Stranger Things is perhaps one of Netflix’s greatest creations, which is saying a lot. Plenty of excellent shows have come from the streaming giant, but there’s something magical and nostalgic about the series. When Stranger Things returned for its 2-part fourth season, I and the rest of the world fell in love with Eddie Munson, leader of the Hellfire Club. Joseph Quinn brought the larger-than-life high school rock star with a wicked side, who was a highlight of the most recent season, if not the entire series. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that a new Stranger Things novel, Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus puts Eddie in the spotlight.
Written by Caitlin Schneiderhan (who’s written for the series as well), Flight of Icarus veers away from the supernatural genre of its source material, telling a human story of such an iconic character. This is an origin story of sorts for Eddie Munson, exploring who he was two years before the events of season 4 of Stranger Things. Who is Eddie Munson is at the core of Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus, with a narrative that explores one of the darkest moments in his life, and how someone finds hope in a hopeless place. If you love Eddie as much as I do, then this is the perfect novel for you to pick up as winter begins to set in. Continue on for more on Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Penguin Random House for the purpose of this review. Warning: spoilers and impressions from Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus are below!]
From outcast to rockstar in this new Stranger Things novel
As stated above, Flight of Icarus takes place about two years prior to the events of Season 4 of the Netflix series. It slides in sometime after the first season when Will (Noah Schnapp) returns from the Upside-Down and the town of Hawkins Indiana seemingly returns to normal. The events of Will’s disappearance and eventual return to Hawkins are mentioned in passing, but for the majority of the story, it’s set to the wayside.
Flight of Icarus is Eddie’s story and as a result, doesn’t factor into the wider Stranger Things narrative. Instead, we get the personal story of his life (within the snapshot that the novel is exploring) and how he becomes the loveable doofus we see in the Netflix series. As the novel begins, we see an Eddie that we’re familiar with, snarky, always in some kind of trouble with authority, and a lover of Dungeons & Dragons. And of course, he’s a fantastic guitar player in the garage band Corroded Coffin.
But behind this free-wheeling persona at school and among his friends, there’s a darker reality to Eddie’s life. Specifically his home life. Having lost his mother, a shining star in his life, his family fell apart. He seeks the validation of an absent father, who comes and goes in his life, taking off as the wind blows.
So when an opportunity comes into the bar he works at, Eddie can’t wait to jump at the chance. Paige is intoxicating in all the right ways and her chance encounter brings about freedom from Hawkins and the trap that small-town America has on people. However, he’s going to need some help raising funds to leave. Which brings him back to his father. Can Eddie walk away from Hawkins, finally achieving his goal of becoming a rockstar? Or will he fall victim to his father’s actions? All that in more in Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus.
The positives and negatives of Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus
If there’s one reason that you should read this novel, it’s for Eddie Munson. Schneiderhan clearly understands the character and delivers a strong chapter in his life and journey to season 4. From the witty one-liners to the determined protector of his friends, Flight of Icarus perfectly captures who Eddie is and what makes him such an interesting person. There wasn’t a moment I was bored while reading the novel, because Eddie is just so completely engaging internally and in his environment.
It also offered a unique look into the psyche and family life of Eddie that the show didn’t have time to dive into. This exploration helps to enhance an already well-developed character, which made me love Eddie even more. Your heart breaks for him many times throughout the novel, as you see him navigate a very real world of issues. You’re rooting for him and his father to have a good relationship, but you can feel it leading to the inevitable.
Speaking of the inevitable, there is a sense of that that looms over this novel. We know where Eddie is headed. We know what his life is like when we meet him at the beginning of season 4 and eventually where he ends up at the end of the season. Because of that, Flight of Icarus has no stakes. We the readers know that Eddie can’t set off to California and become a rockstar. We know that he doesn’t end up with Paige or leaving Hawkins for good. As a result, none of the chapter cliffhangers meant to up the tension, mean much of anything. Because of these, part of the book comes off hollow. That’s easily made up for with Eddie, as well as the growth you witness in him because of his father’s actions.
Fans of Stranger Things who are looking for something in the same supernatural genre might be incredibly disappointed as well. This is not a horror novel, there aren’t any elements of supernatural happenings. Instead, you get a very focused look into one of the characters and how he’s come to be the hero we came to love. I loved that take on the character, so for me, Flight of Icarus is an absolute win.
Overall thoughts of Flight of Icarus
If you’re looking for a new book set in the world of a beloved Netflix universe, this is the perfect novel for you to read. While the stakes of the book are nearly absent for those who watch the series, the journey in this novel is the emotional one that Eddie goes on. And let me tell you, it’s totally worth it.
If this book is any gauge for which to judge the other five books, I think it’s safe to say that the novels within the Stranger Things universe are excellent choices. So don’t sleep on Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus, because every page is an exciting thrill ride that you truly don’t want to miss out on.
My Rating: 8/10
Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus by Caitlin Schneiderhan is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on reading this novel!