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The Face: A Novel
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2004
I suppose my problem with The Face isn't one most people share- I found his writing enjoyable and the plot line to be interesting (albeit a bit predictable). The thing is that Koontz chose to write about something he doesn't know anything about- anarchism. Before you go on, I must warn you, I'm a former student of political science that spent a long time studying and writing about anarchism as a political theory, so this might bore alot of you. Clearly, instead of reading anything about a complex political theory, Koontz went with the tired old equation that anarchism=violence and chaos. True anarchist theory is actually more about cooperation and human connection than chaos and destruction. Anyway, I won't go on and on about it- if you want to read more I suggest Post-Scarcity Anarchism by Murray Bookchin or Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman. My point is that I found it disappointing that Koontz decided to write about a political theory without researching it and consequently portrayed it in a misleading fashion. I'm not saying anarchism is what I believe in or necesarrily what is right for society, but it is not the destructive force Koontz makes it out to be. His portrayal is inaccurate and disingenuous at best. Anyway, that's my rant on the subject.
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on April 15, 2012
I have not finished reading this book yet, but I would like to comment on some features I've noticed so far that make it unusual.

One is the language; I find the language in this book very interesting and rich. The way he uses words shows a familiarity with a much wider range of vocabulary than most authors exhibit today, which was much appreciated by this somewhat jaded reader. At the same time the proverbial "ten cent" words were not used in such a way as to obscure the meaning of the sentences or action which I also appreciated.

Editing: I think this book, like many of Stephen King's recent works could do with some more strenuous editing. As much as I love words, there is no need to describe a single noun with three similes when a single word would do.

Politics: One of the most frustrating things is the fact that the author doesn't seem to understand or care about the true meanings of some of the political belief systems represented in the book. Any cursery look in a dictionary could show you that his characterization of Corky Laputa chiefly as an "anarchist" is completely wrong. I don't believe this is because Koontz is not intelligent or well read, but because he wishes to forward a conservative political agenda.

The definition of Anarchism is "a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.[3 Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical[3][9][10] voluntary associations." Anarchists simply believe that government is unnecessary and serves only to benefit those in charge, rather than the people at large. They believe in non-heirarchical forms of political decision making. Anarchists do not believe in "chaos." While popluarly we thing anarchy=chaos, in a political systems viewpoint, anarchists believe the chaos and harm in our society are actually caused by oppressive controlling governments and that to remove government will bring about less suffering and oppression.

The ideas Corky espouses in the book about creating chaos, suffering in other humans and sowing hatred and distrust among people until all society is razed to the ground and then a new order can be established (though this is lightly touched on and Corky focuses more on the "making the world burn" efforts than the designing of a new society) is more characteristic of extreme right Christian fundamentalists who want to "bring the rapture" than anarchists.

A typical anarchist political action is more likely to be along the lines of the activities of Wikileaks or Anonymous hackers who operate under the belief system that "information should be free" and that the government has no right to keep things from the governed. If an anarchist engages in violence, it is typically against targets perceived to be related to oppressive government or corporations they don't like. This usually involves vandalism of public property or violence. They don't seem to delight in sadism or torture of other human beings as seen in the book or just harming random people. Anarchism, although not a practical political system to aspire to in my opinion, still does not = Molloch.

Also the political system Corky's mother supposedly espoused is supposed to be "Marxism" it is not described as Marxism, but rather as something closer to "Objectivism." Basically, that human beings are completely motivated by envy, hate and aquisition and that there is no room for human cooperation in that equation. His mother does exhibit some traits similar to Anne Rand, but as Objectivism is considered a far-right theory of politics, perhaps it serves his purpose better to make the character a Marxist.

Angels: What is up with the angels? As soon as we find out a certain character is a "guardian angel" it feels like a cheat and it makes the story cheesy, as if it is a horrored-up "It's a Wonderful Life." Up until then I was totally with the story, afterward this revelation I separated somewhat. Angels, heaven, hell, all these things seem too contrived for a writer with such obvious intelligence and depth of understanding of the human condition to expect an intelligent reader to take at face value in what is ostensibly a story about a cop, the son of a movie star and an "anarchist." Not to mention the *69 phone connection to hell which is just stupid.

STill, he is a master of suspense and I can't put the book down!
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on July 20, 2006
I WOULD LIKE TO ADDRESS THE REVIEW MADE BY MARY. PERSONALLY I REALLY APPRECIATE SEEING NEW NAMES IN MODERN PAPERBACKS AND I DONT FIND IT ALL THAT UNLIKELY THAT THERE IS A COP OUT THERE SOMEWHERE NAMED ETHAN. AND THE NAME CORKY WAS NOT HIS ACTUAL NAME IF YOU ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE CHARACTER YOU REALIZE THERE IS NO BETTER NAME FOR THE ANTAGONIST. HE HONESTLY BELIEVED HE WAS A GOOD CHEERY PERSON BETTERING THE WORLD SO HE NAMED HIMSELF AS HE SAW FIT. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO ADD THAT J.K. ROWLING COMES UP WITH EVEN WEIRDER NAMES AND YOU DONT SEE HER FANS COMPLAINING, IN FACT, PEOPLE LIKE THE NAMES BECAUSE THEY GO WITH THE WEIRD OUT OF THE WORLD THEME THAT THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS ARE FAMOUS FOR. AND AS FOR AELFRIC, WELL I DONT FIND THAT NAME WEIRD AT ALL WHEN YOU THINK OF WHAT CELEBRITIES ARE NAMING THERE KIDS THESE DAYS. I TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. IT MAY BE SLOW AT TIMES, BUT THE CRAZY ANARCHIST SCHEMES CORKY COMES UP WITH MAKE IT TOTALLY WORTH IT. IM NOT SURE IF I REALLY THINK THE ENDING WAS WORTH THE BUILD UP BUT THE CHARACTER DEVELOPEMENT AND SIDE- STORYS THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY BALANCE IT OUT. P.S. MY REAL NAME IS RICA WEIRD EH
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on June 30, 2004
The good news is that Dean Koontz shows no signs of wearing out his welcome. _From the Corner of His Eye_ and _One Door Away from Heaven_ -- two of his other recent works -- alone should prove this. Both reflect Koontz's ever-evolving mixture of suspense, humor, and personal awakenings inspired by supernatural/spiritual occurrences. I might even call them haunting, in the best possible sense.
The only bad news is that _The Face_ is that much more puzzling and disappointing by comparison. While the familiar Koontz themes are here, the paper-thin plot grants them little room for purchase. The child protagonist is, if not *quite* as dumb as a post, easily the least compelling of the young heroes and heroines that Koontz has crafted in the recent past. The attempts at humorous banter fall flat with uncharacteristic frequency. The police-procedural stuff is just plain boring, while the Big Picture that it's meant to illustrate -- namely, that police are frequently martyred, and that it's all due to those darn politicians and voters and especially (spit) academics -- is hammered into our heads to a degree that is too insultingly simplistic to be worthy of this author. Not since _Dragon Tears_ has Koontz felt the need to rant for this many pages on behalf of a political point, and while I love politics as much as the next guy: if I wanted Fox News, I'd *watch* Fox News. Dean, baby, you're so much better when you're something approaching subtle.
My take on _The Face_ is either that it was ghostwritten, or that Koontz's publisher took what could have been a decent enough 200-page addition to the Nancy Drew canon and forced him at gunpoint to expand it to over three times that. Clearly, one can't be creative under the latter conditions, so this is what we got. (Was he trying to send us a cry for help by naming it after a character whom we never meet?)
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on June 21, 2004
The paperback edition of "The Face" is 650 pages long. The last 100 of them are excellent - very fast-paced and suspenseful.
The first 550 pages should have been 350. There is way too much unnecessary detail, which slows the story down. Koontz could have achieved all of the same wonderful character development and description of events, scenes, and moods with far fewer words. I honestly considered abandoning the book several times, and would have if I didn't have the summer off from work. I'm glad I stuck with the book, because the ending was excellent.
The bad guy is really, really evil: without the tiniest bit of remorse, he kills even people who are "close" to him when he no longer needs them. Koontz provides a lot of backstory and character development, so our bad guy is 3-dimensional. The problem is that he's just not scary. Neither is the book.
There are two protagonists - Fric, the 10-year-old son of a movie star, and Ethan Truman, a former cop who is in charge of security on the movie star's lavish estate. Both are very sympathetic characters, and by the end of the book, you will care very much about whether they live or die.
One of the major plot points is inconsistent and doesn't make sense. (I'll take care to avoid revealing spoilers.) As we find out at the very beginning of the book, the bad guy has sent clues to Ethan signaling that something bad is likely to happen soon. These "clues" are very perplexing, and help get us interested in the story early on. Clearly, Koontz wants us to think that the bad guy takes a twisted satisfaction in taunting Ethan. However, there's a big problem with this. As we get to know the bad guy throughout the book, and observe his actions, we learn that he is a very cautious fellow who takes no unnecessary risks. He should have known that sending these clues to Ethan, even if Ethan doesn't figure out what they mean, will put Ethan on alert, which could reduce the bad guy's chances of pulling off his crime successfully. Yes, he would take twisted pleasure in taunting someone, but ONLY if he could do so at no risk to himself. I think Koontz was so concerned with finding a way to hook readers into the story that he forgot that these actions were inconsistent with the bad guy's otherwise well-developed character.
Finally, about the title. Very early in the book, you think you understand why the book is called "The Face," and it's not a very compelling reason. But near the very end, you find out that the title has a dual meaning, which is kind of neat.
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on June 5, 2004
"The Face" is an intriguing, exciting novel and definitely worth your time and money. It has all the signature themes Koontz fans have come to expect over the years: the commonplace yet epic struggle between the forces of love and basic goodness and the forces of evil and chaos.
Typical of Koontz, and refreshingly unique to him, he portrays evil not as a thing of hatred, which would imply some kind of engagement with humanity no matter how negative, but rather as a thing of emptiness, a complete absence of feeling for anyone but oneself. His villains are classic sociopaths, blinded to their own evil as they construct absurdly nihilistic world-views to rationalize their destructive self-indulgence. His protagonists are either the couple you wish you were or, if you're like me, the only people in modern fiction you really, honestly identify with (not to be boastful, it's just that my husband and I have been blessed with the kind of love Koontz so often describes in his books).
Although this is an excellent book, my favourites are still "From The Corner Of His Eye", "False Memory", "The Bad Place", "Night Chills" and "Demon Seed" - in that order. Only after these five comes "The Face".
P.S. *SPOILER* I liked the little note at the end about "Saint Duncan", a subtle dig at the practice of "petitioning" or praying to so-called saints who are, after all, just dead people - a practice forbidden in the Bible, which tells us we are to worship and pray to God alone. Typhon, the devil, was trying to get Dunny to commit the sin of idolatry by praying to someone other than God.
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Not a damsel, but a poor little rich kid is in distress in Koontz's latest thriller. Aelfric-Fric for short-is the skinny, 10-year-old son of the biggest movie star in the world, Channing Manheim, called The Face after his most obvious asset. A homicidal anarchist literature professor plans to kidnap and torture the boy to death, recording the proceedings for controlled leakage to the media, all for the sake of making everyone paranoid and increasing disorder in the world. The psycho has figured out how to get Fric despite the fact that the Manheim mansion is as well guarded as the White House. Chief of security Ethan Truman is certainly capable of dealing with the sicko, but he thinks the threat implied by six mysterious packages sent to the mansion is against The Face. Fortunately, a series of very convincing hallucinations is prodding Ethan toward enlightenment at the same time that untraceable phone calls and a man who emerges from and disappears back into reflective surfaces are warning Fric of oncoming danger. Koontz keeps the suspense setting on high and rides his hobbyhorses against Hollywood, the media, and present-day academe, while proving that his sense of brand-name product placement is superb.
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on May 24, 2004
First, the Bad -
The things I didn't like about this Koontz book were the things I never like about his books - unbelievable villians that have no motives for their actions, Koontz's prejudiced social commentary on pop culture things such as hip-hop music and fashion, the fact that he seems to do EXTENSIVE research for certain things he writes about and give relentless detail to them yet he can't be assed to research other things at all - like anarchists. He seems to know nothing about them while trying to portray an anarchist character. Kind of reminds me of times when he has wrote about 'Satanist' characters proving he knows nothing at all about Satanism.
Now, the Good-
Koontz's imagery, dialogue, characterizations, and dark humor make this a book I enjoyed reading. I especially found it amusing when Ethan's cop friend got a call from the supernatural on his cell phone, and hit *69, only to have the call answered by what Koontz would call a dead "homey" who has it out for the cop. While Koontz always makes the "bad" characters so unrealistic, his "good" characters are pretty three dimensional and lovable.
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on May 21, 2004
Over the years, Dean Koontz has slightly shifted his deliverance and motivations for his work. Initially, Koontz was a crafty, intelligent suspense novelist who distributed tense, horrific stories in page-turners that brought the hairs up of his readers. Ever since his novels of the early 1990s, Koontz has made his obligation as a writer to not only present readers with a well-thought, enthralling story, but to use the story as the foundation for enlightenment and uplift.
His latest, "The Face" is perhaps his most spiritual, supernatural, and emotional novel to date. The title of the novel represents the ego and nickname of the most successful male super-actor to ever grace the earth, Channing Manheim, yet the plot has little or nothing to do with this character. Koontz uses Ethan Truman as the protagonist: a level-headed ex-cop who took the job of Head Security Supervisor of Manheim's gorgeous estate given his lack of interest in the force due to his wife's unsuccessful bout with cancer. When the Manheim estate receives unusual letters and gifts from an unknown sender, Truman begins the quest of determining the culprit, only to find himself in a battle against an enemy far worse than he ever expected. With the help of a former partner, Truman attempts to put aside his questions about the past, his personal doubts about his purpose in life, and ultimately what he believes in order to save the estate, and most importantly, Channing Manheim's ten-year old son from a chaotic terror.
"The Face" is beautifully written, poetic in its descriptions of the glamorous estate and the depiction of each character. Although some portions of the novel seem overdrawn and purposely thorough, Koontz seems to not only desire to create tales that are precise, but eloquent in style to each sentence and word. This novel is a vivid, horrifying account of how bad excessive evil can be, but also, in due course, that faith, love, and second chances can bring the good out of all of us.
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I'm a fan of Dean Koontz. Over the last 3 years I've read all his books. What keeps me coming back are his suspensful plots and his clear dilineation between good and evil. However, over the past few years his cast of characters and plot lines have become increasingly cheesy. For instance, here are some of the names of people in this book: Vladamir "Corky" Laputa, Hazard Yancy, Yorn, and Fric. I realize that most of his books take place in crazy California, but I have a hard time concentrating on the story when the names are so unbelieveable.
Also, the behavior of Hazard Yancy at Corky Laputa's house after he discovered the body of the professor bothered me. They made it sound like Corky would "walk" because Hazard found the body via an illegal search (it's not like he found illegal drugs; he found a kidnapping victim). Even if he broke in without probable cause, the professor dude was still alive and I'm sure he could have provided more than enough ancillary evidence to convict him of kidnapping and attempted murder.
I did enjoy this book. I was intrigued by Dunny's return and how it related to Corky's plot. It was fun how it all came together at the end with an incredibly cheesy ending.
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