The Taking

By Dean Koontz
ISBN-13 978-0553593501

Publication Year: 2004

Tags: Horror, Suspense

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

From the book cover: On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong. As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency.

This book is difficult to discuss openly without giving away everything. I could, in fact, sum it up in six words, but they would comprise the great spoiler of all. So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll type those six words between a couple of black bars and turn the letters white. If you want to read them, click and hold your mouse button and “swipe” over them to highlight them; if not, continue on without spoilers. Here you go: // The Rapture, disguised as alien invasion. \\

There is a type of book where the journey is, in many ways, far better than arriving at the end. In its favor, it does actually have an ending, unlike for instance Stephen King’s travesty Cell. Upon arriving at the ending, various aspects of this book will seem as if they should have been very obvious clues to what’s going on. However, as we’re aware with Koontz, he works hard at making his narrative as untrustworthy as possible in order to vex and tease his readers. This needn’t be a fault, but it does make it difficult to swallow the ending, at least in this case.

As mentioned, it’s difficult to discuss the book without either providing unintentional spoilers or causing confusion by referring to matters obscurely, hoping to avoid said spoilers. I think I can safely say that nothing in the book is quite what it seems, that even the apparent genre of the book isn’t what it seems, and that Virgil is a very noble name for a dog, especially to those who have the slightest literary education. That’s as much clue as I can provide.

I would note that Koontz is apparently very proud of his new thesaurus in this novel. It’s always interesting to read a paragraph consisting of 75% nickel words, 15% dime words, 10% quarter words, and a hundred-dollar word thrown in for no particular reason. Again, this needn’t be a fault, but it certainly provides a hugely distracting speed-bump in the smooth flow of reading. Koontz’ writing is lurid enough without throwing out “amythestine” and “trammeled” with little necessary effect. Now look, I’m an author myself, with a over 40 years of published work behind me. I’ll use “milleu” or “quotidian” once in a while, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty. Hey, I’ve even used “quixotic” and “schadenfreude” from time to time, and I’ll even make use of abandoned words like “wittol” (you can look it up). Seriously, though… “the trammeled sun” in the midst of a horror thriller is like throwing Beluga caviar on Taco Bell — not only is the flavor and texture wrong, it’s a big waste on most readers of this genre.

Overall, not a bad diversion, something to keep in the john to read after those visits to Taco Bell. The effect, however, is like being painstakingly hyped for a gigantic revel (no, not “reveal”, which is not a noun; I mean “revel” as in “huge party”) only to have it deteriorate into something wholly pedestrian… or perhaps I should simply use “ordinary,” rather than spend two bits on the better word.

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