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review 2018-07-19 16:36
When Koontz Does Comedy
Tick Tock - Dean Koontz

Not going to lie, when I first read this years ago I actually loved it. I see the weaknesses now in the re-read though and gave this four stars. Also there is a dog and I just maybe sighed so hard I caused my poor cat's fur to ruffle. Aside: Not my fault she likes to get close when I am reading. Tick Tock actually shows that Koontz has a sense of humor. There are parts of this that are funny though when you find out the why behind this mess you are going to shake your head. 

 

"Tick Tock" has Tommy Phan on the run for his life. Tommy is a successful writer who is dealing with his mother's constant disappointment that he is not a traditional Vietnamese son. Due to his success she is upset that Tommy has forgotten where he has come from. Tommy comes home and finds a rag doll on his steps and stupidly decides to bring it inside with him. When the doll turns into something monstrous, Tommy finds himself on the run from it along with a weird woman named Deliverance who seems to know more than she is letting on and her dog she calls Scottie. If Tommy can live til dawn, the rag doll monster thing won't be able to hurt him. 

 

I felt bad for Tommy. I used to get those phone calls from relatives telling me how I forgot about them and now that I am all successful I don't come home anymore. Bah. Tommy pushing back against his mother by eating a cheeseburger was hilarious.


Tommy is worried about Deliverance (Del), but they are both really funny together. I didn't guess Deliverance's secret, and I doubt readers coming into this cold will either. It really does come out of nowhere and you are going to love it. Deliverance is very much a kick ass female heroine in this one. I think many of the reasons it didn't bother me in this book was because everything is being played for laughs. I started to chuckle and outright laughed several times while reading this one. 


The writing was really good and I think that this may be the first and maybe last Koontz novel that featured a POC. I really wish that Koontz had followed up on this one, or even put out more lighter fare. This one is not bogged down by being overly descriptive and off the wall like later Koontz books. You are dealing with a horror book with fantasy elements in it and things tie together nicely. 

 

The ending was pretty brilliant and also funny as hell. I don't want to say too much cause just a little bit will spoil you. 


One of the main reasons why I didn't give this five stars, Tommy should have put two and two together a lot quicker to realize what was going on. Really again with the dog thing Koontz? 

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review 2018-07-19 16:09
This Book Was Endless
The Face: A Novel - Dean Koontz

This freaking book was over 600 pages! I don't even remember a lot of it since I started to skim. I have this in paperback and started to read it and started to skim in self defense. Not a lot of it makes any sense and then we get to what I think Koontz thinks is a killer ending and I maybe booed aloud for a full minute. 

 

"The Face" is about Channing Manheim who is known as "The Face." Manheim is a movie star with a lot of fans. His security chief, Ethan Truman, is an ex detective who is now hoping to hunt down who is after Manheim's 10 year old son Aelfric (otherwise known as Fric) (I misread that name as Eric like ten times when I first started this book) who is getting mysterious phone calls. 

 

I cannot with the bad guy in this one. Nothing he did made sense and I just didn't care. I swear that Koontz has some lackluster villains for most of his newest books. This guy is no It, Outsider, Randall Flag, Crimson King, etc. 

 

Ethan is not interesting enough to hold this book together. He has a sad story (like most of Koontz's heroes in his books, he is a widower) but I just didn't care. He is trying to figure out the clues that are left behind in 6 black boxes (nope, still serious) and you barely get any movement on things. Just a lot of overly descriptive things you will not care about that make you want to scream. 

 

We hear about Ethan's dead wife Hannah a lot and apparently she was perfect (as the dead wife's or alive heroines are in Koontz's books). She also weirdly started to remind me of Odd Thomas's girlfriend Stormy. Probably because there is an allusion to other things to come after death that sounds like her. 


The writing for this one was tough to shift through. Too many off the wall things happen in this one (i.e. a mob guy named Dunny with ties to Ethan dies and becomes a guardian angel....no I am not drunk that did happen). This book needed trimmed. The flow was awful too. I still say that Koontz cannot write a child to save his life. Fric was not great and I hated his name too (I already said that, but going to bring it up again.)

 

The ending was dancing towards absurdity. I guessed what was going on with Dunny and Typhon and I just rolled my eyes a thousand times. 

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review 2018-07-10 18:35
Just Skip This
One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz

This book is a freaking door stopper. I read this the first time on a very long flight and since my other books were packed in my luggage I plugged on through this. I think maybe I went hard shrug about it all and said well that's just three stars. Reading it now years later I have no idea how I muddled through this the first time. This book is peak sanctimony Koontz. There's a damn dog and then even more dogs. Koontz does that weird thing he did for a while where he had people with disabilities either physical or mental into super special people which felt wrong in a way. I don't know if you can call it pandering or what, it just felt off and not sincere. There are like four plots in this one (if you can call them that) and a question again about religion versus science, but with no real horror elements.

 

"One Door Away from Heaven" is about Michelina (Micky) Bellsong a woman with a mysterious past who does what she can to save a young girl she meets. Seriously though, why do most of Koontz's characters have a mysterious past? It takes a while to figure out what happened to Micky, but one can hazard a guess. There is not much there there with Micky. Sorry, not sorry. The other characters read as paper thin too. Micky meets a young girl named Leilani who tells her her life story and at least something comes across to Micky, that the young girl is going to be killed by her stepfather. Micky has a drinking problem, but is still beautiful (I think that is said repeatedly). When she realizes that Leilani is really in danger, she does what she can by following her to keep her safe.

 

Leilani is a 9 year old precocious child who talks like Einstein. She has a physical disability, but shines (according to another character). I can't even with that since it started to make me think of "The Shining" and Stephen King. I think I have said this before, Koontz cannot write children. He writes them as little Buddhas and it's old. I give King some grief when he writes something that is not 100 percent amazing (still feeling salty about 11/22/63) but the man can and always has been able to write kids.

 

We also have a PI named Noah who is out to help Micky with her tracking down Leilani.

 

There is a mysterious boy named Curtis who I hope you like reading him talking about a playful presence a lot. He sucks and I cannot with him. The reveal about Curtis wasn't much of a reveal since I was going for he is really an android for most of the book.

 

The bad guy seems like he should be going around screeching about cooties most of the time. Preston Maddoc is a scientist (EVIL) who is very popular in the scientific world pushing out his belief in bioethics. He believes in aliens (which don't even get me started) and that those who are not perfect should be murdered. Too bad he is Leilani's stepfather. I think Koontz could have gone at this more subtle. If Koontz wanted to have a real discussion about bioethics as it relates to the poor and people who are not white, have at it. But he turned this into all bioethics is evil/wrong.

 

There are other characters in this one that I cannot even get into right now. One was Micky's aunt Geneva that also made me roll my eyes. For most of the book everyone doesn't meet up and then Koontz throws them all together in a way that doesn't even make any sense.

 

The writing didn't work. I think because for some reason Koontz wrote some characters in past tense and others in present tense. It was hard work to even get through this because that drove me up the freaking wall. This one also reminded me a bit about "Intensity" which had another woman who put herself in harm's way to save a young girl.

 

The flow was awful and every time someone spoke it took like ten pages to make it end. Suffice it to say that the book is just about apparently people spreading the word and there are aliens. That's all I got.

 

And the book ends with people talking about a riddle and here is the answer which was too much even for me.

 

"If your heart is closed, then you will find behind that door nothing to light your way. But if your heart is open, you will find behind that door people who, like you, are searching, and you will find the right door together with them. None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another's salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light."

 

"For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those who dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those who would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy, and endless fear.

 

And here, in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence abiding in all things, Curtis is able to prove to Leilani what she has thus far only dared to hope is true: that although her mother never loved her, there is One who always has."

My eyes finally stopped rolling. That whole thing went on forever. I don't think that Koontz gets how preachy his books come across and how off-putting it is to read some of his works. I think this was Koontz's way of flipping off his critics cause he manages to tie dogs into being connected to God even more in this one that just made me shake my head.

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review 2018-07-10 17:55
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Strange Highways - Dean Koontz

I do re-read this one mostly in the month of October. Koontz really sings in this short story collection. Maybe he should think about publishing more short stories since even some of his shorts he has written lately have been better than the full length novels that have followed.

 

All in all the books showcase the good with Koontz. He can spin a sentence and also scare you at the same time. You get some religious musings here and there, but honestly everything in most of the stories works. I kept wishing after I first read this, that Koontz would think about spinning off some of the characters that we meet here. Too bad he never did.

 

"Strange Highways" (5 stars). The anchor of the collection this one was really good. We follow a man named Joey who is in essence a failure. He tried to be an author and is pretty much dead broke. He returns to his hometown in Pennsylvania to attend his father's funeral. His brother is successful and Joey doesn't know why, but he can't stand to be around him. When a second chance has Joey back in the past to fix a mistake that can lead him down a different path. This one had a lot going on with it, but it all works. Most time travel stories make me go hmmm, but Koontz plays with it in a good way and the reveal about what happened to Joey in the past and who was behind it was actually scary. I think Koontz also smartly incorporated the town. We find out this is a dying former mill town (there are lots in PA) and due to that many people had left it when he was a teen, when Joey goes back as an adult you feel like time stopped there. I loved this story from beginning to end.

 

"The Black Pumpkin" (4.5 stars). An almost perfect Halloween tale. A young boy named Tommy is in a terrible family. His mother and father are pretty awful and his brother is a potential serial killer. When Tommy and his brother get to pick out a pumpkin, his brother picks the black one that has Tommy scared to death. He can sense something evil about it. In the end though there is a definite surprise about the pumpkin. The ending was okay, but just didn't gel with the scares that came before it.

 

"Miss Attilla the Hun" (3 stars). Among my least favorite in this series. Probably because we get another uber perfect woman for Koontz to fawn over. Mrs. Laura Caswell is a teacher who one day realizes that something funky is going on at her school. A classic alien story which in the end didn't really work for me, probably because it didn't seem quite finished.

 

"Down in the Darkness" (3.5 stars). We follow a good man (Jess) who is excited about moving his family into their new home. When Jess finds a mysterious door that he doesn't recall being there during the house tour, he realizes that the door is hiding something potentially evil. When we (readers) find out what the door is for and how it comes into play with Jess's background as a former POW it was intriguing. In the end though I thought the ending (pun intended) wasn't that great. I think because it ends up leaving things a a moral question when we see what happens with Jess and the door and I don't think that Koontz needed it to be that deep.

 

"Ollie’s Hands" (4.5 stars). A sad story but very good. We find out about a man named Ollie and what his hands can do. I had nothing but pity for the character named Ollie when we come to the end of his story.

 

"Snatcher" (5 stars). This is really a fun and scary story. A man that is a purse snatcher and just all around terrible person has the tables turned on him.

 

"Trapped" (3 stars). I honestly feel like I read this story before somewhere. A woman and her son are on the run from some scary rats. Not a bad story, but like I said, I think that I read this or a similar idea of it somewhere before. Drove me up the wall because I can't figure out where.

 

"Bruno" (5 stars). I laughed and always laugh reading this one. No spoilers, I just think you will enjoy a story about a time traveling bear (seriously) and a private eye named Jake. Jake is asked to help Bruno out with catching a time traveling criminal (as one is these days apparently). this is one of the stories I wish we had seen a follow up about since it was so interesting.

 

"We three" (3.5 stars). Not bad, just fairly short. Murderous triplets maybe ushered in something that will be the end of them.

 

"Hardshell" (5 stars). So good. Another one I would have loved to see a spin off or larger novel about. We have a LAPD detective chasing a killer. We find out though that neither man are what they appear to be.

 

"Kittens" (5 stars). The main reason why I gave this one five stars is that for once Koontz didn't back away from a scary/terrible ending. Reminded me a bit of King with the ending and what we realize must have happened as readers. Shudder.

 

"The Night of the Storm" (3 stars). My second least favorite story in this collection. I can't even go into how boring I found this, but it was boring.

 

"Twilight of the Dawn" (3 stars). A very preachy Koontz book that also had no horror elements in it so it doesn't really fit with the rest of the book. That said, it works because Koontz manages to draw you in with his writing. The story is about an atheist who ends up being pretty much an asshole to his young son and his own wife when the question of religion comes up. We know why he is that way (he had very religious parents) and doesn't want his son growing up thinking there is a God. When he loses his wife though his son starts to question his father's lack of faith and grows even stronger in his belief of a God. When his son eventually gets diagnosed with a fatal cancer, the question of faith becomes even more of divide between them. I went back and forth on this rating a lot. I eventually ended up with a three since I thought the father character was an ass.

 

"Chase" (5 stars). This and "Strange Highways" were the longest stories in the collection and this one really packs a punch. It's a good way to end the collection. Benjamin Chase has a complicated history. Returned from Vietnam and having to drink to forget his memories he is welcomed at a dinner for a Guest of Hero thing. I was a bit nonplussed at first since I thought most of the US was terrible to returning vets. Chase is given a new car and while driving ends up saving a young girl who was about to be raped and murdered. This puts Chase neck in neck with a killer who is determined to end Chase.

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review 2018-07-10 17:15
Deus Ex BS
Relentless - Dean Koontz

I am still shocked Koontz wrote this terrible book where he takes potshots at his literary critics in book form. And we get a special dog, kid, and a super wife. I feel like there should be a Koontz bingo card and you can start marking off all of the things that he always does in his books and at the end you get a beer. Or maybe three beers.

 

"Relentless" was one of the worst Koontz books I have ever read. I hoped my re-read would have some saving grace to it, but nope. Still among the worst. I didn't care at all about the characters, but the whole thing with the mysterious and evil critic (whose name was Shearman Waxx) made zero sense and had me ready to fight. The plot made no sense and then we go sliding into a whatever the hell that was ending.

 

"Relentess" is about successful author Cubby Greenwich. Cubby apparently writes books that can stop wars and shit like that. Oh wait, that was the plot to "Lady in the Water". Either way, Cubby's book has attracted the attention of a critic that everyone fears named Shearman Waxx. Well Waxx ends up uttering a word and then Cubby and his whole damn family is on the run. Maybe I could have made allowances for this stupid book if the rest of the characters had been fleshed out, but nothing doing. Besides Cubby, we have Cubby's wife Penny who is also a successful children's author. And they have a precocious son named Milo who would make Einstein apparently look stupid. It was just too much in this book to even deal with at once.

 

Koontz does that thing where the main characters past is hidden from readers for reasons until revealed. We have Penny being a super woman with a family with a damn stronghold and of course her ability to shoot any type of freaking weapon. Milo and his dog...I can't even right now. Koontz pulls a deus ex machina out of his ass in this one with the kid and the dog and I freaking booed after having more wine and trying not to scream about still having no kitchen or basement.

 

Waxx is hilariously terrible as a character. I cannot even get into the why behind this character and why he is after Cubby.

 

The dialogue is typical new Koontz a la no one speaks like actual human beings but fortune cookies that are somehow sentient.

 

The flow was awful and as other reviewers have noted there are some Easter eggs in this one if you have read Koontz's backlist before. The story that Cubby writes that angers Waxx so much is an alternate title to a prior Koontz book. He (Cubby) talks shit about critics and I think that was much of Koontz shouting down his critics to his newest works.

 

The ending when it comes will not be a relief. It was just terrible and beyond stupid. I am still mad about it.

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