Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Book Review!

These things seem to be taking me a long time ... I mean - I think I will have a few days of solitude and then something else comes up. I have to get on this more.

Anyways, I need to decide which book to review first, don't I? I think I will get onto this bandwagon by reveiwing "Breathless" by Dean Koontz.

I listened to the unabridged audio for this one - and my first note is that, knowing Koontz's work as I do, this was much too short. I looked up a few reviews after I finished reading it to see if I was not the only one, and apparently the general sentiment is that Koontz started out promising and strong, but then rushed the ending. And more importantly - left those frayed endings that drive me insane since I have to fill in blanks - I just do. So I have already constructed an elaborate background to this book in my own head that includes secret deals with the Russians, miscommunications and, just because I am a sucker for the Koontz universe, a cameo appearance by favourite character, Christopher Snow.

(Seriously - awesome trilogy ... of two books. The third is supposed to come out ... eventually? I started with the second, I would recommend reading them chronological - they are enjoyable either way, though. Also - on the same vein - I love Latin when it's all about ludicrous sayings!)

Anyways, here is the synopsis from the back cover:

Grady Adams lives a simple, solitary life deep in the Colorado mountains. Here the thirty-five-year-old carpenter works out of a converted barn, crafting exquisite one-of-a-kind furniture. There's little about this strong yet gentle man to suggest the experiences that have alienated him from the contemporary world. But that is about to change.

One day, while hiking, Grady spots a pair of stunningly beautiful furred animals unlike anything he's ever seen. They flee the instant they detect his presence, but the mystery of that brief encounter remains. In the days ahead, Grady will approach the creatures again, gaining their trust but coming no closer to solving their mystery. For this he enlists the help of an old friend, veterinarian Camellia 'Cammy' Rivers, who, in turn, is stunned - and enchanted - by Grady's new 'pets.' But while Grady and Cammy carefully observe these enigmatic animals for clues to their origin, they, too, are being watched.

Soon Grady's home and hundreds of square miles of surrounding wilderness will be placed under quarantine by Homeland Security. And Grady, Cammy, and the two creatures they've come to feel they must protect at all costs find themselves virtual prisoners - and the unwilling focus of an army of biologists, naturalists, and research scientists. But it's a stunning event no one could have foreseen that convinces Grady and Cammy to do the unthinkable: to escape with the two creatures on a riveting race for freedom.

And here are a couple of reviews that shared my general sentiments, or were just good to read after the fact. Again, I require closure.


And now onto my own thoughts of this book.

Now, I will preface this with the fact that I am an avid Dean Koontz reader and have adored him since I stole my Mom's copy of "Phantoms" back in the sixth grade, and read it all in a one night sleepover with my friend M. He has a knack for dialogue in my opinion. And quite a knack it is. He can deliver the best one liners I have ever had the pleasure of reading - which already endears him to my heart. Added to that, he generally ends with a feel good moment.

This book is not really like that ... well ... not really.

See, the one liners are suspisciously muted in this book. I can recall only a handful of them - but that may be because there are several subplots that are never actually really tied together. See, usually there are a few main characters and their interactions create an atmosphere ripe with one liners which makes me happy. This time, the main characters are arguably, Cammy and Grady. But their interactions are rushed, almost as an afterthought and the main idea - that evolution is not rock solid - is what replaces it.

I am into the theoretical part of this book - I like the different and unique viewpoint that Koontz attempts to project - I just think it misses its mark by about 100 pages or so. If it had been given more page space to develop, I think the idea behind the book would have been more evident and it wouldn't have frustrated me quite so much. As it was, the idea was barely forming when we were already the end. That is not cool, Dean, not cool.

Shorter books seem to be the Koontz trend these days - I just finished "Odd Thomas", too - a shorter book then I am used to in the Koontz universe and one I also had the feeling of being rushed. However, in Thomas' case, it didn't hurt my overall impression of the book - I thought the pace and length worked for the material (even if, and yes I will admit it, I cried a bit at the end ... in the middle of the gym, in front of people).

Obviously, this is not the case for Breathless. Which is too bad - I really liked the idea.

One of my huge problems with it was the storylines and how they never managed to really amount to anything. Questions I have include:
(1) What plot of mass destruction were the Washington senators planning - or was that all in Henry's head?
(2) Was the fact that he went to Harvard/Oxford all in his head, too?
(3) Where the hell did he get grenades?
(4) Why did he let Cammy go?
(5) How does he tie into the Creatures?
(6) What happened the other creatures (MI, Rome)
(7) What does Homeland Security have to do with it?
(8) What explains Lamar's winning streak?
(9) What happened to Homeland Security?
(10) What happened with Cammy and Grady and Merlin and Puzzle and Riddle?
(11) How did they manage to get to a bar?

etc. etc. etc.

Too many for me to reconcile with.

All in all, I can't say I hated it. It was intriguing and I liked the idea and the characters - however, everything remained a little one dimensional for me - And that kind of sucked.

Anyways, next up - Cover Matters probably, but maybe another book review first! :)


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