Brian Keene tones things down a little for his latest novella, School’s Out; a storey suggested to Keene by his son. Keene adds a few extra horror elements to the story but overall the concept was conceived by his boy and all said this is a successful collaboration. This book might have been a disaster, but thankfully the story is very solid and has its fair share of darker moments to satisfy older Keene readers. There is actually quite a nice balance to the book. One imagines It is a difficult task in writing a story that satisfies older readers, whilst at the same time writing a tale that hopefully brings in new (younger) fans, too. School’s Out is an end of days tale. There are no Zombies here (thankfully, from my point-of-view, anyway!) in this story of 8-year-old Alan. Alan wakes one day to find the world is a very different place, a darker more dangerous place. It is a world in which Alan has been left an orphan, he must find a way to survive with limited resources and threats looming on every corner.
School’s Out isn’t particularly groundbreaking but the less-is-more approach to the writing works well and I’m sure younger readers will certainly enjoy seeing this world through Alan’s eyes. The book is really quite charming but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a story purely for young readers. I’m 38 and I really enjoyed it. Children in stories can often irritate but Alan is quite the opposite. He is likeable and doesn’t behave unrealistically. There is emotional depth to the story coming through Alan’s bond with his father. The book gets better and better as the story develops and I thought the ending was on the money.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novella. It has enough character depth, the story is solid and the dark undercurrent makes it suitable for adult readers, too. The future of the Keene name seems to be in pretty good hands.
4/5 tins of beans from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.