Johnny's Reviews > Shattered

Shattered by K.R. Dwyer
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Nov 19, 2010

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** spoiler alert ** If Koontz released "Shattered" today, I don't think anyone would know the difference. I even think many people would prefer it over his new books. Here we have a true high concept story, but with an element of mystery, strangeness, occultness, … which is usually present in many a favorite Koontz novel but sadly enough missing from straightforward thrillers like “Velocity”, “The Husband” and “The Good Guy”.

The premise of this story is once again quite simple: guy and girl marry and move from Pennsylvania to California. Girl flies ahead to get the new house in order, guy drives the car across the country together with the girl’s 11 year old brother. Guy and brother are then tyrannized by girl’s old suitor along the way.

It’s kinda like Steven Spielberg’s “Duel”, except with two people in the car and an Automover van instead of a truck, and many more scenes at diners and motels.

What makes it so special, is the mental condition of said suitor. This villain suffers from some kind of disorder, presumably a brain tumor, which makes him far more dangerous than your average ex-boyfriend. Aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, amnesia, it’s all there. You almost feel sorry for the guy, because you get this feeling tht him behaving in this violent way isn’t really his conscious fault. He wasn’t born evil, he hasn’t become evil due to a bad childhood or something. If one of his fuses hadn’t blown, if his wiring hadn’t short-circuited, nothing would have happened.

The main character Alex Doyle is your average Koontz hero. A simple guy, no special skills, minding his own business, trying to live his life to the best of his abilities, until he suddenly finds himself in a situation in which he’s forced to act in ways he never imagined were in his range. Compare him to Mitch Rafferty in “The Husband”, Jimmy Tock in “Life Expectancy”, Dusty Rhodes in “False Memory” or Tommy Phan in “Ticktock”.

His comedy sidekick is his young brother in law, Colin, whose presence is good for some great dialogue. But Colin is a lot more: he works as a mirror for Alex and helps him realize that he must stop being a little kid himself and act as a grown up human being.

I think this appeals to many male readers. Once in a while we look in the mirror and are amazed by the amount of wrinkles in the face, the gray in the hair, the weariness in the eyes. Because just below the surface, we all still feel like ten year old kids running around with our toys and playing with our friends.

But which fiction do we follow? The stories that teach us to finally grow up, get over our fears and face the world? Or the stories that tell us to stop thinking all that matters in life is money or a career and make us remember our childhood?
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