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2.5 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2010
Having been reading and collecting Dean Koontz books for the last 15 years or so I very nearly didn't buy this latest book from Koontz, his recent novels have ranged from being pretty mediocre to very poor. Additionally having read the reviews on the US Amazon website, a large number of which are very negative, I was dreading that this was going to be on the same level as Koontz recent very poor efforts, namely 'Your Heart Belongs to Me' and 'The Darkest Evening of the Year'. In my opinion Breathless is not quite as bad as those two novels, however it is yet another below average Koontz book.

Firstly I found this to be a very strange novel, not the story, but the way it has been written. Early in the book three separate plot lines are introduced, there is the main plot, a guy and his lady friend who find two strange fluffy creatures in the woods, they are typical Koontz characters, both are incredibly nice people with tragic pasts. They also have a very nice dog. A second plot line involves a psychotic killer, and a third involves some guy out gambling in casinos. Halfway through the book another couple of sub plots are introduced, involving an alcoholic hermit / tramp and another psychotic killer. Now you would assume that all of these different story lines are somehow going to gradually link into each other as the story progresses, some of them do eventually, although in a very limited way, and some literally don't link in at all. My only assumption is that most of these side plots were put in as padding by Koontz who didn't have enough material for the main plot. Having said that without the sub plots there would be no menace or nastiness to the book at all, it would simply be a story of fluffy cute animals running around.

This is not a completely terrible book though, I found the varying plot lines to be quite intriguing and kept my interest as I read through the story, accordingly the first half of the book, as the separate stories develop is pretty good stuff. However it's pretty much downhill in the second half. If you've read a few of Koontz more recent novels you'll start to sink as you progress through the book, with no discernible link developing between the varying characters, you will realise that Koontz is going to suddenly clean-up all the plot lines, with a naff explanation and no real substance, in the last twenty pages or so, a characteristic of many of Koontz recent novels.

If your new to Koontz read his earlier stuff e.g. Watchers, Phantoms, Midnight, which are all brilliant. In my view Intensity was the last really great book Koontz did, which is probably going back ten years or more now.
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This book gets off to a good start. There are some interesting, though somewhat formulaic plotlines woven throughout, and some of the characters start off as intriguing. Then the book begins to spiral downward ever so slowly, and the author becomes positively self indulgent.

Clearly, the author has some very strong opinions with respect to governmental agencies, defense attorneys, elected officials, and so on. The author makes his rants part of the story but, somehow, it feels like...well...rants by a survivalist or far right wing ideologue of some kind.

Still, the story does have some steam. It revolves around two strange, white furred creatures that come to earth and are discovered by a reclusive man who lives with his Irish wolfhound in rural Colorado. So, this does grip the reader's imagination. After all, what are they? What do they want? Why are they here? Unfortunately, the reader will never really know.

Add to this the fact that that the characters, while initially intriguing, seem to be one dimensional. They are either god's angels on earth or the devil's spawn. There is no in between. Thematically, the book seems to be about good and evil, but it never really finds its groove.

Still, none of these shortcomings are what eventually torpedoes the book. It is the race to the finish line and the unsatisfying end to the story that does it in. A reader may endure some of the shortcomings along the way to the finish line but will feel decidedly cheated by the rushed feel of the ending and the lack of some rhyme or reason as to why some characters were included in the first place. The book has an almost nonsensical ending that is decidedly unsatisfying.

I am a fan of the author, so I was quite disappointed and let down by the turn the book took, as I know that the author is capable of delivering more than he did. In the final analysis, I did not like the book.
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on 30 September 2010
Breathless fits the standard Koontz pattern that seems to have become a template for all of his fiction now. Heroes who are sugary sweet, loving and kind, with a dog, and a tragic past. Villains who are psychotic and deranged, yet strangely likeable. A pseudo-scientific mystery driving the story forward and making the reader yearn for an explanation. Eventually, the explanation comes, in the space of about two pages, and then the novel ends abruptly. It's almost as if he gave up on the story half way through and thought, yeah whatever, they all lived happy ever after, the end.

I enjoyed reading Breathless because it felt like 4 different stories, some only vaguely linked, some not linked at all. I liked trying to guess how they would be linked. I was disappointed by the weakness of the links, or absence thereof, but still, it was a fun ride.

The pseudo-scientific mystery of Breathless is the discovery of two strange creatures in the woods. We are left wondering, are they aliens? Genetic experiements? Or what? And good old Dean Koontz does not let us down with his fascinating explanation. Unfortunately, he kills off the novel soon after the revelation, just as all sorts of possibilities open up.

Breathless is not a thriller; it's more of a thinking novel, seemingly written to provoke philosophical and scientific debate in the way that Michael Chricton used to. I don't think Mr. Koontz will ever achieve that with his novels, but he will always entertain and fascinate.
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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2010
I've been a Koontz fan for a while too ... probably since the early 80's and have generally enjoyed everything he's written( even Frankenstein) Have moaned in the past about some early work being recycled as if it was new but overall that's a small gripe.

I got the feeling from this book that he started off intending it to be a lot longer ... but into the last third of the story it seemed as if we were reading the draft plot line - almost as if he was coming up to a deadline snd needed to finish the manuscript - or maybe the editor ws too heavy handed.

A decent enough read that kept me up a little longer than I wanted so I coudl finish it
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on 27 February 2011
I enjoyed the book at the beginning, but as the story went on, I started saying, stop it stop it, STOP adding NEW characters with completely different side plots. I was hoping for a fantastic link between them all, but, oh no, only one or two had a faint link, others were totally off the main plot.

I didnt understand the book at all. the ending was rushed, the side plot about the tramp making no sense.

two characters had a "sense" which wasnt fully explained, too rushed, and didnt make any sense either.

I love his books, but this is a let down.
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on 13 April 2011
I am a big fan of Dean and have read numerous books of his now. The last one prior to this was The Watchers an exceptional read; however this one was clearly a contract filler. I just got the feeling that Mr Koontz was meeting some deadline and just churned out this utter rubbish to meet it. The book finished before it got started. The main characters has the potential to be very good, but it just lacked effort and fizzled out.
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on 15 March 2010
A very strange book. Promising start with lots of seperate characters that one would expect to come together at some point - but they don't, the connections are so tenuous as to be virtually irrelevent. This book reads like an over-zealous editor has taken the real finished product and removed parts of the book completely at random. Shame as Dean Koontz is one of my favourite authors.
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on 19 August 2011
I got bought this book from a family member; previously having never heard of Dean Koontz or any of his work. It seemed promising enough, the blurb on the back appeared relatively intriguing, a good on the run plot, haven't read one in a while.

I began with reasonably high expectations and the beginning of the book didn't necessarily fail to disappoint. The book broaches on quite a diverse amount of subjects, and most of those fairly in-depth to the point where it's obvious the author has researched around the topic to a large extent. The opening chapters are interesting and to a point well written; introducing the reader to three different characters and it all seems set for them to entwine in an impressive and praise-worthy way.

Unfortunately this was not the case. All the book deserves is a huge 'Do not buy' sign plastered on the front cover, preferably printed in red. The reason being is this book has no idea what it wants to be; and therefore ends up being a failure. We're introduce to an increasing amount of characters, all with their own increasingly boring and damaged background; and some of these characters never even meet. Others have no relevance to the main plot and the main plot itself seems to have been conceived by a depressed teenager on crack. I mean intense gloominess and then fluffy white animals... seriously?

The reason the book gets two stars was, and this is the sad thing, it seems to have been written from a once proficient author. The detail, the writing style is all done pretty well. Other reviews on here seem to have confirmed his earlier work is on a higher standard; I'll just have to take their word for it, lets just say I won't be going out of my way to look up his name.

At the end of the day; the way this book is written is comparable to a terrible product with fantastic advertising. Strip away all the superficial glamour, the appearance and the way it's all presented; and what have you got left?
Answer is: a terrible product.
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on 27 August 2016
This book opened with a lot of promise, kept it going through 400 pages of quality suspense, drama, hints of romance, and speculative philosophy mixed with metaphysics, but dropped the ball with an incredibly rushed ending that implied Mr Koontz forgot to finish the book before he started writing his next mega seller, and for the first time in a long, long time, I have to say the finale was a disappointment.

I love animals. Mr Koontz writes in a way that implies he loves animals, too. And I respect that, greatly. Therefore Dean Koontz books and myself form a natural mix. I enjoyed BREATHLESS. Dont get me wrong. There were multiple plot threads running concurrently and it is a natural assumption for the alert reader that they would tie in together at some point. They did, but ...

But it all seemed rushed with an ending that left a lot to be desired, and really, the book could have been (and _should_ have been) another four hundred pages long. That would have given our man Koontz the time and the scope to write an epic work of speculative magnificence that is worthy of having Dean Koontz on the front cover.

The ultimate solution to what the visitors to the forest (introduced in the gorgeous opening chapter) actually are, was interesting and fascinating, even, but would have been an awesome read if more time was spent presenting it to the reader. The two major characters - Grady and Camilla - both have issues from the past they are trying to deal with in their own way, but the book brings them back to their present and forces them to deal with them again. And yet they didn’t.

The book is excellent in grabbing you emotionally, and yet it leaves you high and dry, unsatisfied even, with the ridiculously abrupt ending. I am repeating myself here, but that is the main impact this book has had on me. Mr Koontz certainly knows how to write fantastic, multi-million selling thrillers, with his brilliant Koontzian flair for the supernatural, but this one fell flat. It had me going; certainly in the first half I thought i was reading a new age classic horror story for the ages, and that thread of the book’s plot certainly resolved itself well enough. But the book is essentially about what Grady and his beautiful Irish wolfhound discovered in the forest. And given the supposed impact it has on (SPOILERS) ... The reader finds out what it is, but only barely.

It could have been _so_ much more.

Three stars for a book that should have been an epic, beautiful, classic Koontz saga for the ages. It isn’t.
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on 27 February 2012
I would like to say this book takes the readers breath away, but it doesn't. It's ambitious, but, the plot holes are a major issue. For one, it is never explained why it is called "BREATHLESS" it's about an average guy finding a new species that has both intelligence and curiosity, i would of thought that Dean could of come up with a better title that links to the plot in some way. of course Dean Koontz (bless him)even includes the dramatic context of the minor characters, but doesn't connect to the main plot at all. It would be an amazing story if he wired all the contexts of the characters together at the end, and finished the book on a high noted explosion. Alas, the reader spends more time learning about what one character did when they were on a boat, rather than about where the new species came from. altogether, its an aeroplane novel. Koontz had the chance (and the imagination) to make this into a great thriller. But, it was tragic waste of his talent as a writer. I may have been vague in this review, but only as much as Koontz was about where the aliens came from. And don't say magic, it's not his style. P.S if I'm completely honest, if Koontz published "BREATHLESS" with a drawing of someone flagging you on each page, it would have been less insulting.
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