**spoiler alert** The rather preachy messages about how humans suck (except the few that don't) are fairly typical of DK, along with the overuse of "h...more**spoiler alert** The rather preachy messages about how humans suck (except the few that don't) are fairly typical of DK, along with the overuse of "hatred" as the sole describer of the depth of the bad guys (seriously. If, in his book, one of or the main antagonist itself is supernatural in nature, then, pretty much without fail, in their pursuit of the good guys, they'll be described as having "hateful eyes", or being able to feel their "sheer hatred of mankind", and that's about it. They aren't ever simply mindlessly robotic in their slaughtering, being controlled by someone else, or just find the brutal murdering of humans to be delightfully fun; even if they are being controlled or they find it fun, the whole basis for their characterization is that they're nothing but a physical manifestation of "hatred". It becomes quite boring after the first several times.) My first sentence and already I'm derailing heavily. But no, seriously. "Hateful" and "hatred" to describe supernatural evil creatures in a Koontz drinking game, guaranteed to be schnockered.
Anyway, aside from the above, the story felt a little different than what DK usually writes, though any interesting qualities due to that aren't enhanced upon well, because it feels like he just repeats the same events over and over. Slim sees goblin, kills it. Is paranoid. Sees girl he likes, has emotional issues. More goblins. More killing. Lots of issues on the relationship side. Cryptic comments on Love Interest's background, but not coming out soon enough to keep me really engaged, because we're back to more spotting goblins and being paranoid and stuff. Honestly, I think the book would've worked better as a video game. That way Slim has an excuse to go around constantly killing the same nameless, brainless, zero-personalitied goblins, (which isn't nearly as fun to just read about), he can expand on his psychic abilities as the game progresses (by unlocking new or stronger skills or something; more exciting than his merely talking how he can see under the goblins' human shell all the time), going from town to town, and even the rather silly goblin backstory would've been more forgivable in a video game (because they just are.) I mean, the goblin origin was kind of interesting, but the whole lost civilizations thing, on Earth, that had reached such staggering technological advances (exactly how long ago? I know we're throwing science out the window as usual here, but if it was only a few millennia previous to the events in the book, you'd think today's scientists would be completely aware of all of this. Or did they exist before the dinosaurs, and the goblins that survived live alongside them?), well, lost civilizations are rife in video games, so it'd all be much more easy to swallow there.
Anyway, they mention over and over how "mature" Slim is, despite being only 17, but his voice is still pretty inexcusable when applied to a 17 year old if we want some feel of realism and the ability to relate to him; as it is, he feels more like a wish-fulfillment fantasy stand in, a self-insert or something. "Look at all my amazing powers and how matoor I am!" Not to mention the rather laughable sex scenes with the typically super hot Love Interest.
These are really all just minor gripes, though. As silly as the book is, it's fairly enjoyable going in with no expectations (I actually had gotten it into my head that it would be much worse than this. As in, Breathless bad.)
However, I wasn't spared a supreme hurling-book-at-wall moment (which would be quite a feat, considering I'm listening to the audiobook version on my computer, but "angrily-deleting-audiobook-file moment" doesn't pack as much punch) at the very end of the first part when Love Interest, who has committed frankly what I consider to be the most atrocious of all crimes in the book (the goblins can't help being evil! They were genetically created to be like that!), doesn't even get a slap on the wrist, but is forgiven utterly (hardly even forgiven, considering that besides maybe a scant couple of minutes by Slim, she's barely even reviled or deemed "UNFORGIVABLE" in the first place). Just like that. I mean, I don't actually hate Rya myself; she's really fairly interesting, as far as DK characters go; they're almost always completely good or completely evil, and will usually only make reprehensible choices when being brainwashed or something so as not to be responsible for their actions, so she's a rare beast indeed. However, come on; what she did was incredibly vile, and regardless of how she justifies it, and regardless of how much psychological torment she puts herself through over it, you can't just have the main character decide "I can't kill her! Then I'd be just like the goblins. *frowny face* No hard feelings? *hugs*" and expect the readers to accept that she's paid her dues. (And no, getting a little plastic surgery that changes her from "stunningly beautiful" to "very slightly less stunningly beautiful" and having to dye her hair are not even remotely punishments.)
And with that, I've just started the second half of the book (what I'm assuming to be what DK added several years after the initial publishing of the book). Already the story feels kind of overly long, and from what I've skimmed of other reviews, doesn't seem to actually help the story in anyway.
Had to take a break from it though, because the whole ridiculously easily forgiven aspect of one of the major characters made me want to tear my hair out, and I really didn't care to pick up on Slim and Rya's newly happily married selves in that state of mind. Hopefully there's a good dose of comeuppance in the second part, but...I highly doubt it. DK doesn't seem to have to guts to do it to Main Character's Super Hot Love Interest in general. Because, she's like, hot, man.
EDIT: Okay, having finished the latter half, overall it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. Overly long, but there were some interesting parts throughout it. Toward the very beginning, the hypocrisy was rather aggravating, what with Slim and Rya speaking so scornfully of the Kitty Genovese murder, or Rya bristling when the illegal arms dealer was suspicious of their trustworthiness, because now "she feels bad about what she did before, so that makes it all better!" and now they can feel morally superior, or something.
And as expected, Rya never gets her comeuppance (she gets banged up toward the end, but if Slim really does ass-pull himself a new psychic power right when he needs it to save her life, that doesn't count), however, luckily after their initial trip preparations the book eases up on the moral superiority and I was able to push my annoyance at the end of the first part out of my mind.
In the end, I suppose what I find the most boring of this story is, as usual, the good guys have no real loss to deal with at the end of it all. Sure, they had hard times when they were younger, but that was all backstory, and like with most DK books, the good guys never have to deal with any long-lasting ill effects of anything that they do during the story proper. One part that particularly comes to mind is the whole suddenly becoming a healer to save Rya when she's on the brink of death. It's not entirely clear whether this happens or not, Slim being delirious at the time, but I'd be willing to bet that that's exactly what happened, seeing as Koontz heroes aren't unknown to find themselves with some inexplicable last minute power out of nowhere. Okay, fine. But how about, in exchange for that miracle power, since it manages to save the only thing Slim honestly cares about (since he goes on and on about how life is pointless to live in Rya dies), he loses his Twilight Eyes? See, then we'd have a little of that loss, that give and take that characters should go through, otherwise they end up being too invincible and boring.
And still on that train of thought, they may not have permanently stopped the goblin plans, but even then the book doesn't end on a despairing note. They'll continue to fight the good fight, we can assume, and they'll probably eventually win it, even. Then again, if I expected the good guys to learn much from their prior mistakes, I really ought not to be reading DK. Still, certain cases seem more egregious than others, and this one probably fits in more with those.(less)
**spoiler alert** Fairly typical DK fare, at least in terms of tropes and descriptions used, though more intentionally goofy than most of his other bo...more**spoiler alert** Fairly typical DK fare, at least in terms of tropes and descriptions used, though more intentionally goofy than most of his other books I've read thus far. The main character not being just another white American (despite Tommy's ambitions to cast off most of his Asian heritage) is a nice touch. Not that there's anything wrong with one; however, probably 90% of any of the books I've completed that were written by an American author will, without fail, have a white person cast as the main character. A little diversity here and there would be nice.
What does make me raise an eyebrow would be the mentions of Tommy's fictional detective hero. His Mary Sue readings are off the charts, and so it amazes me that his books would be selling enough to allow Tommy to quit his reporter job, but then I guess people will read all sorts of crap. (Look at my Goodreads book list). ....Aaaand then DK introduces his own Mary Sue in the form of Del. She's beautiful, ridiculously rich but partakes in blue-collar work to simply "understand their suffering", which she dismisses Tommy's comments of it being insulting (which it rather is), is an arteest (it's what she is), can drive better than any stunt driver, has been handling firearms since before she hit double digits, can hotwire cars, boats, planes, trains (well, maybe not all of those, but I wouldn't be surprised), has a few forms of ESP, can play better poker than a man who's won the world poker tournament twice, and it's making me want to gag. I can ignore some of the more unabashed DK Mary Sues when they're really minor characters, but Del is the deuteragonist, so we're getting her crammed down our throats on a fairly regular basis. Honestly, if I were in her constant company, I likely would've put a bullet into my own head long ago...if not into hers first.
I know DK can't write women; I think maybe two or three of them have been decently interesting characters. However, if they're not a psychotic evil mother villain-type, then they're boringly good and often too perfect to be for real, with maybe one or two insignificant and gimmicky "faults" to try to round them out a bit (if even at all, often not even a fault but merely a quirk), especially if they're the wife or girlfriend of the main character. Del here is the crème de la crème of these Barbie dolls (well, maybe she's in a good competition with those twins from One Door Away From Heaven, though they at least weren't main characters), and that definitely isn't meant as a compliment, seeing as she's the number one reason I want to give up on this book (maybe about 2/3 through as of writing this).
Please stop with these ridiculous women. Focus more on ones like say, Chyna Shepard. She wasn't that bad at all.
EDIT: Okay, upon having finished the book, I now know that I really shouldn't have. It would've spared me a couple of hours of wanting to CLAW OUT MY OWN THROAT at every little oh-so quirky thing *playful punch to shoulder* Del or her mother said or did.
Capslock abuse to follow.
Alright. Having heard DK's afterward and now understanding what he was going for (a bit of his usual stuff, but with added Screwball Comedy! to lighten the mood from his previous novel), I will still say, sorry, but this was a piece of crap that read like badly-written fanfiction. How long have you been an author?
Tick Tock is honest to goodness "What the hell is going to happen next?" Dean Koontz creepiness for the first one-third of the book, with the creepy car radio, searching out the evil doll, haunted fax-machines, potential gang violence (at least in Tommy's head), his initial escape sequence. Then, we're introduced to Deliverence and any last remote bit of terror is flushed down the toilet, or perhaps drowned out by the sound of a farting hotdog toy. From then on it's just more and more buildup of how ridiculous this woman is, how insignificant Tommy's identity issues are (which gets wrapped up with one paragraph that is essentially "Mama Phan is old-fashioned and not American enough, therefore she's wrong; Tommy is a true American, free in spirit and therefore A-OK!!!!!", but that little bit of embarrassing nationalism is for another rant), or even his importantness as a main character (which, after Del shows up, is nothing more than an excuse for doll-turned-good-samaritan to chase after him and allow Del to show off even more of her ridiculous abilites).
This isn't melding genres together, it's writing two halves and simply sticking them together so that they're attached at the seams. Split 'em right down the middle though, and again you're left with two very distinct flavors that haven't really been blended together at all (maybe a little at the middle).
Sure, the book starts out with a funny conversation with Tommy and Mom, but then it heads right into typical Koontz creepiness until Del basically takes over the story. Some people may say "C'mon, the evil being starts out as a doll; that's not scary". Maybe not, but neither is it funny just because it's a doll, especially since it's not simply a doll that's running around after the heroes, all axe-crazy like. It morphs into this demonic little creature, which was reminding me of the Voodoo demons from Darkfall, a book that really didn't have cutesy comedy in mind. It can violently possess the bodies of other people, possibly eats other victims, sending their anguished screams reverberating through the night. Hey, is this supposed to be funny? 'Cuz it ain't. It's just flipping from a short blurb of funny (Mom convo) to creepy, and then it stays creepy for too long without any funny, then it goes into Super Mary Sue mode when focusing too much on Del (which is neither creepy nor funny; just extremely obnoxious and tedious). If you want something that blends genres well, you either need to interject a lot more funny between the creepier scenes, or come up with a far goofier, yet still potentially scary evil being, like Audrey II from the Little Shop of Horrors, or Gizmo's gremlin kin, not a doll that can become an unironic eldritch horror.
...Okay, I admit, when little evil dude is just beginning to make his way out of the rag doll and not yet reaching Darkfall Voodoo Demon Mode, I basically imagined Sackboy stabbing Tommy with pins. See, that could've been funny, if little evil dude just remained this cutesy little doll.
I think I've gone on more than long enough about how I don't think the story is blended well enough. If that were the only case, I wouldn't have minded so much. No, what really gets my goat with this book lies with the characters.
I've used the term up above already, but I'll try to go into a little more depth here: Mary Sue. It's a term primarily used among fandom circles, but I think it should become better known with actual literary circles, too. The meaning is pretty much spread all over the place so you'll get people who won't agree at all, but the way I use it, and what seems to be how most people use it, can be seen at its Wikipedia entry (yeah yeah, "lol Wikipedia", I know): A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. It is generally accepted as a character whose positive aspects overwhelm their other traits until they become one-dimensional.
That is, in a nutshell, Del. DK, in his afterward, mentioned crucial conventions that are "needed" in creating a successful screwball-comedy, which include a female foil to the befuddled male main character, a female foil who appears ditzy but is the wisest of wise (and for some reason, an heiress. More like, she needs to be rich so that the author has an easy deus ex machina for whenever the heroes need to do anything that'd require lots of money. Also, wish-fulfillment.)
Obviously, I completely disagree with his assessment as to what the female lead of a screwball comedy should be. Hell, any female lead should never be this. This is why Mary Sue should be more well known in literary circles, amongst authors: So that they DON'T. FREAKING. WRITE THEM. (You'd think that they should already know this).
See, if Del had actually been written almost exactly as she is, with all these amazing powers (SHE CAN. CURE. CANCER. WHAT. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.) on top of intelligence and beauty and riches and la-di-freaking-dah, only to, at the end, instead of being revealed as BABY GENETICALLY ENHANCED BY ALIENS, say, be a GIGANTIC ASSHOLE, or enjoys fornicating with animals, or for god's sake, farts loudly and constantly in her sleep, that would've been SOMETHING to dispel this ridiculous cloud of Amazing Perfect Wish-Fulfillment Woman that she has about her. Conversely, make her out to be a complete klutzy ditz (an actual ditz, no she is not an actual ditz in the story; she's largely esoteric in her conversations with Tommy to tease him) that only manages to hotwire vehicles and help them get away through sheer dumb luck, someone who everyone else may regard fondly but think her rather dim-witted, and maybe THEN we can accept the cancer-healing alien savior baby story.
However, you don't ever actually PLAY IT STRAIGHT and have her be as completely perfect as she is. YOU DON'T WRITE UNIRONIC MARY SUES unless you're about twelve years old and writing fanfiction either because you simply don't know any better, or just for fun (in which case you don't seriously publish it and make money off of it.)
IF. And a big if at that. IF you want to make her as straightly perfect as possible....then THE MAIN CHARACTER DOESN'T END UP WITH HER, OKAY? She is so perfect she will be unattainable. FOREVER. Main Character doesn't marry her 18 hours after meeting her and live together with her, forever, having lots of hot sex. Again, if he does, it's nothing but wish-fulfillment, not actually a story with serious issues or anything that needs considering. Hell, isn't that actually how a lot of screwball comedies turn out? The hero doesn't get the girl, like at all? There's gotta be SOME give and take here, not just take, take, take for the main character.
Anyway, a non-Mary Sue complaint I need to get off my chest about Del: Honestly, Koontz probably thinks she's witty; he says as much in the afterward, about how the characters in a good screwball comedy need to deliver plenty of good, deadpan zingers? No. Just, no. Del just needs to shut up. Her never-ending smartass quips are pointless and unfunny, regardless of what DK thinks. After a while, the other characters tend to ignore her asinine "witticisms" , perhaps because even Koontz realizes subconsciously that nothing Del says is actually humorous, therefore the other characters have no banter they can work off of.
Mama Phan, on the other hand, is almost constantly hilarious whenever she opens her mouth. And no, I'm not making fun of the poor grammar she's insisted on having. I don't get it. Mama Phan is actual proof that DK can (occasionally) write comical dialog. Then, towards the end when Mom and Del are talking, Del manages to ruin a lot of it with boring comebacks.
Continuing on with Mom, she's my favorite character in the story, though that's not saying much since everyone else is either insignificant (including the Main Character), or causes me to boil up with fiery, white-hot rage and disgust (Mary Sue, and to a lesser extent, her mother).
Mom could easily have been the most developed of them all (since it's obvious DK doesn't give a crap about making Tommy or Del well-rounded characters), learning from her mistakes, seeing that it's her overwhelming old-fashionedness that drove away Tommy and his younger sister and the whole mess with the Vietnamese magic, and that she could perhaps start relaxing a bit, because things really aren't that bad in the end. Instead, she and her friend are exactly the same after the dangerous run-in with little evil dude, trying to get Tommy to drink potions and stuff. Luckily, there's Del with her Mary Sue sensors to save Tommy from yet another curse! Naturally, as she understands all about Vietnamese curses, along with everything else ever in the world. No, Mom continues to be stubborn as a mule until Del and her equally ridiculous dog (because DK can't write a book without a near-magical dog! Do you know he actually wrote at least one book in which the only dogs were trained to kill by the Antagonist and that the protagonist has to fight them off, even kill them? What happened to the courage of writing outside your comfort zone?) show her some magic tricks and Mom does a complete 180, telling Tommy that he may be a supreme fuck-up, but his marriage to Del (which five seconds ago she was against) is the best thing he could have ever done?
That is the power of the Mary Sue. And it makes me gag.(less)
...would've been a much better title for the book. There wouldn't even need to have been any story. Suddenly, the...more**spoiler alert** .
...would've been a much better title for the book. There wouldn't even need to have been any story. Suddenly, there were sentient simians is about all you need to know about the book.
Alternatively, The Mary Sue Monkeys might also be acceptable.
I think this one takes the cake. THE worst DK book I've read yet. Your Heart Belongs to Me and The Darkest Evening of the Year should be proud; though they're still awful, awful things, I could almost say I'd rather reread either of them, but come near me with a copy of Breathless and I will drop you with a shotgun.
Warning: CAPS and italics abuse follow.
There's just...there's just no freaking point to ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS in the book, on top of everything else that's just STUPID about it.
The main characters...why are they main characters? What's the point of them? They are the ultimate versions of Generic Good but Personality-free DK Male Protagonist and Generic Good but Personality-free DK Female Protagonist, but at least most GGbP-fDKM/FP are a central point to the story. If Grady and Camille were to get a bullet put into their head within the very first paragraph each are introduced in, would anything about how the story turns out have changed? No, not one bit. It would've still turned out exactly the same, with the MAGICAL CREATURES POPPING FORTH INTO EXISTENCE and making humanity worthwhile through the sheer will of their BEING.
They don't even have any particular development in terms of personalities, but WHAM BANG, they get these RIDICULOUS TRAUMATIC BACK STORIES. Does it matter that Grady is a vet? Does he ever actually need to use his sniper skills within the book? He threatens one Precisely One-Dimensioned Supremely Cartoony Evil but Pointless Bad Guy with it, a "bad guy" who is as pointless as the two protagonists. Nothing he does has any ill and/or long-lasting consequences on ANYTHING that happens within the book; he's just there for DK to bitch about something.
I know he loves to rehash themes and tropes like he bought them in bulk at a fire sale, but the Super Drugged-Out Psycho Bitch Mom and her Evil Boyfriend (Occasionally Husband) of one of the female characters (and it is always a female character) has been done before, multiple times. At least those had some sort of bearing on the character. Does this affect Camille in any way? It causes her unpleasant memories exactly once, during an utterly pointless interrogation, and supposedly had some flimsy part in why she became a vet, but other than that? There was absolutely zero reason why she couldn't have had a perfectly normal life, with two perfectly normal loving parents, and turned out EXACTLY THE SAME.
..I just realized that Grady is a vet(eran) and Camille is a vet(erinarian). HO HO HO [/hollow laughter].
And to add to even MORE POINTLESSNESS, you spend the entire freaking book wondering how the hell Murderer Twin and Ugly Hobo (frankly, the only interesting character in the entire damn book. His entire ordeal probably could've been fleshed out and made into its own book. Which would've been better than this one.) are going to have their plot lines tied into the main story. THEY DON'T. Camille meets Murderer Twin to absolutely no negative consequence, and Ugly Hobo sees SUDDENLY, SIMIANS and ends up rescuing some random chick due to it, and THAT'S IT. THAT'S ALL, FOLKS. You cut out their subplots completely, and IT DOESN'T AFFECT HOW THE STORY PLAYS OUT. AT ALL. YET AGAIN.
EVERY GODDAMNED CHARACTER IN THIS GODDAMNED BOOK IS SO COMPLETELY INCONSEQUENTIAL TO THE ENTIRE STORY THAT THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING REASON FOR THIS BOOK TO EXIST AT ALL.
Here, go watch this gif for about three hours. You'll get more out of it than bothering to read this book.
At least the damn dog in this book wasn't a Golden Retriever. You know, I would love to read a DK book wherein the main dog is like...a Pomeranian. Or a Papillon. Or goddamn, a Chihuahua. It would be the best Koontz book ever.(less)
It was entertaining enough to kill a few hours, but it was pretty much 90% build up of character backstory and relationships that never go anywhere an...moreIt was entertaining enough to kill a few hours, but it was pretty much 90% build up of character backstory and relationships that never go anywhere and 10% slasher-horror flick (in book form) all at the very end.
Of all the Koontz books I've read thus far, The Taking seems closest to Phantoms in terms of major going-ons in the plot. However, despite Phantoms be...moreOf all the Koontz books I've read thus far, The Taking seems closest to Phantoms in terms of major going-ons in the plot. However, despite Phantoms being "the scariest book ever" for some people, according to some reviews, it failed in raising a single goosebump on me while reading it. The Taking, on the other hand, definitely disturbed me a number of times throughout...though the ending really failed to do the rest of the book much justice.(less)
**spoiler alert** If you're going to create such an unbeatable evil that the (incredibly bland) good guys need such a ridiculous deus ex machina to sa...more**spoiler alert** If you're going to create such an unbeatable evil that the (incredibly bland) good guys need such a ridiculous deus ex machina to save their sorry, powerless asses, maybe you shouldn't have created such an incredibly powerful evil being to begin with.
I'm really not someone with incredibly high standards; I'm easily entertained and am capable of some pretty generous suspensions of disbelief, but this was literally too much. An actual god, or benevolent spirit, or ghost dog, or whatever the hell it was, that allows the typical DK prodigy child to create an idea with Legos that allows time travel? Come on.(less)
**spoiler alert** This one was kind of disappointing, because it felt like it could've tried something new and different from every other book DK writ...more**spoiler alert** This one was kind of disappointing, because it felt like it could've tried something new and different from every other book DK writes, but in the end he stuck with more familiar territory.
The two main characters are 14-year old boys, the first obvious change from Koontz's usual formula. Colin, the "good" kid, is of the nerdy, geeky sort, who has difficulty making friends (and has a complete dickhole of a father, a subplot that doesn't really go anywhere), while Roy, the "bad" kid, is, on the outside, the most charming, charismatic kid anyone could meet (but a manipulative kid with a mean streak (to put it lightly) on the inside). This Roy decides to become friends with Colin, which completely baffles him, because why would someone as cool as Roy want Colin for a best friend, which leads to a little hero-worshiping and blind-eye turning whenever Roy says things that are a little disturbing or bullying.
So far, pretty interesting; DK, who normally only features adult main characters or ridiculously precocious preteens, has this interesting, teenage boy relationship dynamic going on. In fact, a number of their interactions have this odd, sexually-charged subtext feeling beneath it all, (and no, I'm not saying that as a slasher seeing boy/boy subtext everywhere).
And then the inevitable "betrayal" happens, when no, Colin will not in fact partake in any actual homicidal activities Roy has in mind, at which point their relationship loses all sense of subtlety and is simply Roy going "I'mma keel you now, beetch!" and Colin running for his life. C'mon, DK, you actually had something interesting and kind of deep going there.
The subtlety is further killed off when Colin develops a girlfriend (kind of out of nowhere) and Colin and she cook up a plan to catch Roy in one of his illegal acts (since he appears angelic to everyone who doesn't know him well). This in itself wouldn't have been too bad (though it kind of smacks of wish-fulfillment; the loner geek suddenly has a cute girlfriend), except by the end of it all, the characters have lost a lot of that kid-feel that they'd developed in the earlier part of the book. By the climax, Colin kind of felt like just about every other late-20s/early-to-mid-30s male main character DK has take charge of his stories, with an extra helping of machismo and "I gotta protect my girl" attitudes that just felt silly and a little aggravating when you remember this is a geeky boy who liked to collect sci-fi and horror paraphernalia and put it all over his room(less)
Though I found this much easier to read than his later books, where DK tends to wax poetic in every other sentence he writes, I failed to find it frig...moreThough I found this much easier to read than his later books, where DK tends to wax poetic in every other sentence he writes, I failed to find it frightening.(less)
**spoiler alert** Okay. We get it. You like dogs. Frankly, this felt more like an infomercial program on adopting dogs with some mediocre story slappe...more**spoiler alert** Okay. We get it. You like dogs. Frankly, this felt more like an infomercial program on adopting dogs with some mediocre story slapped in than an actual fictional novel. All these random facts about how Golden Retrievers are abused and need forever homes...I suppose that's why so many people have this shelved under "horror", right? Because of the horrors that befall pets that Koontz has decided to devote pages and pages of information on? I had no idea what to label the genre of this book as, myself. I mean, I failed to find it horrific, or thrilling or chilling, or particularly mysterious or anything else similar. Sure, it has some weird supernatural elements to it, but flying angel dogs aside, it doesn't focus much on that (being too busy dishing out pet-buying propaganda intermixed with boring characters and their boring lives.)
Actually, speaking of weird, supernatural elements, what the hell was the deal with...I don't even remember his name, he was so dull, Amy's boyfriend's dream about him being born in a tornado and the significance of the well-made bed? Even if Amy's dog was possessed by her angel-daughter (...lol) to come miraculously help them, the dog didn't have anything to do with tornado-birth. Talk about pointless.
When the book wasn't dealing with poor, poor Goldens, it was detailing a bunch of extremely forgettable characters. Boyfriend whose name isn't even memorable is just, well, dull. I never got a good grasp on Amy's characterization either, other than that she REALLY FREAKING LOVES DOGS, and beyond her being a typical Good Person (who loves dogs) in a Dean Koontz world, there wasn't much to, well, give a damn about her. Her years married to Michael probably would've been a much more interesting read, but we're pretty much just given a short blurb in a chapter or two. I'm getting a little tired of these good, boring main characters in DK's books. The two villains were equally boring, and even more one-dimensional and I just didn't CARE about them.
You know what would make an interesting story? Maybe if DK made the main characters much, MUCH more flawed characters. Vern, the detective who shits in other people's toilet bowls without flushing while being a little too addicted to Second Life, and his buddy who thinks he's down with all the hip lingo; they would have made an interesting read. They definitely would've made unusual main characters, and it would've been a lot more difficult to predict which direction the story would go if it had centered on them.
I'm not difficult to entertain; even most mediocre books all have something that I can enjoy in it, warranting it at least two stars on the Goodreads scale, but this book? ...Yeah, no. (less)