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For fans of the character, an Eddie Munson prequel book was always going to be a bittersweet offering. After all, many fell fast for Eddie in Stranger Things 4, only for him to meet a harsh death. The figure of Eddie Munson attracted so much love so quickly because his narrative, however short, resonated powerfully with anyone who had ever felt othered in their lives. And conversely, his death brought so much pain because it seemed like an undeserved end for a character who had already survived so much and in whom so many saw themselves. All of this left Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus with a tall order on its hands. Could going backward in Eddie Munson’s story be as satisfying as a much-hoped-for going forward?
The answer is complicated. But mostly, it boils down to the fact Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus by Caitlin Schneiderhan deeply understands what makes Eddie Munson so loved. Although delving into those purely good aspects of Eddie leaves a sting behind given his ending, the novel offers fans more time with their favorite character at his best.
Moved by forces unknown, the first part of the book I read was the acknowledgments. At the very end, author Caitlin Schneiderhan notes, “Thank you to everybody out there who has ever been an Eddie Munson, been saved by an Eddie Munson, or loved an Eddie Munson. You’re not alone.” And ultimately, that is the most powerful summary of this novel I could offer. Despite the balancing act it faced, Flight of Icarus shone because it was a love letter to Eddie, to the way the character has made many feel seen, and to the struggles he survived, which feel so resonant to those facing the same obstacles in reality.
Although a first-person narrative can be a tough sell, in this case, it worked because it brought the reader intimately into Eddie’s world, offering up his thoughts about himself and those around him, his hopes, and his fears, and allowing him to truly be at center. Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus lets readers sit next to Eddie for a time and experience another portion of his life with him. In that way, it let everyone feel less alone.
Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus‘ Plotlines Build Up the Eddie Munson We Know
In a more literal sense, three main plotlines run through Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus. One focuses on Eddie’s backstory and his fraught relationship with his wayward father, Al Munson, who envisions Eddie as his mini-me, at least when convenient. A second features an original character named Paige, who sees Eddie as a rock ‘n roll god and seeks to help him get his big break in music. And a third stars the Hellfire Club and Eddie’s at-the-time best friend named Ronnie, who really just wants Eddie to love himself.
Of the three, the strongest Flight of Icarus plot was the arc between Ronnie and Eddie. Although sadly, this arc was also the shortest of the trio. Ronnie and Eddie’s playful but snarky dynamic gives Eddie a confidant to challenge and check him and offers up that incredible “platonic life partners” dynamic that we don’t see enough of in fiction. It strongly calls to mind the friendship between Robin and Steve. There even seems to be a subtle implication Ronnie is also queer. (Eddie notes that “she didn’t think she’d have a crush on anybody.”) Suffice to say, this friendship definitely leaves fans wondering what mischief the four would have gotten up to in another life.
Meanwhile, the storyline between Eddie and Paige is fun and gives readers a look at an Eddie Munson romance if that’s what they’re into. For me, it was the plot that moved the story forward the least. But it did feature some poetic descriptions by Schneiderhan of Eddie immersing himself in his music which will stay with me. It also lets Eddie see that even a good vision of who he is that isn’t true to himself isn’t right.
Finally, of course, there’s Al Munson. Meeting Eddie’s dad puts an even sharper focus on the hardship Eddie has experienced his whole life. In Hawkins, Al Munson exists as a huge pariah. And Hawkins has tarred and feathered Eddie with the brush of perceptions only his father has earned. This, of course, does heap onto Eddie’s shoulders. But it’s not really the Munson-aversion that hurts the worst. In Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus, we learn Al Munson has been leaving Eddie behind his whole life. And, in a sense, no differently than Hawkins, Eddie’s father can’t truly see Eddie as a person, not unless he needs something from him. There’s more than one scene that will make your heart clench for Eddie, who truly just wants to be loved.
The true throughline of every part of the Flight of Icarus is Eddie Munson learning what it means to be just Eddie Munson and not only squaring with that but celebrating it. Every argument, aspiration, disappointment, and joy in the novel steps him closer to figuring out that Eddie being happy with Eddie is the most crucial success of all. And that’s exactly the journey we and Eddie deserve to go on.
Stranger Things Cameos in Flight of the Icarus
When it comes to Stranger Things cameos beyond Eddie Munson, fans can expect some treats. It’s clear that Flight of Icarus saw at least a portion of what the internet was asking for. HellCheer fans get an extended and emotional memory of Eddie and Chrissy meeting at the school talent show, cementing headcanons for how their friendship and romance could have blossomed. Wayne Munson appears as the father figure that Eddie sorely needs, a true voice of love in Eddie’s life who encourages him, more than anyone, to just be himself. Reefer Rick has some jovial and hilarious moments as Stranger Things gives us the origin story of Eddie’s business ventures. Gareth and Jeff get more flesh on their bones. The cherry on top is Will Byers and Eddie Munson finally getting to meet. (And make one another smile. And talk Dungeons & Dragons, kind of.)
To all my Steddie comrades-in-arms, I am honor-bound to say that although Steve Harrington does not appear in Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus, he is confirmed to not approve of any beating up of freshmen… And the one mention Eddie makes of him does feature an, ehm, interesting body part, so we’ll take it.
Eddie Munson’s Backstory Is Beautiful, but It Hurts Us
Ultimately, getting lost in Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus is an excellent adventure for Eddie Munson fans. But the journey Eddie goes on to embrace himself, the figure he becomes to all the other “freaks” around him, and all the pains, hopes, and dreams we learn he has do converge to make his ultimate death an even tougher pill to swallow. Flight of the Icarus would become that much more of a satisfying origin and backstory for Eddie Munson if we could one day see him triumph in the face of all his naysayers by the simple act of getting to live on. It’s your move, Stranger Things 5.
But, in the meanwhile, Eddie Munson got to live a little longer in our world, and that, we will celebrate.
⭐ (3.75 of 5)