When I decided that I wanted to read some Dean Koontz books a while ago, there were two that I purchased, this book and Your Heart Belongs to Me. I read Your Heart Belongs to Me a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t terribly impressed, and this book didn’t do much better for me.
This book follows the residents of the Pendleton, a very large residence built in the late 1800’s that was split into quite a few condos in the mid 1900’s. Of the 20 or so characters, there were two that actually stood out to me, and it’s probably largely because they’re the two children in the book. Winston (called Winny in the book) is a young boy who reads a lot and is shy around most people. Iris is a young girl who is autistic and also reads a lot. Although those two come to mind first when I think of the characters, there really isn’t much about them that stands out. The only thing that should really stand out is Iris’s autism, but in one of the more tense sections later in the book, she is able to calm down when faced with everything that triggered her panic earlier in the book, completely ruining the point of her having that aspect of her character. The other characters are completely forgettable, and even having just finished the book about an hour ago I don’t think I could list half of their names.
The book is set in 2011 and most of the story takes place in the Pendleton.
On a random day like any other, some very strange things start happening to the residents of the Pendleton. They start seeing apparitions and hearing strange noises. As the book continues, they are transported to a very strange version of the Pendleton where nightmarish monsters are all around. The story of the book is just the people trying to stay alive.
First off, after having now read two of Koontz’s books, I can see that he constantly tries way too hard at creating artistic prose. While he’s trying to sound profound and deep with his language, it comes across as pretentious and extremely overwritten. This is a recent book of his – published in 2011 – and I wonder if Koontz even has an editor anymore, if he does I don’t think he listens to them very much, at least when it comes to sentence level editing.
The idea behind this story is really interesting, but there are several major problems that I have with it. The first is that there are simply too many characters. You don’t have time to get to know any of the characters that well. Because of this they all come across as being very flat. The second is the way that the characters discover what is going on around them. It seems like everything that is going on is something that the characters knew beforehand, so there is very little discovery, and more of the characters simply saying what they already knew. This leads to very poor foreshadowing throughout the book, because there really isn’t any. One of the main parts where you learn what is going on in the story comes from a conversation between two people who aren’t even going through any of the events in the story. They’re two people who live in the Pendleton, but who were out eating while all this was going on and weren’t pulled into the events. The last problem that I have with the book is similar to a problem that I had with Your Heart Belongs to Me. Most of the book makes it seem like there is a supernatural element to the story, but about 80% of the way through the book, he gives it a plausible scientific explanation. The problem with it in this book is that it only covers half of what is going on, the monsters that we see. There is also a time travel element that is left completely unexplained.
After reading two of Koontz’s books, I’m not impressed and probably won’t be looking into any more of his writing.
A decent story idea plagued by forgettable characters, overwritten prose, and poor foreshadowing. I can’t give this book too much of a suggestion.