Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Taking by Dean Koontz

If I had to choose the worst book we've ever read for our sci-fi/fantasy book club, that book would have to be The Taking.

I hadn't read any Dean Koontz since high school, when I read a few of his thrillers -- I thought I remembered enjoying them, but hey, I was 14 -- cut me some slack!  I'm all grown up now, though, and I was properly disgusted by this book when we read it a few months back.

So was everyone else in the book club, incidentally, so it wasn't just me.  In fact, not a single one of us truly enjoyed the book, and although we later tried to remember how it ended up on our reading list, we couldn't be sure.  We think it was suggested by a member who stopped coming after we made the list for 2012.  Figures, huh?

There were lots of complaints about this book.  My biggest complaint was the choppy writing style -- I could have dealt with the rather formula story if it weren't for that.  Every paragraph is one or two sentences long, yet he manages to go on for pages trying to describe the same thing.  The overuse of fluffy adjectives would have appalled many of my writing teachers in school.

The story is terrible too, unfortunately, though like I said I could have enjoyed it more if the writing hadn't been so difficult to follow.  It starts out pretty strong -- the mystery and suspense of what is going on, and of the isolation, is a great way to begin a story.  But then it devolves into a formulaic series of all the overused scary events in substandard horror movies: a dead body that gets up, a doll that moves and talks, and so on.  It was like he said, "How to scare my readers next?  Ooh, I know!  I'll make the doll talk!"

From there, I lost interest entirely when the main character realized her "purpose" was to save the children in the town, and the religious twist Koontz managed to slip in at the end was pretty lame.  I felt while reading the book that he started the story intending to take it in one direction, and decided halfway through to do something completely different, since there were loose ends that were never explained and didn't seem to serve a purpose.

There was one good thing about it, though: Book club has never spent so much time talking about a book as we did talking about this one!  Perhaps we should read terrible books more often so that we can spend our time griping -- it's so much fun!

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