Sunday, March 15, 2015

2015 RR - The Vision by Dean Koontz

I'm no Dean Koontz fan, but I somehow ended up with four or five of his novels in my home library. The third book I tackled for my 2015 Reading Resolution is The Vision. For the life of me, I couldn't find an online image of the edition I have (a 1987 reprint), so I took a picture myself.

What can I say about this book? Hmmm... Uh... It reads quickly? I actually abandoned it several years ago due to the painful dialogues, and only read it now to complete my resolution. Needless to say, I didn't enjoy it.

Plot

Mary, best-selling author who lives with her new husband Max in Bel Air, is a clairvoyant who visualizes murders before (and sometimes while) they occur. She helps police intercept the killers before they can continue their rampage. However, one day Mary's visions change: she can feel the pain of the victims and she fears for her life. It seems the murderer knows she's observing him, and is after her.

Pros

A quick, effortless read.

Cons

There are so, so many things I didn't enjoy about this book. For the sake of brevity, I'll give you a list of my top peeves.

1) The story itself it crammed with clich├ęs up until the final showdown with the villain, who (of course) takes the time to give a fully detailed recount of all his antics and motives before swooping in for the final kill.

2) The characters feel like paper cutouts and constantly share "as you know, Bob" conversations. It's ridiculous to read page after page of characters explaining things to each other--things they both already know! There has to be a more elegant way to transmit back story. I'd prefer a simple narrative paragraph every now and then instead of having the characters talk to each other like they're all going through acute bouts of amnesia.

3) The writing style itself is sometimes irritating. In this novel, Koontz seems to have developed some sort of allergy to conjunctions. What happened to the humble "and"? Gone. Here are some examples:

     - He sat up, switched on the lamp, looked around the room.
     - He let go of her wrist, pushed his hair back from his forehead.
     - At last the intense, dark-skinned young man stood up, helped the blonde to her feet.

I wouldn't mind if these parallel structures appeared every now and then, but here we're talking about page after page.

4) Another problem I have is the amount of scene breaks. The novel feels like it was written for a TV drama. We get two paragraphs, scene break, two more paragraphs with the same character five minutes later, scene break. Is it really necessary to cut scenes every time a minute goes by? Where's the flow? Just have a look at page 189 of my edition:

  7:00 P.M.
     Mary squeezed Max's hand and waited tersely. Any minute the walkie-talkie would crackle with a report from one of the deputies. [One more longish sentence.]
  7:03.
     Mary repeatedly glanced at her watch in the back glow of the police cruiser's headlights. She shifted restlessly from one foot to the other.
  7:04.
     For the first time in more than an hour, Chief Patmore looked at her, met her eyes. He wasn't happy.
  7:06.
     She was beginning to feel that she had been outmanoeuvred, outwitted. [Two more sentences.]
  7:09.
     She was numb with fear. "Something's wrong," she said.
     "What is it?" Max asked.
     [Scene continues for a very brief conversation and then we cut again to 7:30.]

In this case, the cuts are meant to increase tension, but come on. I just--I just can't. No. Really. I can't.

5) The author attempts to slip the reader a big fat red herring, but in my opinion fails miserably. So much attention is drawn to a single character in an attempt to make the reader think he's the culprit, that it quickly becomes uncomfortable and embarrassing.

The Vision is one of Koontz's earlier works--but not his first. Have another look at that cover. Yeah, it boasts he's the author of Strangers and Darkness Comes. Inside the book, we have a list with a total of seven Koontz titles. So, The Vision might be an early Koontz novel, but with seven others under his belt, I would hardly call it the work of an amateur.


*Sigh*

I'm not a big fan of giving bad reviews, but I can't lie, either. At least it's a quick, mindless read.


Bonus rant round!

Take a load of this conversation from page 20:

     "What a mayor you are," [Harry Oberlander] said with heavy sarcasm. "Hiring a witch to do police work."
     Henderson responded like a weary giant spotting yet one more tiny challenger with delusions of grandeur. "She's not a witch."
     "Don't you know there's no such thing as a witch?"
   
What did I just read? Oberlander accuses Henderson of hiring a witch. Henderson responds that she isn't a witch. Oberlander reminds Henderson that witches don't exist. Then why does he even accuse Henderson of hiring a witch in the first place?


Final round: The Longest Sentence in the History of Sentences

I'm not saying this sentence is bad. It does its task perfectly and really sets the scene. Do you want to read it? Do you? It contains spoilers, so only proceed if you dare.

Pages 244-245:

     Even before he completed the thought, the knife ripped into him, rammed out of darkness and into him, felt like the blade of a shovel, enormous, devastating, so devastating that he dropped the gun, feeling pain like nothing he'd ever known, and he realised that the killer had pitched the flashlight aside as a diversion, hadn't really been hit at all, and the knife was withdrawn from him, and then shoved hard into him again, deep into his stomach, and he thought of Mary and his love for Mary and about how he was letting her down, and he grappled with the killer's head in the dark, got handfuls of short hair, but the bandage came off his finger and the cut was wrenched open again and he felt that pain separate from all the others and he cursed the sharp edge on the car's jack, and the flashlight his the floor ten feet away, spun around, cast lunatic shadows, and the knife ripped loose from him again, and he reached for the hand that held it, but he missed, and the blade got him a third time, explosive pain, and he staggered back, the man all over him, the blade plunging again, high this time, into his chest, and he realised that the only way he could hope to survive now was to play dead, so he fell, fell hard, and the man stumbled over him, and he heard the man's rapid breathing, and he lay very still, and the man went for the flashlight and came back and looked down at him, stood over him, kicked him in the ribs, and he wanted to cry out but didn't, didn't move and didn't breathe, even though he was screaming inside for breath, so the man turned away and went towards the arch, and then there were footsteps on the tower stairs, and, hearing them, he felt like such a useless ass, outsmarted, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to recover his gun and climb those stairs and rescue Mary because stuff like that was for the movies, pain was pulverizing him, he was leaking all over the floor, dripping like a squeezed fruit, but he told himself he had to try to help her and that he wasn't going to die, wasn't going to die, wasn't going to die, even though that was exactly what he seemed to be doing.

And that's it for The Vision! I haven't had much time to post on the blog recently, but I have had time to read. I just finished the fourth book in my 2015 Reading Resolution list: The Princess Bride. Well...I finished the main story but still had to read the epilogue of sorts, and then my cat puked on the book so now I'm not sure if I actually got the nerve to finish those last pages...

1 comment:

  1. I love Dean Koontz, but I have not read this novel. I didn't get a significant turn off reading the excerpts as I realize his intent was to speed up the scenes, particularly as they are action suspense scenes. I'm okay with that. Those types of rule breaking only bug me when done in scenes meant to be slowed down and flowery, where every word counts.

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