I am a big reader. I love books. I have so many of them, that some of them are stored in tubs in the basement, which is really a bad place for books, but what can I do? I’m out of space. I have an English degree and half of a Master’s degree, so I’ve been expensively and thoroughly trained to analyze literature. The problem is, I’ve found that no one really knows what an author’s intentions were unless they left notes that say the cigar in chapter six is a metaphor for something else. It’s all subjective and opinion based and if you can pull quotes from the text to back your assertions, you can say just about anything you want and no one can prove that you are wrong. As I have matured, that seems to be a waste of time. When it comes right down to it in a practical sense, sometimes people want to know what other people think about books and movies and tv shows etc before they waste their time. I’m going to call these “reviews” opinions, because that is all they are. My opinion.
I love Dean Koontz. I’ve read and own all of his books. I wait with great excitement when one of his books is due to come out because I find them so entertaining; wonderful escapism, a day spent in another world. Generally, his books are a really fast read for me because he doesn’t tend to waste time going off on tangents (vintage Stephen King? HIGH Stephen King?) or being artsy fartsy and losing my attention with unnecessary details about clouds and sky and snow. This book took me, waaaaaait for iiiitttt… three freaking weeks to read. I generally read one of his novels in a day.
We meet a young man who’s name turns out to be Addison Goodheart. Goodheart? Really? Bit ‘o foreshadowing there. Anyway, Addison lives in the tunnels deep under a large city that I’m pretty sure isn’t named, but everyone knows is NYC. He lives there because he was born a freak of nature, who’s appearance inspires violence in anyone who looks at him and because it is impossible to live with him, his mother turns him out into the forest (Hansel and Gretel) at eight years old. He makes his way to the city, meets with peril, meets another freak of nature who takes him under his wing and becomes his adoptive father. They live happily in their Phantom of the Opera-esque hideaway until the father is murdered because of his freakishness. Addison then lives alone for six years until the fateful night the Beast meets his Beauty in what is obviously the New York Public Library. She is beautiful, but also flawed by severe social phobia. Addison is not allowed to touch Gwyneth, Gwyneth is not allowed to look at Addison.
Drama and mystery ensue as the two work through people chasing Gwyneth, hiding Addison’s face, rescuing a girl in a coma, creepy marionettes, a cabal of evil doers who are destroying famous works of western art and driving around in a blizzard. There is a lot of waxing poetic, a lot of “I can’t tell you now” intrigue, with an impending Armageddon thrown in for good measure toward the end. “Who we of the hidden were, what we were, why we ever existed, explained the mystery of music issuing out of the ether.” This quote is on page 287. So after almost three hundred pages of prose along these lines, we still don’t know if this kid is a werewolf, burned, two headed, covered with tumors, possessing extra features or what. NO FREAKING CLUE WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM THIS FAR IN! For me, it was terribly frustrating, irritating even. The vague intrigue goes on till page 295, (give or take depending on your opinion) of a 338 page book. Those last 43 pages are really good and very Dean Koontz. Finished that part in about ten minutes. Those 43 pages made me wish for a sequel believe it or not, but a faster paced, more tightly written one.
Because I love Dean Koontz so much, I’m blaming this on editing. I have never seen one of his books that felt disjointed and kept making me feel like I missed something. I’ll admit it, the blah, blah, blah got so bad I skimmed. I don’t skim. The story has great bones, but the body of the book is so purposely “dreamy” that it almost lost me. My recommendation for this one is to borrow it from a friend or the library, read the last 43 pages and let it go. Find one his oldies like /The Watchers/ or one of the Odd Thomas stories and enjoy Koontz at his best. And DK? I love you, I hope you’re not mad at me; please let me edit your next book, because whoever did this one is not your friend.