Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Serial Killers' Featured Review: The Dead Town by Dean Koontz

Want to know more about the idea behind Serial Killers? This post is the place to start.

This month's book is The Dead Town the 5th book in the Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz. Odd's the established reader and I'm new(-ish) to the series...

Synopsis (Goodreads)
The war against humanity is raging. As the small town of Rainbow Falls, Montana, comes under siege, scattered survivors come together to weather the onslaught of the creatures set loose upon the world. As they ready for battle against overwhelming odds, they will learn the full scope of Victor Frankenstein’s nihilistic plan to remake the future—and the terrifying reach of his shadowy, powerful supporters.

Now the good will make their last, best stand. In a climax that will shatter every expectation, their destinies and the fate of humanity hang in the balance.
My Thoughts: I'm rather torn on this book. I liked the idea behind it so so so much but I had a tough time with the MASSIVE cast of characters that began unraveling the diabolical plot to destroy humanity and the world. There were a freaking lot of different plot threads going on here. A freaking lot.

If I look past all the secondary characters and focus on the Deucalion side of the story... OMG! LOVE! I really do adore the guy. He's big and scary looking, yet he's a good guy at the core. He *delights* in the wonders of the world around him. He's brilliant and ruthless when he needs to be. I think this is a sign that I should backtrack and read the first books in the series.

The downside of picking up the last book in a series is that I really have NO idea if the climactic end battle lives up to what came before. For all I know, the previous books make this one look like a dying fish flopping around on the banks of a river. Or, possibly, this one blew all the others out of the water. *I* was pleased with it and there was enough going on here to make me intensely curious to know the entire story. I'm usually okay with stepping into a series midstream but this is one that I really wouldn't have minded experiencing in all its glory.

Odd's Thoughts: Eh. Climactic end battle, shlimactic end battle. I really haven't been excited about this series since book 3, so it was hard to get through. The big cast of characters, I agree, was hella out of control and while I don't share your adoration for Deucalion, he's at least an interesting update to the Frankenstein's monster myth.

Books 4 and 5 have just felt like Koontz is going balls-out on the scary monster territory (not that books 1, 2 and 3 he was slacking on it) and more power to him, but a lot of the characters we got to know in the earlier books really got lost in the shuffle of MOAR PLOT...and set it on fire!!!

There's also the whole Frankenstein's New Reich problem (which I get into more below) and how it's a difficult subject to tackle without turning your reader off entirely. There really is such a thing as too much just being excess. I won't be going on with the series (if the series itself goes on).

Kelly: Whew! I did it. I finished the book. I had a tough time getting into it until about the 150 page mark so I'm pleased with myself.

Odd: Well done! It's a tough series overall, I think. What was it about p150 that suddenly worked for you?

Kelly: I think it was the HUGE cast of characters. I had a tough time keeping them straight at first. The way the action switches to a new set of characters/events pretty much every chapter kept me from really getting to *know* the characters. Once I had picked up the ebb and flow of Koontz's writing style, though, it was easier.

Odd: Had you read much Koontz before this?

Kelly: A few books. More than five, less than a dozen, I'd say. That said, it's been a while.

Odd: Do you think you'd read the rest of this series?

Kelly: I'm undecided. I've actually downgraded the original rating I gave this book on Goodreads because of the confusion caused by the huge cast of characters.  I did like Deucalion though, but knowing how things end... well, it kinda takes some of the shine off of that penny.

Odd: So, Deucalion's never resonated with me. I understand that he's supposed to be this moral Frankenstein's monster update, but for some reason I just am not thrilled. Now, I used to really enjoy Carson's character, but at the end of Book 2 (spoilerpants is easing down that zipper, baby, get ready for spoilers) Koontz marries her off to her partner, at which point she becomes someone else entirely. NOT THRILLED.

Between that and my feeling that Koontz isn't so much examining or undermining Nazi ideology as much as he is just appropriating it, I was outie-manoutie on these books.

Kelly: Ahhh. Since I skipped all the middle books (I'm using my working knowledge of books 1 and 5, here), I didn't really get to know Carson. In fact, I really do think that was the biggest downfall of this book. Characters came and went so quickly that just as you were getting a handle on them, they were dead or worse.

Odd: I actually didn't make it all the way through this book or the one before it. I'd noticed the ramping up of the use of "New Order" imagery in book 3, then in book 4 there's a whole bunch of "slaughter them like animals" and "shove them in trucks/trains/boxcars" language and imagery that was uncomfortable for me. I stuck with it in the hopes that Koontz would use those references to find something useful to say, something to add to a discussion along those lines -- basically something to justify the use of Nazi imagery and language. But it remained unexamined and just kind of...casual. Book 5, I only got about twenty pages in and just wasn't seeing change.

I am not here for that. We're not, as a society, at a place where imagery and references like that can stand unchallenged. I don't read fiction with Nazis as villains because I'm don't feel that we've really dealt with the non-fiction existence and power and impact of them, so to move the Nazi figure into fiction is disrespectful, as if making the facts of the Holocaust something to tell ghost stories about rather than a very real evil.

Which is basically my review. Book 1 was clever, in the introduction and reworking of the Frankenstein myth. Book 2 was gory but still clever. Book 3 was...kind of, where are we going with this? At which point I was only reading for the Jocko subplot and getting a very bad feeling about the New Order imagery.

Book 4 and 5? Naw. Nuh uh.

I'm open to hearing about a dissenting viewpoint. I'm cheerfully wrong on a consistent basis, and I think there's a path to rational examination of the type of ideology that allows this viewpoint to continue to flourish in the real world.

BUT, I'll need help getting to where I can understand how to productively use that imagery in entertainment and social commentary.

Kelly: Dude. Your mind scares me. I was all "MONSTERS! SCARY!" I think I missed a lot of nuances of what Koontz was doing here because I was so focused on trying to keep all the characters straight. Now I feel kinda douche-y for not seeing all that. THANKS A LOT, ODD!

(Please note: No friendships were harmed in the writing of this review. I promise!)

Split Decision

Books in this series
1. Prodigal Son
2. City of Night
3. Dead and Alive
4. Lost Souls
5. The Dead Town - Paperback | Kindle

Author Links
| Website | Facebook | Amazon |


  1. I hate it when there are too many characters in a book -- my poor brain!

    I've heard mixed things about Dean Koontz, but maybe I'll check out something ELSE of his first ...

    1. Maybe it would have been different if I had read the entire series. I don't know. There was just SO MUCH going on that I had a hard time keeping up.

  2. D.K.---he is an author I want to love, I really do but I have never made it through one of his stories. I won one while I was at Boucher Con last week (don't ask which one) so maybe I will give that a whirl. It does seem like I should like him, it really does.

    1. I know someone who is IN LOVE with his books and kept telling me how creepy they were. Then I read one and was all "Meh. I've read creepier." It's all about preference, right?