Dean Koontz: A Personal Review
I am a voracious reader and have been so all my life. In the past 30-plus years since I first discovered the joy of reading, I've read a variety of books on many topics, mostly fiction. One of the first books I remember reading was about a horse named Shaitan, and the librarian at my elementary school gave the book to me as a reward for a reading contest. My mother used to hold me on her lap when I was a baby, and my view was not of my mom's face but of the cover of whatever book she happened to be reading at the time. Perhaps I got that trait from her, because she's always been a reader (though mostly of historical non-fiction for the past decade or so).
I've read books ranging from Green Eggs and Ham to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and I started my late-teen years reading romance novels. This progressed into a Stephen King and Dean Koontz addiction, and has since branched out to include science fiction and fantasy, crime and drama, medical thriller and political capers. I have several "favorite" books and a smaller number of "favorite" authors. My favorite series of books is The Sword of Truth saga (ten books) written by Terry Goodkind. The Shannara series by Terry Brooks is a close second. My favorite single book is Imajica by Clive Barker. While some authors write one or maybe two books that are truly enjoyable and are worth a second (or third) read, most are "one hit wonders" that are good while you read them but then quickly disappear from your mind. The authors whose books are generally all worth reading, in my opinion, include such writers as Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Crichton, James Patterson, Robin Cook, Iris Johansen, Stephen King (before Gerald's Game), and a few others.
The one writer whose books, in their entirety, have never been a disappointment to me is Dean Koontz. I have read every book he's written with only a couple exceptions (these being new ones that are only available in hardback: I'm rough on a book so I prefer paperback editions), and his books are always ones that I cannot put down until I'm done with them. The fact that I can read a regular length feature novel in about four hours helps a bit, too. :)
Koontz writes in a way that makes it easy to visualize the landscape his characters encounter, and even the most peripheral of characters has a personality you can either like or dislike upon encountering them. He also uses animals (almost exclusively dogs) in his novels in a way that gives you the ability to "know" them as you would a main human character. Over the years that he has been publishing novels, I think his mastery of the craft has only gotten better and better, on a grand scale. I consider myself rather savvy with the English language and use of the written word, but he manipulates it in such a way that I feel like a rank amateur when attempting to pen a few paragraphs of fiction myself.
Koontz's earlier works, like Icebound and Ticktock, are still excellent reads and I've re-read them countless times, but his newer novels, like The Darkest Evening of the Year and Breathless, are practically magnetic in their ability to draw a reader into the novel's world and keep you there until the last page has been turned. I enjoy Koontz' novels so much that I have quite a few in hardbound edition simply because I didn't want to wait until the paperback version was released.
My personal collection of books easily takes up a dozen bookcases, and if I were to put them all in storage I'd need a 10 x 10 building, at a minimum (and this would be wall to wall, floor to ceiling, front to back). I love books, and this is an understatement if there ever was one. But the most treasured book in my collection is a hardbound copy of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. The reason this book has a place of importance in my collection is because it was personalized and signed by Mr. Koontz himself. At the time I received it, it was the only book he'd written that I hadn't read (which is why it was given to me).
I love to write and would love to write a novel, but when I read through the works that others have published, I know my skills are akin to that of a two-year old attempting to paint a replica of the Mona Lisa. More than I love to write, however, I love to read...and since I don't have the ability to put words to paper in the same captivating and eloquent way that others can, I'm content to read the fruits of their labors.
If you've never read any of Dean Koontz' work, I recommend it whether your tastes are for the macabre and dramatic and suspenseful or not. If you are a true reader, you'll enjoy his books and you'll come back for more.
P.S. I'm sorry to "bash" on Stephen King because he's been one of my favorite authors since I was a teenager. But it seems that his writing has just become rather lackluster since he published Gerald's Game (wasn't that around the time that he got hit by the van?). His novels used to keep me up at night...not only because I couldn't put them down but also because they literally scared the crap out of me. THAT quality is lacking in his work now, and in some of them, even the "can't put it down" aspect is absent. For example, one of his newer books, The Dome, was something like a million pages long...and after reading it, which got tedious after awhile, it seemed that at least HALF the book could've been edited out and it would've achieved the same end result. The only "million page long" book of King's that was really good from start to finish, in my opinion, was The Stand.