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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I've Been Koontz'd

I joined the Dean Koontz Group at Shelfari. Shortly after that I began reading two Koontz books: Odd Thomas and From The Corner Of His Eye. The group collectively is reading Odd Thomas. Right before that title was chosen, I began reading From The Corner Of His Eye on my own.

I have several Koontz books because my older daughter, who swears to anyone who will listen to her that everything Koontz has ever written is wonderful, and who, if this were even remotely possible, would buy and read Koontz's telephone message doodles were someone to publish them. And considering that his publisher did release some of his earliest works years after they were written and only because Koontz became so popular, I'm surprised the phone doodles didn't make it to mass market paperback anyway.

One of the comments I've noticed that comes up about Koontz with some regularity is that as he gets older, he gets better. I don't know if I wholeheartedly agree with that, but I will admit that his later novels seemed much better written than his earliest books. However, that doesn't mean I'd go so far as to say that what he writes is "good".

I'm roughly 80 pages into Odd Thomas. To say that Thomas is Odd is like commenting that Rosie O'Donnell says incredibly stupid things. It takes a really firm grasp of the obvious to notice something that does everything but get right up in your face and scream at you. But then we're told that "Odd" is the real name of Mr Thomas. Puhleeeeeze. Okay, so there was a snafu with the birth certificate... what parent does not straighten out something like that instead of saddling a child with a first name like "Odd" for his entire life?

That's just one of the problems I have with Koontz. So much of what I've read of his work seems contrived to me. It's almost as though I can see the outline of the novel resting beside the book I'm reading, and after we covered what was listed under
I. Introduction,
we now move on to
II. Other characters.
I will finish reading Odd Thomas because of the group commitment, but also because I do have some curiosity about where Koontz is taking this character. But I'm not expecting great things.

And that would be because I finished From The Corner Of His Eye. What a mess that book was!

I understood that the theme of FTCOHE was that we're all in this world together and have the ability to affect each other in good ways and bad ways without even being aware that other individual people within our sphere of influence exist. It seems to me the message was also that we have little or no control over what we do or what we become from the time we're born until the time we die. Interesting premise, and it could have made for a very good story even though I'm not all that into Quantum Physics, which apparently is where Koontz derived the information he used as background for this book.

But instead of choosing a story line and following it through to its logical end, Koontz decided to arrange an anticlimactic scene for one of his main characters so he could abandon that storyline and go off in pursuit of something completely different. I was expecting this novel to be of the horror genre. Instead it was more like a novel that wanted to be suspenseful sometimes and then came up with an ending more worthy of a romance novel.

When it came, the final ending of this book suggested a sequel, but to my knowledge Koontz has not written one for the people who populate From The Corner Of His Eye. Which doesn't mean that he won't write one. I just don't know that I'd care enough to read it. I was disgusted by the shoddy way in which Koontz disposed of the one full-fledged, really, really bad character in this book, and the final scene around the dinner table with the remaining members of the "family" created by the book's series of events, made me want to gag.

I guess this means I'm not a Koontz fan. But I'll keep trying if only because I've got a stash of his books my daughter gave me. I did like Mr Murder. That's a start.


Pamela Milkweed said...

Manky, my advice is to read some of Koontz's earlier books, like WATCHERS and LIGHTNING. Those are considered his best, and will make you into a fan. MR. MURDER is just fair.

CORNER FROM HIS EYE was pretty bad, but I liked Odd Thomas a lot. has a cool discussion board for new fans.

Manky said...

I appreciate the advice. But what happens after I read the few earlier books that were better only to find that there's nothing very good to follow? I think it's just me. I don't think Koontz is all that great a writer.

Anonymous said...

Well, I feel bad because I am the one who opened the! But I do understand your feeling. I feel the same about S. King. Some books are great, while others have me screaming "What were you thinking?"

You might like The Good Guy better. I loved it up until the President thing. Even with that flaw, it was a great book.