Christopher Lawson's Reviews > The City

The City by Dean Koontz
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it was amazing

♫ Dean Koontz Weaves a Tale of Jazz, Friendship, and Murder

This is a complicated book with a profound theme. THE CITY interweaves jazz, philosophy, friendship, and of course, murder. The main character is Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk—or just “Jonah” as he is known. The story unfolds as Jonah tells his story to his jazz friend, “Malcolm.”

Jonah is a young, poor black kid in “The City,” which is a generic moniker for someplace akin to New York City. Jonah was subjected to two terrifying nightmares, filled with scary figures and murder. What is Jonah to make of these visions? A shadowy, but kind visitor, carrying a mysterious purse visits Jonah. Miss Pearl is the personification of The City, and the City is worried about the path of history. Miss Pearl will help Jonah—but only a little, and only at rare times.

As he grows up, Jonah gets little clues on what the dreams meant. Along the way, he meets an odd assortment of characters—the Japanese tailor Mr. Yoshioka, a funnily-dressed jazz musician--Malcolm, and Malcolm’s sister. They make an unlikely musical trio, jamming on the piano that suddenly appears in the community center. The whole time, little hints of upcoming disaster play at the edges, reminding Jonah that he plays a special destiny in the City.

The story unfolds, at first slowly, but then suddenly, to a terrifying climax that engulfs Jonah and his friends. The bad dreams come true—or at least some parts of them do, in tragic fashion. Later, Jonah looks back to his visit with Miss Pearl, and his look into her mysterious purse, and he understands not everything—but a little more. Jonah understands that he is not a puppet of fate, and the City is not doomed to disaster.

This is not a simple read--there are no ghosts wandering around, no invisible golden retrievers, no spirit of Elvis Presley seeking closure from a prescient seer. If you are prepared for a complex book, with significant demands on the reader, this one is for you. On the other hand, if you want a superficial, trite work or quick read--look elsewhere.

As a funny side note, I see that Koontz’ love for Robert Heinlein is back, as the main character reads the same Heinlein novels as in other Koontz novels. (I’m really going to have to read “Podkayne of Mars” and “The Star Beast.”)

✔ Recommend!

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 23, 2014 – Shelved
June 23, 2014 – Finished Reading

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