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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Koontz’

Adventures in Bookland: Lightning by Dean Koontz

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

This is one of the books that made Koontz’s reputation as a writer of thrillers with a science fiction/horror twist. In this case, it’s that old SF standby, time travel but Koontz wrings every last plot twist out of the trope, working through the ramifications of the idea with a thoroughness and an elan that kept me reading until the early hours of the morning. Not so sure about the reworking of present-day history at the end; that just smacked of authorial wishful thinking. Still, if a writer can’t indulge in some wishful thinking after 350 plus pages of misdirection, narrative switchbacks and plain old adrenaline-fuelled pacy writing, when can he do so? Therefore, on the Koontz-o-meter (which measures the wildly variable writing of Dean Koontz from the excellent [Odd Thomas] to the execrable [Forever Odd]) Lightning ranks high, nearly alongside Odd Thomas.

Adventures in Bookland: Odd Is On Our Side by Dean Koontz

Sunday, June 7th, 2015
Odd Is On Our Side

Odd Is On Our Side

Ah, the pitfalls of being a franchise author. Now, I thought it was simply a matter of chucking out a few half-formed ideas to your writerly minion and then sitting back and counting the royalties as they flow in, while throwing the odd (get it?) groat to your amanuensis but, it turns out, that is not the case at all. So, here you are, Dean Koontz, bestselling author, owner of the best hair transplant this side of Elton John, dog owner and, now, faithful Catholic after a rather dodgy period in your youth when you embraced some distinctly dodgy form of nihilistic transhumanism (I must be one of the few people to have read Koontz’s 1976 novel A Darkness in My Soul which backs up this contention), and now, after working all your life seven days a week turning out four novels a year you think maybe it’s time to sit back, work the kinks out of your typing fingers and let someone else bring in a few of the bucks.

See, you’ve got this bestselling character that your fans have really warmed to – and he’s a bit of a personal favourite too – and your agent mentioned this manga stuff to you a while back and you still remember the sting: ‘What’s more, you don’t even have to write it, Dean. The characters are so strong, they’ll take the strain even if someone else does the writing.’

And you think, ‘Yeah… They are, aren’t they. It’d be kind of interesting to see how someone else sees them – at least till the movie deal comes through. Why not?’

‘Of course, you get script approval, Dean.’

Turns out, that was just as well. Ozzie Boone black? Well, you could live with that, even if it wasn’t how you saw him, but then you read the plot and, yes, it’s yet another mad-fundy-Christian-poisons-trick-or-treaters potboiler. Look, you know potboilers, you’ve stewed enough plots in your time to feed half the homeless in Pico Mundo, and even you wouldn’t stoop that low, even if you weren’t, actually, you know, a Christian rather than someone like, er, Fred Van Lente, who apparently gets all his knowledge of this obscure sect from the more lurid episodes of cop shows and the anthropological investigations of Salon and the Huffington Post.

You take a deep sigh. You run a red line through that particular plotline. You suggest something else and you resolve that, in future, you’ll write your own books. Leave the author farming to Clive Cussler and James Patterson; you’re an honest workman and you resolve to remain so.

Book review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Saint Odd

Saint Odd

There are seven days in the week, seven deadly sins, seven sacraments and seven wonders; and now there is the seventh, and final, book in the series following the adventures, among the living, the dead and the uncertain, of Odd Thomas, fry cook, social commentator and soldier against the end of the world. It’s been an uneven journey, and I sometimes wonder if there were seven books because, well, seven is just the sort of number you want to get to if you make it past three (and seeing how Dean Koontz can seemingly churn out a three hundred page novel every three months, the challenge of the seven must have been near enough irresistible). But despite the rocky road (almost as much for the reader as for Odd himself – while I’ve not had the love of my life shot down, nor had first Elvis and then Sinatra mooning silently around me, Odd didn’t have to read Forever Odd – Koontz is a wildly variable writer, sometimes in the same book, just as often between books), I’ve kept on with Odd and I’m glad I did, even if the last book in the series does not really tie together the strings left hanging by the previous volumes. But then, how could it? With the hints that Koontz was laying on – of apocalypses, a virgin, forever pregnant mother and demonic cults – the only way to fuse everything together was to write, full-on and out there, the novel of the Second Coming. Not surprisingly, and rather wisely, Koontz in the end backed away from that. In the end, Odd returns to his home town and saves it and that, well, is that. Farewell Odd. I’ve enjoyed your company.

 

Book review: Innocence by Dean Koontz

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

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** spoiler alert ** The engine driving this story, and the key to one’s enjoyment of it, is the mystery of the protagonist. Addison Goodheart lives in isolation in the tunnels under New York, and has done so for 18 years, only venturing out in the quietest times of night, or when the city’s normal inhabitants are driven indoors by particularly bad weather. He sequesters himself – as one of the Hidden, and we learn there are, or were, at least two others – because, on seeing him, people try to kill him. The midwife tried to smother him at birth, his own mother came near to killing him and, in the end, banished him from their home because she could bear the sight of him no longer, strangers seeing him, assault and try to murder him, but Addison remains innocent of wrongdoing. So, the question driving the book, and the reader, is why? One’s initial thought is some physical disfigurement, but it quickly becomes apparent that is not the case. I did wonder, as I’d reached near five sixths of the way through the book (which retains Koontz’s normal narrative flair although in retrospect there may have been some authorial handwaving to drive us past some plot points), whether Koontz would simply leave it open; I was beginning to suspect that he’d dug himself a hole from which there was no escape, other than ignoring the fact he was in a hol in the first place. But doing this would have been a complete authorial cop out.
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Book review: Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz

Friday, August 16th, 2013

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** spoiler alert ** Of all the best-selling authors I’ve read, Koontz is the most uneven. Sometimes – for instance in the first volume of this series, Odd Thomas – he can be quite brilliant, taking your breath away with the audacity of his switchbacks and reveals. At other times – say, the second volume, Forever Odd – he can be by-the-numbers ordinary. But even at his worst, Koontz retains a priceless gift, and one that many ‘better’ writers do not match: the ability to make you want to read on, to find out what happens next, to turn the page. Now, as the series has gone on, it has shifted from being about one young man, Odd Thomas, with paranormal abilities to seemingly preparing for the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ! Ambitious, to put it mildly. Unfortunately, a corollary of that is that Odd (it’s written in the first person) spends more time telling the reader about the moral and spiritual decline of contemporary society. Even though I largely agree with this view, it gets tiresome after a while. Besides, it would be better shown than said.

However, once the story kicks in – children abducted by a satanic cult – Koontz’s turbocharger revs up as well, and I flew through the last third of the book. On the positive side, while Koontz’s religiosity can seem a little treacly for my tastes, he sometimes comes up with startlingly vivid insights into the moral and spiritual life, ones which I have tried to take on board. Also on the positive side, it is a book undoubtedly written for the good – and that is no small thing in itself. It’s as if Charles Williams, Inkling, was reborn as a Californian, with less theology but more jokes! So, no classic, but a further step towards – I think – the New Jerusalem!