6.25.2012

Reading: Dean Koontz

I just finished reading Dean Koontz's Whispers. It had an overly convoluted story line replete with first person narration instead of showing the reader the story. These factors made me incredibly annoyed. The characters were superficial. I realize it was based in LA, but really.

I realize this book was written in the author's early career, and in the early 1980s sexism was rampant. Stereotypes and cliches were rampant in this book. There were unnecessarily detailed love scenes that remind me of romance novel dribble--something I avoid like the plague after my experiences with Ann Rice in the 1990s. His tight lean body? Gag me.

I can't help but compare style to Stephen King. I guess because Dean Koontz is considered a bit of a thriller/horror writer in away. But the horror is Koontz's writing style--yes I'm being mean, but I can't help it. I'm bitter.

Stephen King's early works had the taste of the era they were written in, but they're never insulting to the reader's intelligence. King's stories elbow out some room for the reader to join the action. It's not a series of characters giving you sermons about what happened ages ago which has a major impact on today's story.

A good book starts with the horrors of the past and moves into the present. When you finish reading the book, the twists and turns reveal the story arc and you enjoy having spent your valuable time reading. I never come away from Koontz's books feeling elated, I feel fatigued and irritated.

I hate it when descriptions are either too detailed (Ann Rice) or so little detailed that you're left trying to force your imagination to fill in the holes. When you can't imagine what's so valuable about indescript pieces of art or furniture styles you've never heard about, it almost makes you feel like you should have wikipedia open nearby to double-check things.

Another thing that irritates me about Koontz is that information like ages of characters or other such details don't seem to match when they're being referred to later in the book. This is especially the case with his book Dragon Tears. I want to go back with a calculator and try to figure out exactly how old the two cops are! She's only six years younger than me, he was so much old five years ago. I mean really. Is this an arithmetic problem or character development? Give us the facts and keep the formulas on your writer's idea board.

I decided I'm mentally labeling Koontz's books young, young adult books, because they're moderately entertaining, but have too many holes and cliches to be considered "the real thing." This is what I also consider the Twilight series to be.

Coincidentally, yesterday at Barnes and Noble, I saw this sign, and it made me gag and shiver at the same time.

I almost feel like I shouldn't give up on Koontz, that I'm being harsh. After all, he's been on best seller lists, his name is known, and he has a ton of books out. But having read three books may have sated my need to read his work for a while. Maybe next time I'll do my due diligence and find highest-ranked/rated/reviewed pieces of his before I start to attack...er...read them.

For now, I'm going to dive into Stephen King's monster of a novel, Under the Dome. The paperback was so thick I gave up purchasing it instead opting for the Kindle version. It's over 1,000 pages long. Here's crossing my fingers.

Side note: I bought Whispers at the Goodwill store, so .98¢ is hardly a problem for a book I didn't really enjoy. Alas, the troubling thing is that the person who owned the book previously highlighted some strange sections of the book. The book looked mostly unread, except for two to three pages at odd places within, which featured black pen marks on the margins noting sections discussing physiological reactions of people at times after a major earthquake or other major natural event. Another paragraph with notations discussed sink holes developing under buildings after major earthquakes and no real corrective action being taken to close these up. Kind of scary.