Johnny's Reviews > False Memory

False Memory by Dean Koontz
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Jul 09, 10

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Read from June 29 to July 08, 2010 , read count: 5

** spoiler alert ** “False Memory” feels like the culmination of decades’ worth of Koontz’s stories. Even though everything sounds very familiar, there’s such a depth to this story that makes it more than just another brainwashing tale.

Martie Rhodes, helping out a friend with agoraphobia by driving her to her therapist, suddenly finds herself victim of a phobia of her own: autophobia, fear of one self. Meanwhile, her husband Dusty discovers something peculiar with his half brother Skeet. Together they stumble on a brainwashing conspiracy by a villain who wants some payback for some nasty stuff Dusty’s parents did to him

Lots of characters in this novel, lots of dialogue both internal as external. Everybody we meet has an aura of realness around them. The main characters we get to know through and through, with particular attention of course to their experiences with the phobias. “Strangers” already had very good descriptive scenes of the panic attacks, but “False Memory” takes it not one, but several steps further.

However, if you have already encountered the subject of brainwashing or its varieties in books like “Night Chills”, “Strangers”, “The Key to Midnight”, “The Door to December” and “The House of Thunder”, then the story lacks that extra touch of terror. It’s not completely unkown terrain and you can grasp what’s happening pretty early on. I imagine that for someone who hasn’t read those older books, “False Memory” will be genuinely terrifying.

The characters experiencing missing time reminded me of that scene in “Dragon Tears”, where the villain stops time and puts a gun barrel in Harry Lyon’s mouth over and over again. The whole brainwashing situation and Mark Ahriman taking advantage of Susan is close to a carbon copy of Ogden Salsbury’s plans in “Night Chills”. “False Memory” was written more than twenty years later, and thus is more sophisticated in its execution. The more global scheme in “Night Chills”, taking possession of the entire town of Black River, the conspiracy with the scientist and his financial benefactor, has been minimalized for “False Memory”, and the concept works far better and is more believable in this compact form.

Mark Ahriman himself is the most colorful character. As a villain he’s simply repulsive in all regards. I hated him the most when he takes on the role of sexy beast, rolling up his sleeves to display his muscular and hairy forearms, swinging his coat over his back … Ugh … Of course his other actions speak for themselves; he’s not a man but a large teenage boy playing games and taking everything he can get his hands on, an educated Roy Borden not so much with an obsession to kill, but to overpower his fellow human beings. He sees the rest of the world as objects, not as real persons, and he’s totally pushed off balance when they do something he hasn’t expected.

The most annoying characters are Dusty’s mother, stepfather and stepbrother. They are so otherworldy, completely lacking a grasp of reality. They sit in their ivory tower thinking they rule the world and that who they are is enough to make them untouchable.

The Keanuphobe is kind of like a deux-ex-machina key figure. There’s no saying what would’ve happened if she hadn’t shown up. Probably Skeet would be dead, and the following shootout between Ahriman and the Rhodes’ could have had any outcome.

“False Memory” is a well-rounded story that kinda closes off an era of Koontz books. After this, Koontz goes in totally different directions with more religiously flavored books on the one hand and high concept thrillers in the other.
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Reading Progress

06/30/2010 page 40
6.0% "You're a pimple on the ass of humanity."
07/04/2010 page 264
42.0% "Man. Ow. The ultimate insult. Listen, if you ever call me a man again ... I don't know, it could mean we're through."
07/04/2010 page 339
54.0% "If the Camaro ever broke down, he appeared to be capable of carrying it to the garage."

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