Cawthon, Scott, and Kira Breed-Wrisley. Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2016. Print.
I love my students, but I don’t always understand them.
Some of their fads and interests are mind-boggling to me: SnapChat filters, fidget spinners, bottle flipping, etc. There is one area, however, where my students and I find common ground: our shared love of YouTube.
Because of this interest in YouTube, I was familiar with Five Nights at Freddy’s. I’d watched numerous YouTubers play the video game, screaming and grimacing through the many jump scares. I found the game to be mindless fun, nothing more, so the inclusion of a Five Nights at Freddy’s novel on Amazon’s YA Bestsellers List thoroughly surprised me. It was a nice surprise, though—I knew the book would likely attract reluctant readers and would be a high-interest text. I quickly downloaded The Silver Eyes and hoped nothing would jump out at me.
Protagonist Charlie has early, happy memories of Freddy Fazbear’s, a restaurant owned by her father in Hurricane, Utah. The eatery was a favorite among other local children, and Charlie spent her days snacking on pizza, playing with her friends, and enjoying her father’s creations: a group of singing and dancing animatronic animals. But when Charlie’s friend Michael disappears while at Freddy’s, the location closes and Charlie’s father becomes a suspect and social pariah. After her father commits suicide, Charlie leaves Hurricane with her aunt and does not return for ten years.
It is the anniversary of Michael’s disappearance that brings a teenaged Charlie back to Hurricane where she reunites with her old friends: John, Marla (and Marla’s younger stepbrother, Jason), Jessica, Carlton, and Lamar. The gang decides to reenter Freddy’s, now encased in an abandoned shopping center. Once inside the restaurant, they find the interior unchanged with time. The animatronic animals are still intact, yet more sinister looking and mysterious than before. The group jokes about their uneasiness until Carlton goes missing. They must locate their friend and simultaneously convince law enforcement to take them seriously. Can they trust Dave, a sickly security guard at the shopping center? Will the teens ever learn Michael’s fate? And, what is bringing the animatronics at Freddy’s to life—advanced robotics or something darker?
Just like the video game, The Silver Eyes does a good job building tension and suspense. There is one scene where Carlton is trapped within an animatronic suit (a plight that likely sounds familiar to FNAF fans), and slight movements can cause the machinery within the suit to slice into his body and puncture his organs. Yet, Carlton needs to move closer to a nearby surveillance camera to be seen by his friends. His slow, methodical movements were agonizing and kept me on the edge of my seat.
There were many stylistic choices in The Silver Eyes that bothered me—excessive adverbs and unnecessary details. Most jarring were the occasional shifts in point-of-view. The novel begins in third person limited, and all information is filtered through Charlie’s narrative lens. However, as the story continues, the action is relayed through other characters. The novel would have been stronger had the story remained Charlie’s.
As I predicted, The Silver Eyes would be a smart addition to any middle or high school classroom library. Having recently taught a unit on literary genres, I think reading excerpts from the novel would be a fun way to teach horror elements. This novel shouldn’t replace classic texts by Poe or Stephen King; however, students will likely appreciate the change of material and the acknowledgement of their interests.