Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: The City by Dean Koontz

As I read this novel I kept wondering to myself what happened to the Dean Koontz I loved so many years ago. I was so excited to start The City and was even temporarily blinded by Koontz prose and wordplay that I almost forgot that I was bored out of my mind... almost.

The City is the story of Jonah Kirk as he recalls the days of his youth. Born to a beautiful songstress and a disappearing father, Jonah finds solace in his incredible ability to play the piano, note for note, after hearing the tune only once. Jonah is narrating this story at the request of his best friend Malcolm Pomerantz (who's a little on the OCD side) recounting the days of his youth that transforms him into a whole man. Not a half man like his father.

As The City progresses, we are introduced to the many people in Jonah's life that have helped shape him. There's the woman who's the city, Miss Pearl, Mr. Yoshioka, and Amalia Pomerantz, Malcolm's older sister. Each of these characters bring the story to life, with their keen sense of clairvoyance, wisdom, or just plain beauty, inside and out. When Koontz let them star on the pages, the novel didn't seem so...mundane.

As a way to maintain his position on the horror shelf, Koontz provides characters who seem to only exist for the sake of thrills and bloodshed. Fiona, Drackman, and his father help move the story forward but are never really interesting enough to bring on the razzle dazzle of the more evil characters I've come to expect from Koontz. I'm sorry but I had high standards from Koontz. I was a teen who once spent all her allowance just to get my hands on one of his many books.

The one other gripe I have with this novel is that it didn't seem to move forward for at least a while. There were so many references to musicians, poems, art, or architecture and all things creative that the point of them being mentioned was soon forgotten. It's like we were given Koontz iTunes playlist on shuffle. 

It's not all bad. Believe me. The writing is top notch. I have so many quotes I highlighted from this read that will resonate for a long time in my life. Of course, Koontz' classic good vs. evil theme isn't lost on me, but I also thought The City is a great coming of age story. Jonah faces challenges with courage that many adults will never obtain. He takes the good with the bad, and is positive that no matter how bad things get, they will get better. Jonah is the type of person I aspire to be someday.

Overall, The City is an enjoyable enough read for philosophical purposes but if you're like me, expecting the Koontz of yester-year than this may not be the place for you. Wonderfully written paragraphs are drowned by the constant name-dropping of musical acts. I recommend this novel to die-hard fans who are entranced with any and every work by Koontz. I just urge Dean Koontz to take his own advice and realize his talent for writing is a gift he hasn't earned so he should use it wisely on the next novel.  **

Copy provided by Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley

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