Top critical review
Goes from good to bad
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.