10 words or less : Great start, poor ending. Had potential to be really great.
Long version : “The Taking” was my first book by Dean Koontz. Like most of the books I buy, it was in the bargain bin at a local book store, so I grabbed it for a quick weekend read.
Before I go on with the review, I have to say that horror movies and horror books seldom work on me. The solution to 85% of horror movies? Shotgun. Jason Voorhees? Shotgun. Michael Myers? Shotgun. Blair Witch? Shotgun. I know what you did last blah blah blah? Shotgun. Just shoot the friggin’ bad guy and be done with it.
As for the paranormal kind of horror, most of the time I think those kind of things are just really funny. If I ever run across a ghost, I’ll probably pull a Ray Stantz on them… take some technical readings, and then make fun of them.
Movies that worked for me? Aliens. The Thing. The Shining. Session 9. The Silence of the Lambs. Movies with intelligent people who were in situations appropriate for their characters, who were also properly equipped for their environment, and who were still having really bad things happen to them.
Now, having said all that, I think “The Taking” was almost great. Almost. And that’s what’s really frustrating about it.
The book starts off with a rush. Bad things start to happen immediately and you get to know the characters as the book unfolds and as things happen to them. It reminded me a little of the very first episode of LOST.
The story and characters are well written, and they react like people with decent intelligence and some self-defense capabilities would in their given situation. And they had a shotgun! Bonus! I was really getting into this book.
But a little more than midway in, the terror part of the book runs out of gas. Things push way too far into the unbelievable, and the bad guys’ motivations and abilities become far too excessive. I was wondering if this story was heading for a sequel when a textbook “deus ex machina” tied up the ending. And not to ruin the book, but if that was who the bad guys were, then what exactly were the good guys? That’s a far more disturbing thought for me.
Amazon reviewers say not to judge this book as one of Koontz’s better ones. So having seen those comments, and being very impressed with the first part of the book, I will try one of his earlier books for next time. Because if Koontz can write a whole book like the first few chapters of “The Taking”, I’ll be really impressed.
Checking in at around 450 pages, “The Taking” was a decent summer / weekend read.
Three and 3/8 out of five stars.