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2.9 out of 5 stars
The Taking: A Novel
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Also while on vacation, I started and finished The Taking by Dean Koontz. This is his latest supernatural thriller novel, and it's not bad. Not his best, but I still like his style.
A couple wakes up in the middle of the night as a strange torrential downpour starts. It feels oppressive and doesn't stop. Even some of the wild animals in the woods around them (like wolves) start acting strangely and seek shelter in their house. News stories from around the world show that this is not a local occurrance, and pretty soon TV and radio stations starting going off the air, along with the power going out. They go into town to try and band together with others, but people are acting strangely. There are odd creatures that are starting to grow out of fungus that isn't natural to the area (or anyplace else), and these creatures seem bent on evil and killing. They can even animate dead bodies and communicate through them. Throughout all this strangeness and killing, the couple is safe, along with the dog that is helping them find children that have been abandoned. Although they don't know why, the creatures seem to be unable to harm the children or the people/creatures that are helping them. The story progresses through the buildup of the alien creatures and what will happen to earth when they are done.
While this isn't probably his best work, I still like his style of writing. He paints vivid scenes with his words, and I enjoy building the story in my mind as he writes. The plot line seems to be a little short, with a lot of writing about not much action. If I didn't like the writing so much, I'd probably give it an average. But since I learn a lot about style every time I read a Koontz novel, I'll bump it up one star from there.
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on July 14, 2004
I am a big fan of the author. My 5-star favorites are Lightning and Watchers. My 4-star favorite is Dragon Tears.
First of all, I don't get everyone's comments about the book tying into post-911. If someone could explain that, I would appreciate it.
The scariest movie I've ever seen was "event horizon", where a space ship was built to travel to other dimensions/universes, and what it brought back...just the concept...gave me the willies.
This book gave me the willies, because it was along the same concept. That's why I give this book a 3.5, rounded up to 4. I rated it as such because the concept scared the crap out of me. Some people say the dog factor was too much, get real. Dean Koontz has always had a dog factor in most of his books, so why complain about it? I mean, it's not like you "don't" know there might be a dog character or characters that stands out.
I thought it brought the bible out of the dark age and into the age of science. Like "noigelmai, reficulmai" coming out of the sky like an alien. With the UFO sightings that occurred recently in Mexico (may 2004), this book gave me the willies.
"the willies" factor = 5 stars
"the story" = 5 stars
"story development" = 4 stars
"Religious undertones"=3 stars
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on July 4, 2004
I was abit hesitant to pick up Koontz's new novel,in light of his last offering. (Yes,I found "Odd Thomas" to be a major let-down...heresy,I know,to all you glassy-eyed Koontz adorationists(is this a word?),but,Hey...it's my opinion,so...)I've read Koontz's works since the 60's and have always found his imagination and way with words totally captivating,and so,I decided to give his new work "The Taking" the benefit of a doubt and try it. To my pleasant surprise,it carried Much more weight with it than "Odd Thomas". The descriptions were Vivid and shocking-and why shouldn't they be? They were Meant to convey the Horror of the scene,and this they did very effectively. Gruesome? Absolutely. What else would one expect to find when the World itself was dying from an overwhelming attack by Pure Evil? Koontz rolled up his sleeves and put some Effort into the scenery he was attempting to portray to his readers and it Worked.
Did the plot-line get abit too "religiousy"? Maybe...but,again,I rather suspect that was just the very point he was trying for it To make. It's a matter of individual tastes and preferences,I think. Perhaps "The Taking" isn't for Everyone's palate,but a Bad Story? Not at all. It has imagery to make your skin crawl and an ending that was Difficult to anticipate. And doesn't everyone Hate knowing the ending Before you get to it? Little worry of that happening Here.
So,were there no weak or disappointing parts? Of course there were...things such as the near ubiquitous presence of saintly motivated Dogs. If you've been following Koontz,you'll Know that in his last several novels,Dogs have played Significant roles in All of them. Dean...we've Got it. You found yourself a pet Dog and you absolutely Love it. Okey. Now Enough with the ever-present altruistic Dogs.(I got a kick out of how he tossed in a scant few Cats and even a Parrot at the end-just for a Teeny bit of diversity. Not Enough...but Some,anyway!)
But,this review's purpose isn't to tear apart and denigrate this new Koontz book. It's not Bad. Has he written Better? Of course he has...but he's written Far worse! Too religious for you? Hey,Koontz has come a Long way since he wrote "A Darkness In My Soul"...So,give him a break! People complain if he gets to "preachy"..people complain that he's gotten away from Horror and gone too mainstream...they complain when he writes too much about conspiracies...Just What are you looking for? Dean Koontz is a Good authour but he can't be Everything to Everyone..My Rating? I give it 4 Stars.
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on July 2, 2004
I thoroughly enjoyed this book...and, despite what others may think, I am not "paid by Koontz" and I have read many other agreed-upon quality books. I genuinely enjoyed this one.
From the beginning, the book had me hooked...he jumps into the story, into the suspense, so quickly. I, like another reviewer, could never figure out how in the world the characters could even hope for a happy ending.
My only complaints would be that yes, his metaphors sometimes were overdone, and the abrupt transition in the story to give the main characters the purpose of saving the children was disturbing for a long time; it seemed contrived at first, like he just all of a sudden decided they needed a mission, but was finally explained.
I loved the ending...and I won't give it away. It was somewhat predictable, but that's ok...a good deal of our entertainment these days is predictable; I personally enjoy seeing how the author/director/etc will play out that ending.
Just a good, fun read!
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on June 29, 2004
First of all nothing irritates me more than people saying that in order to write a good review on this book you probably have some agenda or even been paid to write something good. GIVE ME A BREAK! Do NOT tell me how I should feel or what I should be thinking. Okay, you didn't like the book, that's fine, but maybe it's possible that some people have different opinions than YOURS??!?!!
My opinion: Not Mr. Koontz best, but I greatly enjoyed it. After reading some of the reviews (before I finished the book) I was afraid of the "quick religious ending" because I hate quick and easy wrap-ups (like a lot of Star Trek episodes) and I hate even more preachy religious sermons. But you know what? I LOVED the ending. I didn't feel cheated. I think everything that was supposed to be explained WAS. Without revealing the ending, I can say it left me with a warm and optimistic feeling about the true nature of man.
I do agree that it lacked the humor in Odd Thomas or the quirky characters of Fear Nothing. The character of Neil was not exactly flat, but his character was not really flushed out very well, perhaps because the story was more about Molly anyway.
If you are a Dean Koontz fan, I definitely recommend it. If you are a Koontz snob, I can't guarantee anything!
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on June 29, 2004
I thought this was a very nice book by Mr. Koontz. I read it through in only two sessions, which is unusual for me, but it kept me hanging in there waiting to see what would happen next. I thought the beginning was quite suspenseful (I kept wondering how on earth were the characters going to have an even *remotely* happy ending) and thought the descriptive filler was kept to a comparable minimal for one of Koontz's books.
Yes, Koontz explores religious ideas in his books, but it seems to me that he is offering the readers various theories on his ideas of God and why we, as the human race, can have hope despite the violence surrounding us in the world today. You can tell that he is an optimist despite all the evidence to the contrary, and his inherently sunny nature reveals itself in his writing no matter in what situation his characters find themselves. He does not cram his theories down readers' throats, but gives them as food for thought - take them or leave them.
This is a terrific summer read and I certainly recommend its purchase.
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on June 9, 2004
I pounced on The Taking as it arrived, practically maiming the UPS man in my haste to have the newest Dean Koontz book in my hot hands.
Mr. Koontz is without a doubt a master of the craft, he dances with words and does masterful description. His prose turn purple only occasionally in this novel. From the earthy description of luminous rain that smells like semen to the picture of children eating that frozen seminal smelling rain, Mr. Koontz builds chills and a feeling of impending doom.
But there comes a point when I have waited too long and seen to many temptations to despair. I found that I wanted to get on with it! I wanted to see the aliens, know why the dead walked and why Molly seemed to be special. Molly seems to be unable to make up her mind at times, I wanted her to commit herself to an action and follow it through.
I personally love the authors penchants for making dogs into a bit more than a family pet. While this is not the best I have ever read, I found Odd Thomas a better read, with the gentle humor and the main character's utter naivety to his own attraction for the "fair" Sex. The Face had a much more satisfying ending. In The Taking I found myself wondering where I would fall when the sifting was done. The decidedly religious turn at the end of the book did explain many things, but I wondered about the deaths of so many. The ending made me very uncomfortable, but perhaps that was the authors intent.
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on June 8, 2004
What I love about a Dean Koontz book is that it's the literary equivalent of a roller coaster ride: fast, furious and filled with both fun and terror. In this latest offering, he shows why he has become so popular. He combines a talent for desciption with character development and brisk pacing, while subtly communicating a message of values and hope. The result is a great read that will keep you glued to the pages till the end.
That being said, I could not help but think that he could have done much more with this story. In many ways he is the anti-Stephen King: fast and lean in his writing, as opposed to the Great One's self-confessed "diarreha of the word processor" that turns his books into encyclopedia-size works. But the story in "The Taking" and the themes it tackles are quite broad, and touch on issues every thinking person has asked at one time or another: is there a purpose to life? If so, why is my place in its unfolding? Why do suffering and evil exist? Will the wicked one day be punished? What form will the Final Judgment take?
I am still waiting for him to create something truly worthy of his talent: his own "Lord Of The Rings" or some such. "The Taking" makes a stab at this, but is much too concise and quick.
The tale could easily have been expanded to a much larger book, or even a multi-book series. I believe it would have allowed him to more fully explore these issues, as well as giving his readers a more enjoyable experience.
Koontz has always been a first rate entertainer. But, if he ever hopes to create a book the equal of, say, The Stand, he will have to dig a little deeper into himself and spend a little more time at the keyboard. I hope one day he does just that; for the result will surely be monumental.
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on June 8, 2004
I seem to be in the opposite minority of most of the other reviewers of Koontz's books. I strongly disliked Odd Thomas when most others liked it and now I am am giving this book a good review when most others panned it!
First the bad: The prose is too flowery and has a tendency slow down the story and he is putting way too much religious and metaphysical connotations into his stories. (If we want to be preached to, we will go to church!)
That being said, let's get on to the good: The story is dark and very claustrophobic and scary - things a good suspense novel should be. It seems as though it is another alien invasion story and throughout the entire book you wonder how he is going to resolve this one. But the ending pulls it all together in the most creative and surprising concept I have ever read! It is worth the read just to be amazed by his last chapter! It will definitely make you think for awhile after you put it down.
Don't expect his best, but don't give up on him either. Like his other fans, I hope that his future novels will return to straight suspense without the religious overtones and that he will tighten up his writing and dispense with the overwhelming dependence on descriptive adjectives. However, I still recommend this book for a rainy day!
Mr. Koontz, how about a nice ghost story next?
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on June 6, 2004
Rainstorms rarely bode well. Heavy downpours that fall under cloak of night deepen the already-threatening shadows and trigger a host of fears. But the steady rain that pummels Molly and Niel Sloan's house portends an unimaginable evil. Possessing a sort of glow, unearthly shapes can be seen moving through the sheets of silver. An unpleasant odor emanates from it, raising the hairs on the back of Molly's neck. Intuition sends the couple fleeing from their isolated home, rushing into the blinding storm toward Black Lake, their little town of a few thousand souls --- souls about to be greatly tested.
When the day dawns, it dawns through a heavy purple fog, the rains having ceased like a spigot suddenly wrenched off. The townsfolk, many gathered in the local pub, split into groups of differing philosophies --- some resigned to their fate, finding comfort in drink; a handful of indecisives frozen by their inability to take a stand; brave hopefuls drawn together to fight the alien enemy; and diehard peace lovers forced, by belief, into deadly inaction.
The taking of the earth is effected by creatures of many forms, both original and borrowed. The dead walk, the living die --- in a carnival of gruesome ways. Meanwhile, Molly and Niel appear to be somehow charmed. They travel where others cannot go, puzzled over their unique abilities. And they find a hero in a most unusual creature. Molly in particular is guided by a force --- but is it guiding or is it luring?
Dean Koontz, an undisputed master of words, indulges himself in some frivolity as he peppers his prose with obscure, if not outright invented, adjectives and nouns. On occasion, I found his strings of words beginning with the same letter to be distracting. He has written a very engaging story without the necessity for words that can't help but send the perplexed reader running to a dictionary every few pages. I mean, a minikin in pink pedal pushers? Is there really such a thing as a minikin? Or pitipatition? I couldn't find a definition for either.
That tiny grouse aside, THE TAKING draws one in, revealing itself as a novel not so much of horror as of revelations. Don't get me wrong; there are many horrific things that occur in its pages. But the story's focus is not that of wholesale terror. Rather, it deals with hope, a cleansing of the world, in a way. Unlike earlier Koontz books, THE TAKING left me with goose bumps of the good kind and pondering the ending long after I closed it for the last time. A definite must-read for Koontz fans.
--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers
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