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Whispers
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Stand Alone Novels 1980-1985 > Whispers (Group Read - June 2013)

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message 1: by Jaice (last edited Feb 26, 2011 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments Ironically, I just read this Koontz novel during my trip to the Los Angeles area for a conference. This is ironic because the story takes place primarily in L. A., which made for an amusing coincidence. This book lacks all the supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction elements that so many Koontz stories have and that make them so enjoyable for me (usually); however, I still found that I enjoyed this story quite a bit. It has the typical Koontzian romance between a lonely, very good, intelligent guy (a detective...surprise, surprise) and a very independent, good, and intelligent woman with an emotionally traumatic past, who fall madly in love over the course of a week, while in danger from a murderous psychopath. On several occasions, the story implies that there is some supernatural underpinning, but the implications are always deceptive. Despite the recurring Koontzian themes and characters (or, perhaps partly because of them), I think this novel makes for an enjoyable read and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


William (wmcc) Whispers is one i have really been wanting to read.I have heard it's one of his truly creepy horror books in the style of Phantoms and Midnight.I hope to read it soon.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments William wrote: "...I have heard it's one of his truly creepy horror books in the style of Phantoms and Midnight..."

I wouldn't say that. I would put The Taking and Winter Moon in that vein though. Those 2 and the 2 you mentioned make 4 of my very favorite Koontz books. Whispers is one of his psycho serial killer books, not particularly creepy.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments There's a great creepy scene in Whispers, when the title is exclaimed. It's definitely a highlight.

On the whole, I found this book to be extremely overwrought. I'm one of the people who appreciate Koontz because of his attention to detail and his vivid descriptions of nature and surroundings, but Whispers could easily lose a hundred pages. Koontz's earlier fiction was much more taunt and lean - Night Chills and The Vision, even the books he released under a pseudonym - The Face of Fear and The Voice of The Night. In Whispers, Koontz devotes a substantial amount of space to the habits of characters that don't appear in more than one paragraph, describes the life of their families, the color of wallpaper in a bathroom...the suspense is suffocated by the endless amount of completely needless exposition.

Unfortunately, it also suffers from Koontz's traditional flaws: his ineptitude at creating believeable characters and his tin ear for dialogue. The characters are all cardboard puppets and their dialogue is basically composed of contrasting sentences: I won't make it/Yes, you will etc. that goes on and on.

The best thing about this book is the explanation of the titular Whispers, but it comes way too late and by that time any tension that might have developed has completely vanished. I looked forward to this title because I like Koontz's fiction from the 80's and this is often mentioned as a favorite, but was sorely disappointed.


William (wmcc) Jason "plasborgma" wrote:

I wouldn't say that. I would put The Taking and Winter Moon in that vein though...."


The Taking was the first koontz book i read,I found it a little dull and was disappointed with the ending,maybe need to reread it.Yet to read Winter Moon,I'll need to read that one if it's good and creepy.I'll maybe put Whispers a little further down the TBR pile after reading yours and Maciek's post,although i am quite partial to psycho serial killer books,LOL.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments William wrote: "The Taking was the first koontz book i read,I found it a little dull and was disappointed with the ending,maybe need to reread it...."

I'm surprised to hear that you or anyone could find The Taking dull. I can understand your disappointment in its ending (I know Maciek disagrees), as I felt it somewhat also.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments To be honest, it's been some years since I've read it and I don't know how it would hold up (I'm talking about The Taking). I think that the idea is excellent, but the execution is up to debate.


William (wmcc) I found the characters dull,I usually love Koontz antagonist's,but he just didn't seem as scary or fit in with the story.I did give it 3 stars when i read it 2 years ago,so maybe I'm been a little unfair.I do really like end of the world stories,I just think with better characterisation it would have been a lot better book IMO.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments William wrote: "...I just think with better characterisation it would have been a lot better book IMO."

I think that could be said for many of his books, unfortunately. I know Mac will agree. :-)


message 10: by Maciek (last edited Feb 25, 2011 12:07PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Jason "plasborgma" wrote: "William wrote: "...I just think with better characterisation it would have been a lot better book IMO."

I think that could be said for many of his books, unfortunately. I know Mac will agree. :-)"


Oh, you know me so well. ;)

I think that the serial killer subplot in The Taking was completely redundant, as it didn't add anything to the plot. But you've got to fill up the space somehow, eh?

A bit of trivia: Whispers was the last book where Koontz used psychological causes as the motivation for his antagonist = horrible childhood equals doing bad things as a grownup. I've read an interview with him where he said that he believes in evil at atomic level, an evil gene if you prefer, so that's why he now uses reverse freudianism - his positive characters
have horrible childhoods and are all saints when they're adults and the antagonists had great childhoods and are just evil because they have evil genes.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments Maciek wrote: "...I think that the serial killer subplot in The Taking was completely redundant, as it didn't add anything to the plot...."

I agree.

Maciek wrote: "...A bit of trivia: Whispers was the last book where Koontz used psychological causes as the motivation for his antagonist = horrible childhood equals doing bad things as a grownup. I've read an interview with him where he said that he believes in evil at atomic level, an evil gene if you prefer, so that's why he now uses reverse freudianism..."

That is interesting. I noticed that about his stories, but never heard him say anything about it.


message 12: by Maciek (last edited Feb 25, 2011 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments This is the interview I was referring to:
http://reason.com/archives/1996/11/01...
"Contemplating Evil
Novelist Dean Koontz on Freud, fraud, and the Great Society"

Here's the quote:

"What we do as a society is seek simple answers. Freudianism is a simple answer: If what everybody does is simply a result of what was done to them as a child by their parents, or their culture, then they're not really responsible. All we have to do is put them through a 12-step program and they'll cease being a serial killer or whatever. That's so grossly simplistic. And yet it has dominated the thinking of our century, especially our legal system."

It's inspiring to read about people overcoming their horrible childhoods and leading normal lives. But at the same time it's funny because Koontz seems to ignore completely the fact that abused children often do pass on those behaviors: children of sex abusers often become sex abusers themselves or at the very least are acting out dangerously during sexual intercourses, victim of physical abuse often become abusers too. Koontz seems bound to ignore this fact completely and disregards everyone who acknowledges it. This is really puzzling. How a man who writes character for a living and describes his fiction as character oriented is not aware of how extremely narrow-minded his theory is?

Besides, most psychologist don't say that a violent past excuses particular actions person - it's just an attempt to understand why they were comitted.


message 13: by Maciek (last edited Feb 25, 2011 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Also, another one:

" I made a conscious decision to stop writing Freudian characters because I realized that the best characters I've ever read are in Dickens, and he never heard of Freud."

Now, I don't know if it's just ignorance on his part or simple refusal to acknowledge certain facts. Estella from Great Expectations is unable to love because of her childhood; and Madame Defarge is the antagonist of A Tale of Two Cities because of what happened to her and her family when she was young. Dickens has never heard of Freud, but still he knew something Koontz refuses to acknowledge to this day: that some people aren't able to overcome their past.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments I find it very ironic that he calls "Freudian" theory (this is not well described as Freudian theory, though Freud seems to have incorporated it into some of his theories) simplistic, whereas his is just as simplistic, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is the age old nature vs. nurture (i.e., genetics vs. environment) debate, where he claims Freud erroneously took the side of nurture/environment and he, Koontz, correctly takes the side of nature/genetics. That is idiotic. Psychologists and other scientists have realized for several decades that it is both, not one or the other. According to his nature/genetics only theory, people lack just as much responsibility for their actions as those under the opposite "Freudian" theory, because they can simply say they had no choice, because their genes made them do it. That is nothing but hogwash. Many people overcome the influence of their genetics to do good/bad things, just as many people overcome the influence of their (childhood) environments to do good/bad things. Behavior does not come from one or the other, but both--there is no absolute.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Well, Koontz is no sissy moral relativist. He believes that there are GOOD people and there are BAD people, and that's pretty much it.
Unfortunately as opposed to what you wrote he really seems to believe in an absolute division between good and evil. This is a shame; no one now regards him seriously and he became the butt of jokes on Family Guy and Robot Chicken.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments Maciek wrote: "Well, Koontz is no sissy moral relativist...."

Are you calling moral relativists sissies? :-P

Maciek wrote: "...This is a shame; no one now regards him seriously and he became the butt of jokes on Family Guy and Robot Chicken."

Really?


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Who? Me? No way. ;)

http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/Fami...

The segment starts at about 1:00.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments Maciek wrote: "Who? Me? No way. ;)
http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/Fami...
The segment starts at about 1:00."


Good, because I thought I was going to have to fly to Poland and put a few lumps on your head for that. ;-) I'll watch that clip once I get home from the lab--thanks.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments No problem. It's a fun episode in its entirety.

There was also an episode of Robot Chicken. This is the clip:
http://video.adultswim.com/robot-chic...
This is way more hilarious than the Family Guy one, IMHO.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments Did the first clip only show Koontz getting run over by Brian? I like in the second one how the one police officer said "What a tragedy: we've lost one of America's...authors" after King ran him over. :-D I don't like how they portrayed Koontz in the second one, though I think the portrayal of King was good.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Yes, that's pretty much it. Also I remember a short lived TV series "Stark Raving Mad" where one of the characters is a horror author, and Koontz is his biggest nemesis because he writes so many books. He constantly drops lines such as "Koontz has a new book? Man...the first of the month really sneaks up on you." :D


William (wmcc) I think when certain authors hit the big time,like Koontz,they start to get so full of their own self importance.I think he has also been guilty of being a little too preachy on the books I've read.Having said that i think he is a brilliant author,i have enjoyed mostly everything i have read by him.Velocity arrived today,really looking forward to it.


Jaice Cooperrider (plasborgma) | 1299 comments William wrote: "...I think he has also been guilty of being a little too preachy on the books I've read.Having said that i think he is a brilliant author,i have enjoyed mostly everything i have read by him...."

I agree with both aspects of this statement.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments I think it's an age thing. He's not that young anymore, and he most certainly doesn't have to worry about bills. So he writes as if the world depended on his soapboxing. Which is a shame; whatever good things he wrote he keeps burying under a pile or rubbish released constantly 2 or 3 times a year.


Maciek (pan_maciej) | 666 comments Because I can.


message 26: by Jen (new)

Jen | 31 comments It's that multi-faceted thing. Koontz has become a bit soapboxy over the years; however, some of his writing techniques are quite keen. I'll keep reading.


message 27: by Kelsey (last edited Mar 18, 2011 04:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelsey (thebestthereis07) I'm editing my original comment because I just finished Whispers this morning. While its not going to be one of my favorites, I did really enjoy it.

I wasn't that impressed with Bruno Frye. He didn't really scare me like I had hoped he would. He was just one of those villains that didn't really get to me. However, I did enjoy Tony and Hilary. Most of the time I really enjoy his characters. They are happy and simple and its always nice to feel like you are rooting for a truely GOOD person. Its just... ehh.. pleasant.

Overall, like I said it won't be in my top 5 but I really enjoyed it and I feel like this will be one of those books I miss reading later on:)


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "Nonetheless, the book was great and a fun read"

Good to know because I simply haven't been that anxious to read Whispers.


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "Don't talk to my sister then. She hated that book."

Yes. I remember :-)


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "She hasn't been on in forever....."

I've noticed :-)


William (wmcc) I just finished this one last night,I was a little disappointed in this one.I was expecting more due to some of the reviews my friends had given it.I just felt it was overwritten and drawn out,having said that i loved the super creepy explanation of the whispers at the end,overall not a bad read,3 stars,but IMO it was just unnecessarily long.


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Whispers has been selected as our June 2013 Group Read (along with Deeply Odd :-) This means I will be reading two Dean Koontz books that I have not read before. Exciting times!


message 33: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments I just placed my interlibrary loan/purchase request for my library to get a copy of it for me! :-) Hopefully they'll find one by the time June gets here. ;-)


Rachel | 94 comments woot woot- I have been wanting to read this one for a long time- I think it's gonna be creepy!


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
I own Whispers so I shall be reading this :-)


message 36: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly | 71 comments I know this one isn't until June, but I started early. I couldn't resist. :-)


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Holly wrote: "I know this one isn't until June, but I started early. I couldn't resist. :-)"

You are such a rebel :-) Good for you!


message 38: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly | 71 comments Lol, thanks Dustin


message 39: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly | 71 comments Wow, what an intense ride....


message 40: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments I have Whispers out from the library thanks to Interlibrary Loan. I need to read it this coming week, as it's due back next Saturday. I've been avoiding Koontz since finishing False Memory in early May. It took a lot out of me, more than I realized even.

But I have promised myself to read Whispers before I have to return it, so hopefully I'll get back into a Koontz groove soon. :-)


message 41: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly | 71 comments It's a great read Jen!


message 42: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments Holly wrote: "It's a great read Jen!"

Katie wrote: "It's great, you won't be disappointed. It is a little graphic in some parts, but overall CREEPY!!!"

Thanks for the encouragement, you two! I plan to start it tomorrow. :-)


message 43: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments Today's the day! I'm going to start Whispers! :-)


message 44: by Jen (last edited Jun 05, 2013 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments Finished! And I'm so glad I read it! I really liked and enjoyed it, and read it in two sittings (Monday night and Tuesday - last - night). :-)

The story was suspenseful and full, the characters were engaging, and the mysteries were fun to solve. I was a little disappointed that it took Hilary and Tony so long to think that Mr. Frye might have (view spoiler). Even if that wasn't likely according to what they knew about him, I still thought they should have thought of it sooner. But I suppose not having them think of this sooner was a way for Koontz to ratchet up the suspense. The other thing I didn't really care for was the final encounter (view spoiler). After all that build-up, it was a bit of a let-down, for me at least.

But these few dissatisfactions weren't enough to spoil Whispers. As it turned out, this was an excellent novel to break my reluctance to read a Koontz title after finishing False Memory. (Please note that I don't mean to say this latter title was bad; it just took a lot out of me, but in a good way.)


message 45: by Jen (last edited Jun 05, 2013 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments One thing I forgot to share...the author picture of Koontz in the back doesn't really resemble him at all! The edition I read was published in 1980, and in the photo he has a full beard and mustache, and short-cropped hair with a pronounced widow's peak. I would never had recognized him! I added the photo to his author page here.
Dean Koontz - 1980


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Jen says she didn't notice any sex scenes. I am wondering if we read the same book :-)


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Finished. Listened to a good part of it on audiobook while I've been painting my new little condo that I just bought this month :-)

I liked Whispers much more than I expected. I initially rated it 4 stars, but I may need to upgrade it to 5 stars. The cockroaches and worms were great!


Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 6034 comments Mod
Jen, that is a really old copy of Whispers that you are reading to find that author photo :-) My edition has Den without a mustache/beard and with a Golden Retriever. I think Dean Has about three different identities and you have his earliest, while I have the latest on my copy. His middle identity author photo has no hair on top of his head, no beard, no Golden Retriever, but a mustache.


message 49: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen (reader44ever) | 283 comments Dustin Crazy little brown owl wrote: "Finished. Listened to a good part of it on audiobook while I've been painting my new little condo that I just bought this month :-)

I liked Whispers much more than I expected. I initially rated i..."


Dustin Crazy little brown owl wrote: "Jen, that is a really old copy of Whispers that you are reading to find that author photo :-) My edition has Den without a mustache/beard and with a Golden Retriever. I think Dean Has about three d..."

Dustin Crazy little brown owl wrote: "Jen says she didn't notice any sex scenes. I am wondering if we read the same book :-)"

Wow, that's a lot of updates! I'm glad you enjoyed it even more this time around. :-)

And I really did read it, I just probably skimmed over any sex scenes, and besides, didn't you say "overabundant sex scenes"? I don't remember any, let alone a numerous enough amount to qualify as overabundant. (Unless, of course, just one is "overabundant.")

And I'm fairly sure the copy I read was published in 1980. I'd have to check to be sure, though. :-)


Matīss (massiveyez) | 26 comments It was my first book with so clear sex scenes. OK, maybe second, if The Exorcist counts.


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