The Pine Village Apartment Complex is not a happy place. Built in the 1980s, the structure is beginning to crumble. The carpet needs replaced, the paint is peeling, the wood on the playground is rotting, and there is a pest problem. It’s a dump, but for the people that live there, it’s home. The residents are quite diverse; there’s the single mom, the stoners, the weirdo, the veteran, the old cat lady, the newlyweds, and others just struggling to get by. One night, the sounds of crawling roaches and trash eating raccoons are disrupted by the roar of a chainsaw and maniacal laughter. There’s a horde of naked crazies attacking the complex, led by a hideously obese man with a Hello Kitty tattoo.
This full-throttle action ride is actually a beautifully developed character study filtered through the lens of viscera and violence. Readers learn the backstories of the protagonists through short POV chapters centered on what's happening within a specific apartment number...regardless of who’s left behind. This apartment centered structure allows us to follow the action around the complex and assemble an exciting cast of resident survivors. The short chapters with varying points of view created torturous, frenetic tension. Keene’s structure propelled the plot, but his compelling storytelling kept the residents of Pine Village at the heart of the book. By the end, I felt deeply connected to many characters, especially Stephanie, Hannibal, and The Exit. I was excited to learn that The Exit is a character that is in several of Keene’s other works.
I’m so glad I picked up The Complex. Before I had even finished this quick read, I was ordering another Keene title. I'm relatively new to the horror genre, but I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of Brian Keene before! This may get me yelled at, banned or otherwise shunned, but this was as good as most of the Stephen King that I've read. I’m looking forward to diving into Keene’s other works and won’t hesitate to recommend The Complex to horror and mainstream readers alike.
Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.