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4.1 out of 5 stars13
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2010
This is Koontz's most Crichton-esque novel, and something of an experiment in narrative for him too, I think, because it moves between the past and present. He does this with signposts and clarity, which is a relief as such techniques can be disorientating if not downright confusing.

The science of this book is actually set out in the foreword, which in itself is preparatory for the fairly lengthy exposition of what is happening and why. Some like these logistical science-based premises, some do not. I do. My partner does not, so in short, we took take two views about the novel.

What we did agree upon is that the back half of the novel runs like a cheetah, and the action sprints out of its pound once it has been thoroughly set up. The `baddies' form a triumvirate (there are three of them in other words) of differing personalities and spend quite a bit of time looking over their shoulders at one another. The main protagonist is interesting, and turns out to be in need of a good psychiatrist. The streak of mysogyny is something that has recurrence in Koontz' works and hopefully is confined to his characters!

The hypnotic mind control theme raises the issues of accountability and responsibility and these are explored quite well, but ultimately without any conclusion within the fiction. And the means used to combat the threat is poses was one I guessed fairly quickly, which is a bit disappointing. But the book is about to turn 35 in 2011, so I guess I've had many years of succeeding fiction to double guess good plots which subsequently became well-used.

Particularly satisfying is the death of another central character, a sympathetic one - that may surprise readers as Koontz is often fairly reliable in shepherding his favourites across the finishing line, usually wounded and torn half to shreds but alive. Not all of them, if many, can say this in Night Chills.

It's a good solid Koontz book and will appeal more to the science fiction fraternity than to his horror and suspense fans. Despite the age of its theme and its more science-based content, its still very entertaining and distinctive writing.
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on 11 June 2009
This book is based on the fact that subliminal perception is present in our lives, but then Koontz takes this information and creates a story that takes the possibilities to a new, terrifying level. With the use of a drug and programming, a scientist (with some well-funded help) uses the sleepy town of Black River as a test case for his plan to control minds and behavior.

This is not a book for the squeamish or easily offended. There are numerous scenes of violence and explicit sex, and while they serve the plot very well, they are not easy to read (nor should they be - I would be fairly worried about anyone who was not at least marginally uncomfortable during some of these sequences).

I can't remember the last time I so actively and fervently wanted the death of a fictional villain. Salsbury is a hideous man, and Koontz writes him in such a way that I could only loathe him. I understood what caused his madness, but that didn't change my desire to see him pay for his evil. On the other hand, I was very pleased with the depiction of Paul Annendale and Sam Edison - believable characters stuck in an impossible situation, and dealing with it in the best way that they can.

I know I'm reading a suspenseful book when I'm unable to resist seeing what happens next, even though I'm frightened to find out. This was just such a book for me.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2010
Koontz opens his book with two strange dangerous looking men emptying some kind of chemical into a reservoir in the isolated logging town of Black River, they return to their motel, one drives off, one stays in the motel, both receive odd phone calls about locks and keys. One drives himself into a wall at 100 mph, the other opens his femoral and ulnar arteries with a razor and bleeds out in the motel bath. All over Black River people experience night terrors, and then to the town comes the sinister Ogden Salsbury, a pathological misogynist genius with a terrible hold over the people of the town. Widowed Paul Annendale comes to the town to camp with his two children Rya and Mark and is connected, too coincidentally, with the only two people not to suffer night terrors, his girlfriend Jenny and her father Sam, the only person who can decipher the events unfolding in Black River. A cracking start to a good story by Koontz, but it does creak a bit in places and the bad guys are too simply drawn.
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on 29 February 2008
This is one of the very few novels that left me wondering if anything like this fictional tale has ever been attempted in real life. We know that subliminary messages have been successfully employed in advertising but is there something else we do not know about where subliminaries are be used today?

I want to say so much about the story but it is difficult to add any detailed comment without giving too much away to any would be reader. Months after finishing the novel however, my mind kept inadvertently drifting back to the detail of this excellent book.
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on 9 November 2015
There is nothing really wrong in this book, I'm just not in the target audience as I fail to be drawn in at all. Fair plot, fairly well-described main characters and quite good villains. It's just that I can't get myself to care about what happens to the main characters, they're so perectly "normal". Stories about "normal" people bore the beejezus off me, but that is a question of personal taste. If you enjoy mainstream thrillers you may want to give this book a chance as it isn't halfbad. Technology is utterly dated though, something that can be excused in a 40 years old book.
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on 18 April 2014
As I've stated before, I love Koontz books. This one arrived later than I expected, but it was worth the wait! There was only a tiny bit of writing on the inside cover which is great for a used book. Other than that, the book appears utterly unmarked. I plan to read it several more times over the years to come. Thanks Amazon!
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on 28 October 2015
Awesome book. Really well written with a pace that keeps picking up throughout as the story takes on unexpected twists and turns. Great characters too. Highly reccommended.
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on 28 May 2003
As ever a mixture of good old American Heroism, cute kids, and really evil bad guys. A good old yarn, but not the most original in the world!! Only Koontz really can take such a story and make it his own. The strongest sex that I've ever seen in a Dean Koontz book though.
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on 25 December 2014
very good product
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on 9 May 2000
This book ranks up there with Phantoms. The plot is so feasible that you wonder whether this has actually happened. Can you ever look at an advert again and not think "I wonder....."
I am the key!
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