So I’ve been wanting to read some of Dean Koontz’s books for a while now, having heard good things about many of the novels that he’s written. So on my last trip to Barnes & Noble I found where his books were at, read the synopsis on the back of a few of them, and ended up buying this one. Apparently that was a mistake.
The main character of the book is Ryan Perry, a 34 year old internet millionaire who seemingly has everything going for him in life, except of course for a decent – or consistent – personality. There was really nothing about Ryan that makes him memorable, and if you ask me in 3 months what the main character of this novel’s name is I doubt that I’ll be able to tell you. The most memorable thing about him is how he completely flipped his personality about half way through the book. None of the other characters in this book are all that memorable either, and I’m not even going to bother mentioning them here.
Present day, mostly in California but also takes place in Las Vegas and Denver.
The synopsis on the back of the book got me interested in buying this novel over Koontz’s 20 or so other novels that they had in stock, so I’ll just give that. A year after receiving a heart transplant, Ryan is visited by the spitting image of the donor of his heart. She feels entitled to everything that Ryan has, and is coming to take it from him.
The plot summary is brilliant, unfortunately everything else about this novel is a complete and utter train wreck. Rather than taking place immediately before his transplant, the book starts about 4 months beforehand to show Ryan happily living with his girlfriend. After finding out that he needs a transplant, Ryan immediately does everything in his power to get the best doctors in place so that he can keep living. But once he gets his transplant, we immediately skip to a year later to show that his personality has flipped, and he’s gone from being a very open person to a paranoid recluse.
There are also some very odd plot points throughout the book. Koontz spends a lot of time having Ryan follow a very strange hunch, and then it never plays out for the rest of the novel. Along with that, one of the biggest plot points around which Koontz places the theme of his novel is never mentioned before the reveal in the final few chapters. Without giving spoilers it’s involving the location of his heart transplant, which is never mentioned in the chapters where it talks about him going to get his transplant, trust me, I checked.
Along with those, Koontz beats you over the head with the idea that novels often have subtexts. I don’t have a problem with that, but Koontz talks about it for a decent portion of the novel, then beats you over the head with what he thinks the subtext of this novel is.
I also have to comment on Koontz’s writing style. And considering that this is the first of his novels that I’ve read, I don’t know if it is simply something he did here or if it’s part of his style. He constantly tried very hard to use poetic and flowery language, but the problem is that I could see how hard he was trying, and it comes across as one of the weaknesses of the novel. I also think that someone needs to take Koontz’s thesaurus away, or at least smack him every time he reaches for it.
So what we end up with is a novel with a forgettable main character, a pointless first half that is completely different in tone from the second half of the novel, non-existant foreshadowing of some major plot points, and overdone language.
I’m hoping that this novel is a bump in the road in Koontz’s writing career rather than the norm, and I’m going to check out one or two more books by him to make sure, but for this book by itself, I can’t suggest it to anyone.