Book review: The City by Dean Koontz

The City
The City

On my patented Koontz-o-meter (which rates the world’s hardest-working and most inconsistent writer from his best [say, Odd Thomas] through his run-of-the-mill [his Frankenstein series] to the downright awful [every long-reading Deaniac will have his own favourite to add to this pile, mine being the second Odd Thomas novel, Deeply Odd]) I’d put this in its own, slightly below good but above average category. Average because, to be honest, for most of its 500 plus pages, nothing much happens. A child grows up in 1960s New York, his dad leaves, his mother and grandparents bring him up, he learns the piano; sure, there are intimations of bad things, and the Deanster keeps the pace up, the chapters short and the pages turning, but really, looking back having finished the book, pretty well all the action is squeezed into about 40 pages at the end: a slightly poor pay off for all the build up before.

On the other hand, it almost sneaks into the best category through, for want of a better word, a certain sweetness that permeates the writing; it just about pulls back from the sentimentality that cloys other books (helped by there being only a wag-on part for a dog in this one) while also avoiding most of the preachiness that has slipped into his more recent books. I like a writer trying to write about good people, and their struggle to remain true to that, more than explorations of evil. Evil is easy to understand; it is goodness that is the mystery, and Koontz is spending more and more time trying to understand it. I’m not sure I agree, but I enjoy reading his explorations of the subject.


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