Johnny's Reviews > Breathless

Breathless by Dean Koontz
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's review
May 25, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: own-it
Read from December 02 to 04, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 2

** spoiler alert ** I don’t know whether it’s because I’d been waiting almost six months to read this novel or what, but I expected more out of “Breathless”. All in all it’s a cool “what-if” story, where two never-seen-before animals enter the lives of our main characters; and that’s actually all that can be said about the plot without giving anything away. But even while Koontz tries harder than in his other recent novels to give these characters more background, he still falls short of what long-time readers are used of him.

Finishing the book, the first other Koontz novel that came to mind was “The Taking”. I can’t really explain why, and even mentioning this title might already be considered some kind of spoiler. But instead of a semi-horror story about a possible alien invasion, “Breathless” is more upbeat, more of a Genesis counterpart to “The Taking”s Revelations.

For the first 200 pages, the novel is kinda slow. The main characters are introduced, the animals show up, but nothing significant really happens. The opening chapter felt like “Winter Moon”, only more fairy-talish than SF-horror. The second chapter almost tricked me into believing I was reading a Stephen King book; so many new character names in only two pages! But almost none of them ever return. And of course the dogs gave me a feeling of reading “Darkest Evening” all over again, but their presence made a great introduction of a mystery.

Henry Rouvroy is introduced as this novel’s villain, somewhat similar to Junior Cain in “From the Corner of His Eye”, but his personal story never really connects with the main storyline, other than one chance encounter near the end. His villainness is always up for debate; sure, he has succeeded in killing two people but he doesn’t really come over as a menace, but more as a very confused and psychologically disturbed individual. It’s like a lot depends on luck with this guy, he comes over as insecure and even though he knows what he has to do, he kinda looks like a bumbling idiot.

Perhaps Henry’s story’s only function is misdirection. At one point I started thinking perhaps the animals had reached some kind of higher awareness and intelligence, and they were the ones fooling with him. Another theory I had involved a writing trick where his storyline might actually have taken place much earlier than the others and that at the end of the book, it would explain everything that happened in the other storylines, but throughout the book you wouldn’t notice the chronology is off. Luckily the role of villain is taken over after page 200 by a Homeland Security official, the only character I truly felt was great in his role.

Then there’s Tom Bigger, another character with his own quest who never touches upon the main storyline, even with his own experience with animals acting out of character. All of this seems evidence to me that “Breathless” is a Koontz novel where you have to read the story tucked away between the lines to really understand it. If you just stare yourself blind at the action that takes place and the dialogue, you’ll end up feeling lost. After a second reading I’m still left in the dark. Right now I feel that at least 1/3 of the book should have the extra storylines cut and instead elaborate on the main one.
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12/02/2010 page 50
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Becky Sure he does, he saw the two animals appear out of nowhere and that's what helped him to experience redemption and kindness in the world and led him to stop evil of other men.

Johnny Becky wrote: "Sure he does, he saw the two animals appear out of nowhere and that's what helped him to experience redemption and kindness in the world and led him to stop evil of other men."

Do you mean Tom Bigger? He actually saw them appear? Wow, I can't believe I missed that even after reading it twice. Do you know what page that's on? I really should re-read this again but I already have a big to-read pile! :)

Becky It's in the ending pages when he is talking to his father I believe or somewhere areound there. That was the big event that started his whole crusade and to answer another query about the wolves I believe that whatever is behind the creatures appearing meant for them to protect him on his journey to save the wife and find redemption for himself by ( the nice people he met who helped him for no reason and finally reuniting with his parents). All the animals were aware of the events happening all over the world that is why they stared strangely and seemed happy. Animals in reality can sense things we can't eg weather events, sickness, etc.

Johnny I'll look it up! Thanks for enlightening me! I'll definitely keep this in mind when I read it again.

Becky You are very welcome!

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