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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(3 star). See all 154 reviews
on May 30, 2004
When Molly Sloan awakens one night to the drumming of an oddly scented luminescent rain, she senses that something is off-kilter. The coyotes huddle frightened on her porch. She feels a disturbing presence moving past in the sky. When her husband Neil awakens with nightmares, the two of them watch news broadcasts about bizarre supernatural occurrences, shocking violence, and public panic that arise around the globe. It starts to look as if an alien invasion has begun. Then the power goes out. Molly and Neil join up with some of their neighbors, trying to identify what is happening and how to deal with the increasingly evil and omnipotent entity that appears to be taking over the planet. The townspeople splinter into factions, each with its own opinion on how to handle the crisis.
The story starts off with powerful mood-building imagery and with echoes of Koontz's "Strangers" and Stephen King's "The Stand" and "The Mist." Koontz then cranks up the suspense and horror as alien vegetation begins to invade the town, the residents are dispatched in gruesome and mysterious ways, and the dead come to life. Now the story segues into a Twilight Zone screenplay, as the supernatural and otherworldly occurrences increase. By the halfway point, Molly and Neil are now on a crusade to save the children at any cost, even though they wonder how anyone, adult or child, could survive this hellish new world order. When there are only 50 pages left to go in the story, I am wondering how Koontz could ever resolve the plot instead of leaving the reader hanging until a sequel. Then comes a disappointing ending that plays strongly on Koontz's increasing trend to use religion and hope in his books. Dogs feature prominently in this story, as they do in many of Koontz's books. However, the author's trademark sense of humor is conspicuously absent here.
To be fair, I give the first half of the book a five star rating for an excellent portrayal of a horrific and inexplicable entity gaining absolute control over the earth. I give the middle a three star rating as Molly assumes absurdly heroic proportions in the midst of Armageddon. The ending deserves one star as a cop-out and a disappointment. So how can I sum the book up? If you are a Koontz fan like me, you will want to read the book. The first half is a powerhouse of creepiness and it has a story line build-up that showcases the best of Koontz's storytelling abilities. But the second half will likely let you down, unless your favorite theme in Koontz's books is the transcendence of horror by uplifting spirituality.
Eileen Rieback
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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.
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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.
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on June 30, 2004
Let me begin by saying that I have not read a Dean Koontz book since "Strangers" in the late 80s. They seemed formulaic and I never considered reading another. Then I saw "The Taking" featured in one of those book-of-the-month-like clubs. The plot intrigued me. I ordered it right away. I brought the book along on a recent out-of-town conference, and let me say, I had to put the book down in my hotel room and not read it after a certain hour. And let me tell you, I don't scare easily. And I was conflicted because I really wanted to continue reading but I got the major "willies." Ok, so Publishers Weekly is probably right when they said, "While his care with words engenders admiration, his love of metaphor and alliteration can slow down the reading ("the luminous nature of the torrents that tinseled the forest and silvered the ground"). That kind of alliteration made me smile, it just seemed far too...literary. But I didn't care, I kept going. It was compelling as all get out. And then that ending, which came from nowhere and has stayed with me even now, some two weeks after I finished reading the book. A truly unsettling ending, at least for me. At the very, very least, "The Taking" is a good summer read -- no, a good read, PERIOD. I have read some of the other reviews and it seems as if those who are die-hard fans of his are disappointed, as it appears that Koontz is trying to elevate his work. I really cannot say, as this is only the second book of his that I have read in more than ten years. A thoughtful, truly compelling book. And I LOVED the references to T.S. Eliot!
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on June 29, 2004
This is a weird book. It begins as a horror tale - and not a bad one - and ends as a religious bromide, which I found jarring and disappointing.
The first few chapters are indeed the stuff of good horror stories. A luminous rain falls upon the world. Clocks run backward. Communications are disrupted. Coyotes congregate on the front porch, seemingly frightened into docility.
Hero and heroine embark on a journey from their remote house to the nearby small rural hamlet. The town drunk utters a dire warning. A strange growth is found in the bathroom. The townspeople are divided in their opinions as to what should be done.
Molly decides they should find the children whom she believes have been abandoned or worse.
From this point on, the characters become shallow, the action repetitive and unbelievable and the plot simply impossible to accept. It all winds up as part of some divine battle between good and evil; God and Satan or whatever.
Ultimately "The Taking" is disappointing because it is neither horror nor religious. I get the feeling that the author tried a variety of endings and chose the one that he thought would get him a movie deal or something. The conclusion of the story just doesn't fit. It left me with the feeling that there was originally another ending plan, the destruction of humans on Earth perhaps - and that the author changed his mind.
On the whole, "The Taking" is something to read at the beach, in between long naps.
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on June 21, 2004
Although I enjoyed The Taking to some degree, it didn't leave me with a feeling of "Boy, that was a good book" when I had completed it.
Why? I'm not sure. Too catholic? Too much of a cross between Noah's Ark and All Dog's Go to Heaven? I'm not sure, but something was missing.
What I typically like about Koontz novels, is that as dark as they can be, there is always satisfactory resolution that you know is coming... How he delivers it is what makes them so good. He also has the ability to emotionally grip me like no other (I think of Intensity, for example).
But The Taking didn't do this as well. I listened to the unabridged audio version and midway through tape 6 (the last tape), everything was still so incredibly dark. The ending just sort of came, and quickly.
Although there was some level of emotional gripping and resolution at the end, it just wasn't with the same bang or panache, or whatever. The ending also left me with a feeling that something was emotionally missing.
Anyway, enough rambling. In my opinion, not Koontz's best work, but not a bad read, all in all.
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on June 17, 2004
I've read through the reviews submitted by other readers and I find myself agreeing with just about all of them - positive AND negative.
If this doesn't seem to make sense, let me explain. I've been a Dean Koontz fan for over thirty years, since he was writing as Leigh Nichols and other pseudonyms when I could find them, and followed his career as he gradually blossomed into a writer of big fat best-sellers. I've enjoyed almost all of them.
However, he is in danger of becoming a victim of style. He seems to search the thesaurus for synonyms that send me - and apparently hundreds of other readers - to the dictionary just so we can learn what the heck he is talking about. This is a distraction, and good writers avoid this kind of overkill. He plays with words and phrases, often to the detriment of the story and more often than not ends up irritating the reader with his cleverness. Okay, Dean, you've got a giant vocabulary and we're all impressed, but for Pete's sake, just tell the story in a clear and understandable way.
He is in danger of becoming all style and little substance. Let's have the old Koontz - more story, more suspense, and maybe a bit less clever use of obscure words. Please.
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on June 16, 2004
Certainly one of the most weird Koontzbooks ever, maybe THE weirdest, The Taking is still an exciting and engrossing tale. While I was swept along by the plot, though, I also became irritated by the many unexplained elements of the story, and the nonsensical ending was like letting air out of the balloon. Most books by Dean Koontz have a "delayed reveal" -- that is, the true nature of what's happening is not revealed until 2/3 of the way through the book. In The Taking, many things are never really explained AT ALL, not even at the end of the book. (And those that ARE explained struck me as inconsistent with everything that came before...)
As other reviewers have noted, this novel had the potential to be much better. The whole "coming of the apocalypse" theme is one that I usually have a lot of interest in. But Koontz made a mistake in dropping references to popular culture items from which he borrows in an inferior manner. For example, he references M. Night Shyamalan, and then later has a couple of scenes that seem very similar to what happened in M. Night's movie "Signs." (This after Koontz's last book had a plot twist that seemed borrowed from The Sixth Sense.) He also mentions Lovecraft, which only reminds the reader how Lovecraftian all of the monsters in The Taking are.
I'll conclude with a minor appreciation: As a dog lover, I enjoyed the positive role the dogs played in this story (and have played in many other Koontzbooks - Mr. K. is obviously a dog lover too). The human survivors in this book would probably never have made it without the dogs helping.
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on June 15, 2004
As readers we sometimes have certain expectations of how a novel should or could proceed. If the novel proceeds in a direction so completely different from the direction we expect, and the difference is less than pleasing, then we become upset. Such can be a reader's experience with this book.
The book begins with an incredible amount of promise. A strange rain begins one night, waking Molly and Neil Sloan from their sleep. There is something strange happening in the world; something very strange. The strangeness increases even more in the daylight. Every element in the first portion of this book is intriguing and fascinating, and pulls the reader further along, seeking resolution and answers. However, there comes a point when it seems as though Koontz loses track of his purpose, or perhaps he inadvertently communicated a different purpose in the first part of the novel than where the story eventually leads us.
I would like to discuss what happens at the end of the story, but I would rather not spoil any more of the ending than necessary, so I'm going to be vaguer than I would prefer. Koontz' story evolves into metaphysical contemplation and become more akin to the "Left Behind" books than to "The Watcher." I realize that Koontz has been writing for a long time, and he has yet to explore the subject matter of this book in the kind of depth that he does in this book, but the ending left me somewhat unfulfilled. I really liked how the book was progressing, but the ending just seemed a bit too trite. Further, there were a couple of things that I thought Koontz could have developed much more, but did not; quite strange given the current trend for 500+ page novels.
The result is that I am mixed regarding this novel. I would like to see Koontz take another shot at writing this novel with a different ending. Of course, that is pure wish because it will not happen. However, another author might yet take up the incredible beginning and create another story altogether. The potential is there, because it was unrealized in this book. Five stars for the beginning and two stars for the end. I'd give the book 3.5 stars if I could, but it gets 3 stars because of the ending.
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on June 4, 2004
I read this book in two sittings. After I'd put the book down the first night I had a hard time sleeping. I thought, "this book is really creepy!" I finished reading it the following evening, and while I enjoyed the whole book, I found the ending on par with many of Koontz' other recent books.
Dean, rather than writing 3-4 books every year, just write one or two. This book had the makings of a truly epic novel, easily on par with "The Stand". Sadly, after about half way through, the plot seemed to rush toward the ending. True, the whole story, in this and many of Koontz other novels happens in one or two days, but all of your fans would like to see you milk it out a bit.
I agree with another reviewer, dogs do seem to find a leading role in almost every Koontz book. Let's see one without a single bark! I am not offended with the good/evil--God/devil thing going on. I feel that that's just part of life.
There's no doubt about it, Koontz has a way with words. I certainly enjoy his work. Someday I'll bet he writes something that will blow us all away!
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