in the later category (hence the reference to the outstanding Flamel series).  Problem is, so many series in the latter category are not well written.

When the character development is all there is and there is no plot, I can’t enjoy it.  There needs to be both.  The plot that existed in this book could be summed up in 3, maybe 4, sentences.  Despite the nature of this type of serial, there needs to be more to the story arc than that.  I can sum it up this way:  there’s a bright light, most people disappear, then they come back zombielike.  I need more!  I need more to make me feel invested in the story so that I come back for the next installment.  Often, character development can make up for the lack of plot development, by having great characters that a reader gets attached to.  Then, I can get pulled into something even if the plot isn’t sufficient.  But here…

…the character development should have been better given how much time we get with each of the few “main” characters.  Ronnie, for instance, is likable, but that is all.  He’s one of the originals.  His inner dialogue was awful, his development started out promising but as soon as the light happened, his development hit a wall.  Then, when we see the other characters, their stories, while different hit the same wall (and some of them never really had much development before that) when the light happened.  And after the light, well, their experiences were just too similar.  It felt very repetitive.  Even the quirkiness of some of the originals – the little girl who is psychic, the resident serial killer, and the multiple personality Sally – were really not all that interesting, nor did they add to the story.  At least not yet.  And since this was really all set up and no plot, no teasers of what is to come, it is hard to look forward to seeing if anything will come of those folks and their uniqueness.

I felt more like I was reading the script for a movie – since so many of the details would be background and all scenery and therefore the 400 pages would be the first 30 minutes of a movie.  But when I pick up 400 pages, I want a story, not a tiny tiny little portion of the beginning of it.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t read this.  It’s just that I would personally prefer to wait until all the installments are published (since this seems to be one of those series that should have just been one long book, but the publishers don’t make enough money (however, not every story should be a serial, no matter how much the publishers may want it to be) that way and since serials seem to be more popular then ever I don’t think we will be seeing an end to them) so I could read them all at once.  There were a few starts to interesting ideas here (the alien influence, the little centipede creatures, the flying cars, and the notion that there might be another light and more changes in the future), so it wasn’t a total waste.  But again, I would wait for other installments and read it all at once.  The cover promises that this is book 1 in the Forever Twilight series.  I don’t know out of how many, but I will wait to read 2 (and any subsequents) until we get the final book in the Forever Twilight series.

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