Books: The City

October 30, 2014

I didn’t even know Dean Koontz had written another novel until I found The City on the “new books” shelves at the library. Naturally I grabbed it, knowing it might be a while before it showed up on the shelves again. Besides, I wanted a good book to take along to the Wee Kirk conference my husband and I go to each October.

It’s a good book, and I enjoyed reading it – Koontz is a good storyteller. But I didn’t find it engrossing like other novels I have read by Koontz. I would read it for a while, then lay it aside and pick up another book. Then after a while I’d go back to it.

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Movies: Odd Thomas

June 11, 2014

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors, and Odd Thomas is one of my favorite books by Koontz. I was surprised, however, to discover that it had been made into a movie. Part of what appeals to me so much about the character of Odd Thomas is his “voice” – the way he tells his story and how he talks about himself and about life. That didn’t seem like it would translate well onto the screen.

But it does, surprisingly well, because the movie allows Odd to narrate the story, rather than just trying to display it through images and action. It’s not the same as the book, of course – a movie adaptation always has to pick and choose and leave out a great deal. But on the whole I think it is very faithful to the book – and I ended up choked up at the end of the movie just as I did at the end of the book.

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Books: Innocence

April 3, 2014

Since I had a gift card for Books-A-Million, I decided to get Dean Koontz’ newest novel, Innocence, for my birthday. Mostly I wait for books I want to be available at the library, but some books I buy, such as his Odd Thomas series. When I read that Innocence was one of his favorite books that he’d written, I thought that was a good enough reason to buy it.

I disagree with this review, which claims that “readers will either love this story or despise it.” It’s a reasonably well-told story, and thought-provoking once you finally learn the secret of what makes people hate Addison Goodheart and those like him. But I don’t know how likely I am to reread it. Now that I know the nature of Addison’s “deformity” what little suspense was there is gone, and the writing is not so impressive that I want to read it just for the way Koontz writes (as I have others of his books).

What is most interesting about the book is Koontz’ idea of people, like Addison, to whom others react with fear, then violent hatred. Even his own mother found it difficult to have him present, and the one person in the city who is his father’s friend can only bear to see him once a year. I wondered what it could be in their faces, especially their eyes, that provoked such a reaction, but the answer turned out to be very different from what the reader expects.

Please note that the rest of this post will be about what Koontz reveals at the end of the novel, so stop here if you haven’t read it and want to without knowing the explanation ahead of time.

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Books: Breathless

October 27, 2012

Can you like a book while being completely disappointed in the ending? Dean Koontz’s endings often seem weak, but on the whole I enjoy his books. The characters and their stories are worth reading, even if the overall plot resolution is less than satisfying.

Breathless, however, seems to need a better ending in order for the whole book to make sense. The suspense was hardly such that I was breathless as I read it. But each of the several subplots not only leads one to expect an explanation to the central mystery, but also demands one in order to make sense of what has gone before.

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Books: Dead and Alive

July 18, 2011

Dead and Alive is another book (see yesterday’s post on The Avenger) that I already knew the outcome of from having read a later book. Unlike with The Avenger, I wasn’t fascinated by the way the author developed the plot to reach the expected conclusion.

The only characters I really enjoyed were Erika Five and Jocko, Victor (Frankenstein) Helios’ tank-produced wife and the troll-like creature that grew in and burst out of another of Victor’s New Race people who was masquerading as a police detective. (All that is told in the first two books of the series.) I knew them as characters from the later book, but in that book they already knew each other well. Here I could see their relationship develop as their own characters develop – both having been independently alive (i.e. out of the tank and out of the detective’s body) only a day or two.

The rest of the book is pretty much showing numerous New Race people going off the rails in one way or another. The replicants¬†of the District Attorney and his wife discover that the most pleasure they’ve ever had is killing members of the Old Race (i.e. human beings) – while running around stark naked. Victor’s housekeeper thinks she’s a character from a movie she watched (she happens to look just like the actress who played that character). Another of Victor’s servants thinks a cantaloupe is a crystal ball telling him the way to happiness.

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Books: Lightning

July 9, 2011

As much as I enjoy reading Dean Koontz’s novels, I haven’t read several of his older books. Those are the ones that gave him his reputation as a writer of horror novels, and I don’t like horror. Suspense is fine, eerie is fine, but I simply don’t find it entertaining to dread what’s coming next.

Lightning was one of those that I had avoided up until this week, based primarily on the title. What word could more perfectly convey the fear that some terrible fate is always waiting to strike, and impossible to avoid? The back cover calls it “Adventure Suspense” (rather than Horror)¬†and gives an idea of the plot, but it wasn’t enough to convince me that I wouldn’t find my stomach tied in knots reading it. One or two of the other Koontz novels have been pretty gruesome, and I don’t like gruesome either.

But I do like Large Print, and I did want another Koontz novel to read. I decided to give Lightning a chance. It has enough chilling moments, especially in the first half, that I chose not to read it close to bedtime. I finally finished it today (avoiding late evening reading meant it took a whole week to finish), and while I wouldn’t call it my favorite Koontz book, it’s up there near the top.

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Books: City of Night

June 13, 2011

If finishing a book quickly is a sign of how much one likes it, I guess I really liked this book. It’s not all that long, so it wasn’t hard to finish in a single day. (And having dropped off my younger son at Boy Scout camp did mean a bit more time to myself in the evening.)

Not surprisingly for a second book in a series, it has a rather unfinished feel to it. A couple of plot lines are tidied up at the end, but the rest remain wide open for resolution in the third book of the series. So far I can say I like Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series better than I initially thought I would, just from seeing the titles in the store. But I’m glad I settled for borrowing them from the library, as I don’t think I’m likely to reread them, as I would some of Koontz’s other novels.

City of Night continues to show how Victor (formerly Frankenstein) Helios’s New Race of beings is deteriorating mentally. The first book showed some of them wanting to die; this book explores why. These people, human in appearance on the outside, and subject to many of the same emotions as human beings, are deprived of free will. They are “born” from tanks, knowing that they exist to serve their maker, Victor Helios, and that they cannot choose otherwise.

Being just as self-aware as human beings, they have as much desire for happiness and meaning to their lives, but are condemned to existence without either. Their bodies, far superior in many ways to those of the “Old Race” (i.e. human beings), will allow them to live for hundreds of years. But in practice, it turns out that about twenty years is the longest they manage to tolerate the fact of their slavery to Victor. Then their “programming” starts to fail in various ways, leading one way or another to the escape they long for (i.e. death).

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