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.
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
on July 13, 2004
Let them deal with what to do with this garbage but please take it away from this world. A book may be flawed in some aspects: Dialogues may be weak, or plot may be weak, or characters may be weak, or sentence structures may be stilted, or narrative may feel forced...but a book PUBLISHED by a BIG-SELLING author through a MAJOR publishing house should at least BOAST any merit to compensate other flaws. But this book... is simply a total loss in all aspects; no characters, no dialogue (Mr Koontz my advice: get into the street and listen how real people talk; IMHO you are spending too much time with your dogs and are on the verge of forgetting how REAL people TALK in our world), no tension, no humour, no horror, no philosophy, no thinking, no nice playwords...nothing at all...preachiness, padded storyline and ice-age words and adjectives are the bonuses.
All in all do not attempt to read this book or you will mourn the time and money you've spent. I am trying to figure out a way to get it out of my house but I am sure I will get rid of it in a place soooo deep because I am afraid a poor soul may stumble on it and unfortunately read it.
To my amusement, some people find this hodgepodge as thought-provoking. I agree with them, but on the other way:It provoked me to think how on earth this book was published and how Mr. Koontz sells so many books.
on July 6, 2004
Though DK used to publish a book a year, when he heard that SK would retire, he suddenly changed gears, started to publish two books a year; the format of the books also took a turn: The names, first. The silly, elementary-school-story-like, stupidly long and syrupy names (One Door away from Heaven; oh my God- one step away from being utterly ridiculous) were all of a suddeh replaced by ominious short ones: Face,Odd Thomas etc..Then come the covers: The silly, childish covers gave way to cool,ominious looking covers (Odd Thomas' cover being particularly good); in the meantime the books get leaner, those tomes (From the Corner--) gave way to quick reads.
The contents ofthe stories also changed: They became something similar to story; from hysterical several plots, subplots, sub-sub-plots in From the Corner or By the or One door were wiped away with more clear ones (though Face was almost a victim of that particular habit) I thought the dogs have vanished for good but apparently DK has some kind of mental addiction to them They re-appeared in the Taking. The horror also gets more intense; the syrupy, false and superficial philosophical debates are replaced by sinister, thrilling scenes.
One does not need to be numb to see that his publisher and DK clunk their glasses one day and said that: "Oh my dear since SK has retired for good, now you step in and be the real King"
But can he?
<sigh> the formats may change; the book titles may change; creepiness factor may change but a) if your characters are already dead on page one and not credible a bit- in other words, your nine-year old girls talk like forty-five years old wisdom ladies ; b) if your dialogues are not better than sophomore students; I mean you can ramble on for five pages with ONE WORD dialogues and monologues c) if your humor attempts are cringe-worthy and d) you insist on writing about California (but if you are not depicting it as good as King portraits Maine)and adorable labradors trottling every page your chances to become master is as weak as ever.
Don't tell me Koontz is not trying to be the master; don't tell me he has crossed-genres: He had no other choice: King has outdone him so easily that I am sure even King should be very surprised. Don't tell me the Taking is not a horror book: it tries to be a horror book; but DK also wants to fodder that religious jumbo-mambo to his followers for five or six books; in short he tries to mix them (but of course miserably)
Anyway how many Koontz books that one can count that is in the classic status outside the genre? As far as I know only Watchers has made some kind of impression on the mainstream readers other than what? Is there any Koontz classic that defines the genre (or any genre) like the Shining, Ghost Story (Peter Straub), the Stand, Swan Song (Robert M), Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)? Does he have a strong debut as Carrie or Night of the Beast? Is there any book of him that serves as a benchmark for other books to compare like The House on the Hill, I am a Legend, Something Wicked Comes This Way? Where is the Dark Tower, Lord of the Rings or Illium like series (except the pathetic Christopher Snow ones)? How many WONDERFUL and CREEPY short stories (praised ones) did he churn out like the almighty-suberp Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, the Blood Books, the Lottery or the Houses Without Doors full of extremely well structured, genious, mind curling stories (except Strange Highways which is as perfunctory as a book can be). Please, c'mon; Koontz's writing about dogs and hysterical paranoic books did not help him gain any status other than a best-seller author (for which the world is in no scarcity, don't worry- even John Grisham and James Patterson are bestseller writers, go figure?) so he did not have any choice but cross-genre, so let it be.
I wouldn't be need so harsh or long but a title of a review here gave me goosebumps: OUR GREATEST LIVING WRITER. When I read the content of it, I wished that Amazon would immediately delete it so that other living writers, a few of whom are mentioned above, would not be offended.
Though I am not a writer I felt offended because it seemed like an insult to my intelligence. This is nothing but a disrespect to several LIVING authors in the USA who are better than DK; if we were limited only to genre, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dan Simmons, Rampsey Campbell (though he is English), the new kid that wrote the Night of the Beast, Harry Shanon are imminent and OBVIOUS names that come to mind at the first instance and are all better bets. Their classics speak volumes. And Kirkus Review is still waiting for Koontz to write the classic "he has been horning for years" Welcome to the club! I have been waiting for THIRTY years.
While asserting something, try to be factual and logical even if a little bit.
As for the Taking, it is a comeback-wannabe for Koontz to horror; though it is more effective than his Watchers or Phantom days, Koontz' weaknesses are all displayed compounded by flowery writing and religious jungle!
Give up Mr Koontz! It's too late!
on July 5, 2004
The Taking is more than a title, it is a message of more than what the story contains. I felt uncomfortable and slightly let down reading what starts at the Armageddon of the Earth and life as we know it. Once again an ordinary place turns sinister in front of your eyes. Even the good people, the mailman and his son are like us - not all that we appear to be. Sometimes more evil than good, choices that come back to haunt us. The scene in the book when the community joins together in the local bar, is diverse with charecters and issues. The heroine walks in a trusted neighbor but as soon as the animals in the place respond to her positively ; she than becomes "different." How often does that happen in our lives; were good things (lottery, birth, marriage, divorce)make us or make others treat us "different." This was not a bad book, Kootz can't write a bad book but it was an uncomfortable read. If not the religion than mans inhumanity to man, or even the issue of God's inhumanity to man; whatever, it was more that I needed for a summer read. It made me think too much; which I guess is a good thing. Sit back, read and think for yourself what the message is to you, it's worth it.
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.
on July 3, 2004
I just finished "The Taking" and though I was entirely caught up in the story I have to admit being disappointed in the ending. This book was a lot more horror from an author I expect to see suspense with a supernatural twist. I am a fan of Dean Koontz and have read all of his books. I don't read them for the literary quality- I read them for escapism and a new and different story. The ending turned out better than I had hoped. I was reading and had only 50 or so pages to go and he still hadn't drawn us towards a conclusion so I was worried it would be some silly dream thing, but he pulled it out with something different although I still didn't like it. I still will read all of his books, but in later years he's written a few hit and miss books and some others that were really wonderful. Enough to keep me coming back. I don't feel my time was wasted as other people have said- I never do reading books. I do have to mention, however, if he used "abomination" one more time I was going to have a spasm!
To the reviewer who derided Koontz for misspelling Eliot, you should do a little research before showing your ignorance in view of a large number of people! Eliot is indeed the correct spelling.
on July 3, 2004
Dean Koontz should make up his mind about what kind of writer he is: A thriller, horror and suspense writer? or some kind of false messiah trying to sooth the post-9/11 America spirit and thus attempting to make a corner in the literary world with some kind of biblical nonsense books full of unnecessary adjectives and descriptions without a real story and down-to-earth dialogue? If he goes for the latter one, I will leave him just here: I don't need the advices by some so-called Koontz experts that reviewed below and called Koontz "our greatest living writer" I read books for a good story, nice characters, moral lessons, and some thought not for mindless drivel of preachy talk using horror as a disguise. As a reviewer said here, is this a new tactic on Mr Koontz's part to sell and not to be forgotten among the history of trash authors? If this is so, then it is a pity: Because he used to write good stories but he stopped around False Memory, which was not so good in the first place. I sell this book for free; because it is the most useless thing in my library.
Stick with Stephen King, Peter Straub or Robert Jordan: at least they are not pretentious and they are aware that they are not Saviors; they are humble authors and their task is to entertain people while educating them with REAL thought-provoking issues: not to preach and babble about dogs, hope blah blah over and over for zillion times.
I am done with Koontz; he can take his followers and go to a farm in Texas so that they can happily live there; but he will never steal my precious hours in my life again. Oh what a waste!
on July 3, 2004
One of the reviewers below state that those one-star raters are missing the whole point and lesson. I am not sure what kind of lesson he has gotten from this pointless attention-seeking twaddle but the only thing I've managed to learn is that I will never touch any book written by Koontz again, let alone buying hardcovers and throwing off my hard-earned money into the religious mangle. I should have known better and given him up totally around the times he published Moonlight bay trilogies. He has never been a good writer but at least his stories had some suspense.
Some over-believers here claim that Koont's views on hope and faith are what makes this trash elevated but in my humble opinion his ideas about faith are never substantiated and never better or more enlightening than an average layman (like me, you) walking around your blocks.
Be wise and skip this book and think about more than twice before buying any new Koontz book because he appears to be in fear that his sales are going downhill and he is trying to sell his garbage through religious dabbings. Say "faith" and this is what sells in the USA nowadays.
And lastly I can't believe that a reviewer here compared Margaret Atwood to Koontz, hinting that she is not worthy to read because "her opinions are 180 degrees opposite to Koontz" Go figure how those five-star raters base their opinins on? Not writing skills, not telling a good story, not a "story" but other "heavenly" things
on July 3, 2004
Cannot decide whether it is a horror story or a redemption one as some claim here. It is neither of them and not good in both of them. The narrative almost dictates at you and make your teeth grind as if you are being scolded not believing in God and faith. The atmposphere is good for evoking chilling horror but does not go anywhere. This is my second book by Mr Koontz (first one being that overhyped Face-slightly better than this one but not a masterpiece) and Koontz seems to be a weak writer with serious problems in developing his characters: he is unable to make them have lives outside the stories. If you are not related to characters (the ones in the Taking were particularly stiff ), it does not matter if it is horror or religious junk. Wait for the paperback if you insist on reading this waste of time but there are several better alien books out there
I will try Mr. Koontz one more: better for him that it is a good one (I don't expect him to write a masterpiece after these two boring ones- he is not Stephen King, or Peter Straubt or Dan Simmons I am for sure) or I will leave him for good.
Does anyone have suggestions where there are less adjactives and more story?