on 19 June 2002
I wasn't going to give this book 5 stars as it wasn't quite as good as Koontz' previous 3 novels (Corner of his Eye, False Memory, and Seize the night. Get them and you can thank me later.) But it stands alone as too great a story NOT to give full marks to.
Koontz' ability to tell 3 completely seperate stories and all of a sudden meld them into one great ending is a genius the like only Tad Williams is equal to. And believe me, it is right at the end that all the characters eventually interact. And what great characters!
He raises so many questions throughout this book, and this makes it a real page turner. Why, if Preston Maddoc is a bio-ethicist did he marry a drug addict with 2 crippled children, what will happen to Leilani on her tenth birthday, why does Curtis Hammond act so strangely, and what on earth (or beyond) does it all have to do with PI Noah?
This book is gripping from the very start, with great characters throughout and the slow build up to explaining the boy Curtis is absolutely perfect. A truly excellent novel which barely gets bogged down in what I can only described as Koontz sentmentality. (Koontz fans will know what I mean by this.)
Buy it now!
on 13 January 2002
I have read all of Dean's books and so was looking forward eagerly to this latest offering. However I am afraid I was sadly disappointed by this one. I found it slow going, not a great storyline and padded out. I found myself skipping lines of text ( a sure sign a book is boring me ) and actually looking forward to finishing it so I could move on to something else, and its a long time since I felt that way about one of Mr Koontz's books. Sorry Dean its back to the drawing board for you.
on 7 December 2001
This is a cross genre novel written in the way that only Koontz knows how. A thriller with an element of science fiction, it also contains some horrifying moments.
At the beginning of the novel Micky Bellsong is trying to find some direction and purpose in her life and is inspired to change by Leliana Klonk a bright and pretty but disabled little girl who is convinced that her step father plans to kill her before she turns ten. Micky knows that the girl needs help and finds herself racing across the country in an attempt to save her.
The first half of the book tells the stories of Leliana Klonk, Micky Bellsong, Noah Farrell and finally the motherless boy. Although the stories of Leliana, Micky and Noah were gripping I found a lot of the tale of the motherless boy to be unnecessary padding and often found myself putting the book down in the middle of these chapters. Consequentley, I have graded the book down one star. By the time I was half way through, the stories began to intertwine and I found they became more and more intriguing and from then on I couldn't put the book down.
Oveall, this is a great book although in my opinion Koontz has written better.
I think ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN could've been split into two separate books. The fact that they weren't results in more pages for the buck, but also perhaps a less satisfying storyline.
On one track, we have a 10-year old boy, whose family has been slaughtered, fleeing cross-country from the killers. He comes upon the isolated Hammond farm in the wee hours inhabited by its sleeping residents. Within no time, the killers track the boy to the home and butcher the family. The boy continues his flight, taking along the Hammond's pet dog and the identity of the Hammond son, Curtis. Eventually, "Curtis" teams up with identical twins Cass and Polly - statuesque, street smart, pistol-packin', blond, ex-Las Vegas showgirls roaming the West chasing UFO sightings in a motorhome purchased with divorce settlement monies.
There's something strange about Curtis. His knowledge of the world is solely based on 9,658 viewed movies.
On a parallel track, we have 9-year old Leilani, born physically deformed like her older brother Lukipela because of their mother Sinsemilla's incessant and heavy drug use. Both Leilani and her mother are under the control of the former's stepfather, Preston Maddoc. The family travels around the country in a converted bus to sites of potential extraterrestrial landfalls. Preston claims that the ETs can heal Leilani's deformities. The girl knows better. The way she tells it, Preston, aka Dr. Doom, is a serial killer, who murdered her brother in the Montana woods on his tenth birthday. Leilani fears she's next.
Leilani befriends Micky Bellsong, a jobless, ex-con at rock bottom, who lives with her Aunt Gen in the Los Angeles area. After hearing Leilani's story, Micky decides to redeem her life by rescuing the girl from Preston and Sinsemella, but the three depart before she can act. To help track down and recover the girl, Micky employs private detective Noah Farrel, who's burdened with guilt for having let his father beat his sister into a permanent coma seventeen years before.
Have I lost you in the melodrama yet? In any case, all players eventually collide in Idaho at the dilapidated home of a pathetic recluse that gives new meaning to the term "pack rat".
This thriller is no better than a beach read, though it may take several days while soaking up the carcinogenic UV rays. That the book would have been better split into two is evidenced by the awkward last chapter, which made me think that the author, having arrived at his publisher's deadline, mused, "Uh-oh, now what do I do to wrap this up?"
The conclusion pretty much brings to closure the Leilani arm of the story, but leaves so much unclarified about Curtis's situation and future that I smell a sequel coming. That's fine, as long as it includes Polly and Cass.
ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN better serves, perhaps, as an outlet for the author's loathing for utilitarian bioethics, that philosophy which condones (and, at its extreme, promotes) the elimination of those members of society deemed unproductive, i.e. those who are aged, deformed, insane, terminally ill, or just dirt poor.
The author also reveals his predilection for dogs. I'm a cat person myself.
on 1 March 2002
This book is poor anyway, but coming from an accomplished author like Koontz somehow makes it worse. It lacks the usual pace and depth which mark out Koontz's novels and is peopled with a few of the most annoying characters I have encountered in some time e.g. Leilani a girl who is, I assume, supposed to be portrayed as lovably kooky yet intelligent by Koontz but comes across as simply precocious, annoying and trying too hard to be smart. As for aunt Geneva, who we are also supposed to love for her oddities (namely confusing the reality of her life with film snippets) she is another unreal, annoying character. Indeed the whole cast seem to be 'novel' characters i.e. ones obviously created by an author, rather than ones that take on an air of reality through great dialogue and realistic writing. Finally, the characters do not come together until far too late. As usual, Koontz alternates chapters but it lacks excitement this time due to a failure to connect what is happening between them. In addition we are taken back and forth between the longest 'chase' in narrative history and, although we can soon guess why Curtis Hammond is being pursued, a lack of timely explanation means we don't really care. As for the book's ending, it is stupidity in itself, worthy of a short story at best. In future, Koontz should, perhaps, return to his horror/thriller genre roots, steer clear of sci-fi and take a bit longer to produce a meaningful work (not all novels have to come out bang around Christmas time).
on 16 January 2002
...I was eagerly awaiting Deans newest offering but was sadly disappointed.
I am normally turning the pages of his books quickly, engrossed in the story wanting more, but with this book they were being turned quickly to put me out of my misery!
Some of his old magic is evident with a few well-developed characters, with of course excellent main characters. For me however there seemed to be a lot of padding out with the story coming together too late and not enough revealed earlier in the story to build my anticipation and desire for more.
Do authors get a prize if they manage to squeeze in bit of Quantum Theory these days?
At least I got to sleep early, don't rush the next book Dean.
on 18 June 2008
I love all (well nearly) Dean Koontz's past books but this one annoyed the hell out of me....it was written as though someone had said to Dean 'write a story to win a creative writing contest and you MUST include 4 million metaphors, 10 zillion similies, enough alliteration to sink a battle ship and include a wise-cracking 9 year old that will make you want to stick pins in your own eyes'....and Lo! Dean did just that!
I like it when Dean includes humour in his novel - Life Expectancy' is one of my favourites - but this was waaaaay toooo much - the wise-cracking is so irritating. I was sorely tempted to give up on it because I couldn't bear reading about the girl, her crazy mother, the neighbours, Curtis and Noah anymore but I stuck with it and don't feel I gained anything. If you want to read Dean's entire works then it's a must but if you just like dipping in and out of different authors, read one of his others or this will put you off for life.
on 19 May 2002
I have been a huge fan of Dean Koontz for years, and while I have thought a couple of his novels were formulaic and below his usual standard, with this book he seems to have got back to the type of stories he does best. Everything I've come to expect from Koontz, alien encounters, mysteries, thrills, likeable characters and evil adversaries are all there, plus the ever faithful and loveable dog that Koontz is so good at characterising. Far from skipping lines and falling asleep, as some reviewers have said, I've rushed through this book and regretted having to put it down. All his usual well-thought out moral, ethical, emotional and fearful aspects are there, and its pace increases steadily, bringing the four separate character groups together into a fantastic and un-expected finale. If you're a regular fan, give this one a chance and try it. If you loved Strangers, you'll love this.
on 3 August 2014
This book is quite a remarkable read. At times the prose is poetic and hugely effective in reminding us of the beauty of our world and the universe we find ourselves in, and at other times, you find yourself gripping the book so hard that your hands are cramped at chapter's end with fear your soul and those of the characters that you are reading about.
This is not a light read. There are several plot strands running parallel to each other at book's beginning, and of course it is not long before the alert reader begins to wonder how and when they will all become linked. But early on, the reader is having too much fun being scared and enjoying the sense of wonder each page brings them to care. The book is 681 pages in length.
At once, Mr Koontz has convinced us to care about a young boy running for his life away from the men who murdered his parents before his eyes. We soon learn of a young dog he befriends - and that the boy in question is so young and so naive that he does not even realise the dog in question is female. A small point, you may think - and you would be right - but given the God-like nature the boy had appointed to his mother, it is interesting to discover this about the dog. After a close shave and exciting escape from the bad guys in a remote diner, it is the dog which helps him at last to find short term freedom and once again lead the boy to salvation.
Turn the page and the next chapter focuses in a plethora of characters, each of which have their own troubled pasts. At once Mr Koontz focuses on a young girl who claims her stepfather is a UFO obsessed mass murderer, and whose mother is a drug raddled psychiatrically distressed lunatic who does not have a good word to say about anyone. Keep reading and the young girl in question has developed an amazing talent for assisting others, and the adult in this group is suddenly being emotionally and psychologically analysed by the young girl sitting opposite her in a caravan. Keep reading and (taken from page 133 of this amazing tale) you learn the town is suffering a major power failure, and the chapter is closed with words of stunning beauty and a feeling of impending doom:
"A butterfly flutter of light, a sibilant sputter, a serpent of smoke rising lazily from the black stump of a dead wick: One of the three candles burned out, and darkness eagerly pulled its chair a little closer to the table."
Needless to say, i like this book. I am stunned at the beauty of the writing, and also the frequency at which the reader is presented with such gifts. The plot sizzles along at a decent pace and the characterisation is awesome. Given the glorious size of the tome, you will find yourself reading just one more chapter, and then another, and then just one more to see if any of the parallel threads the book starts with show any hint of merging. Not this chapter? Oh well, maybe the next one!
Full marks for this amazing effort.
on 31 December 2013
Slow to get going. Too many unanswered questions at the end. Eg what/who were the scallawags? What had happened to 'The Hole' that was different enough to draw sufficient attention to get her taken away? Was she dead, dying, or alive? Did Micky and Geneva get custody of Leilani or did they take her illegally? Were the deaths on the burning house correctly attributed, bearing in mind that the real murderer was the one with the bullet in him? I could go on. Oh, and there were reams of unnecessary prose which didn't move the story on, so I resorted to skim-reading, so quite likely to have missed some of the answers in order to eliminate boredom. I liked the story line.