Johnny's Reviews > By the Light of the Moon

By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz
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's review
Aug 27, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: own-it
Read from August 13 to 26, 2010 , read count: 4

** spoiler alert ** Brothers Dylan and Shep O’Connor find themselves at the same motel as standup comedian Jillian Jackson when they’re all assaulted by a mysterious man with a syringe up his sleeve. They’re injected with a mysterious fluid, soon after which they start manifesting extraordinary powers.

I don’t know whether it’s coincidence or not, but not that long after director M. Night Shyamalan released a new movie, Koontz came out with a book with a somewhat similar premise. “By the Light of the Moon” is the first of such books, in that it follows the movie “Unbreakable” as a superhero genesis story.

I love how the book immediately starts with the action. There’s barely a build-up, only a very short introduction of the characters. Instead we get to know them through their reactions as the events unfold. The story is somewhat high concept but strays from the straightforward thriller format in its content matter.

The story’s chapters switches point of view between Dylan and Jillian. These are our main protagonists, but they aren’t the typical Koontz heroes we know of old. They’re normal people without any special background to help them out with the obstacles they face. They are pulled into this adventure by pure chance and are then forced to make the right choices. Reading this story, I don’t as much picture it in my head as a movie the way I usually do, but more as a computer adventure game where different choices and fast decisions are an essential part of the gameplay.

Koontz creates a combination of a random scientific development (in this case nanobots) with supernatural elements (the powers our heroes obtain) and his favorite subject of quantum physics (Shep’s portals). The regular Koontz reader should be well acquainted with the supernatural angle, and people who’ve read and love “From the Corner of His Eye” will be thrilled to witness the new perceptions of “the round and round of all that is”.

It’s amazing how Koontz’s description of how Shep’s folding actually works totally fits with the abilities first introduced in “From the Corner of His Eye” and later on further applied in the “Frankenstein” series. Deucalion has the same perception of reality as Shep does; however Koontz never really explains Deucalion’s ability in the way he has done here.

When I first read the scene with Dylan and Shep in the bathroom, I felt at the same time terrified and excultant. I had this feeling that Koontz was going to take the story in that particular direction, and the excitement of actually seeing that possibility come to fruition was the best reading experience I had in ages.

I’ve heard people respond to Koontz for having created such a realistic case of autism in Shep. For someone who is once in a while jokingly addressed as having autism, he’s a very intriguing character. Dylan is your typical big brother, and I always picture him of having a lesser physique, the better to personify with him. I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a long time to realize Jilly is black. As a standup comedian, I don’t really find her that funny; which is odd because Koontz usually has a great sense of humor. Or perhaps that’s only because this book has to follow the hilarious character interactions of “One Door Away From Heaven”.

This book is a great example of a trick Koontz is starting to apply, in that a character which seems to be nothing more than an extra turns out to be of far more importance later on. Parish Lantern, radio talk show host, ends up as some kind of Professor Xavier, leading and training his fellow X-Men. The novel’s ending in itself is a big disappointment simply because it’s stops right when the fun should start, same as with the movie “Unbreakable”. Closing the book, I’m always left imagining a sequel, in a similar way as I do with “Cold Fire”. In fact, my imaginary piece of fan fiction would let the characters from both books meet up; of course the result wouldn’t be a Koontz book anymore but instead some kind of Sam Raimi movie production.

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