By Dean Koontz
Published July 2022
I almost hate to review a Dean Koontz book – he’s one of those authors that if I met him at an event, I’d probably turn into a gushing, incoherent fan girl. It’s difficult to review an idol. That said, I do like some of his books better than others. My decision usually has to do with the freshness of the plot. I suppose after an author has written something like 100+ books, some of the plots get recycled. This one felt a bit like a retread.
Here’s the blurb: Joanna Chase grew up on a ranch in Montana, but left after the death of her parents when she was nine. She lives a normal, if isolated, life for decades until she begins to get eerie phone calls begging for her help and her cars start on their own, with the GPS set for her home at Rustling Willows Ranch.
Something strange is afoot in Montana. The new owner fled after only a few days on the ranch and hired a private investigator to check things out. He can’t explain what’s happening either. Something lurks in the lake and when Joanna arrives, she’s greeted by a herd of elk who escort her to the door. As a force only known as The Other wreaks havoc at the ranch, a disparate group of people also make their way there, running from this unknown entity. An entity who has joined forces with a psychopath who believes the only cure for humanity’s sins is the total extermination of the human race.
AI, aliens, mind control, and a conveniently placed psychopath trying to wipe out every living thing on earth. Honestly, it’s pretty similar to a lot of previous Koontz plots. That said, I always enjoy Koontz’s writing and this novel was no exception. He played fast and loose with the points of view, often pulling in a character for only one chapter to advance the story. I saw some reviews that didn’t care for this; personally, I loved it. It did have the drawback of never really connecting to any one character, though. Except for Jimmy. I got drawn into Jimmy and found myself flipping pages to see if he made it from his house to the ranch in one piece.
I have a few things to say about the pacing. About 80% of the book was buildup. And that was amazing. The tension grew steadily through a myriad of ways – the weather, danger, cars careening to the ranch, the madman waiting in the dark…you name it, the plot device was used. And just when I figured something HAD to happen soon, because the book was almost finished, the story climaxed in approximately two pages with a quickie mop up where most people paired off romantically. I wanted more.
One reason I love Dean Koontz’s books is the dialogue. There’s usually at least one conversation that just riffs like a steamy jazz guitar. It’s so good, I have to go back and read it again. Sadly, I didn’t find that in this book.
It did end on a pleasantly creepy note. Will we see a spin-off with Artemis in the future?
If you’re a Dean Koontz fan, check it out. Nothing really new here, but still a good read.
3.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
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