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Friday, May 8, 2009

The Darkest Evening of the Year

The Darkest Evening of the Year

by Dean Koontz

(1/5 stars)

I've never read any Koontz before and never intended to except I needed something quick--and cheap--and my selection was limited. My question is: are they all this terrible? Seriously. This book went from mediocre to bad to terrible to outright laughable by the end.

I'm not sure, was this supposed to be suspenseful? The villains were more goofy and cheesy than scary in any way. The mystical twists struck me as hokey more than anything. And there was never any time when I didn't know I was reading a book.

To get to the dull story, it's about Amy Redwing, who was orphaned at two and has a Mysterious Past. Amy lives in California, where she rescues golden retrievers and rehabilitates them for adoption. One night she and her architect boyfriend Brian--who also has a Mysterious Past, though presumably is not an orphan--go to the home of an abusive drunk, where Amy pays two grand for the drunk's golden retriever named Nickie. The dog also has a Mysterious Past that is part of Amy's Mysterious Past. As well the drunk has a seemingly autistic little girl with Mysterious Eyes. Amy rescues the girl as well, but pays far less for her.

Meanwhile we have "Moongirl", an evil pyromaniac and her lover Harrow, who obviously are Mysterious as well because they don't have real names. Their lives are entangled with Amy and Brian's, but I won't get into how so I don't spoil anything and subsequently get yelled at by people for ruining a perfectly ridiculous book. There's also a hitman who has an obsession with literature, going by the name Billy Pilgrim from Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse V."

The only character I felt any connection to was the hitman and that's because I like Vonnegut's writing far more than Koontz. As I mentioned before, there was never a time where I didn't think of these characters as just characters; none of them ever seemed even the teensiest bit real. I feel a little duped by the back cover because the story to me sounded like Amy and the dog are sitting around on a presumably dark night when bad things start happening and they have to overcome them. As a concept there was at least some prospect for suspense there in the "things that go bump in the night" category. Instead we're treated to silliness about angels and Mysterious Pasts and girls/dogs with weird eyes. Ugh.

The dog angle only adds to the cheesiness of the story, as it's hard to gather any suspense when you're talking about dogs peeing or begging for treats. The whole thing has the feeling that was tossed off in a few hours on a lark to make a few bucks. Though I suppose it might help educate people about dog abuse, so there's that.

The only good thing is that the book is so easy to breeze through. I could get through 100 pages of my paperback version in about an hour, which means it took only about 4 1/2 hours. 4 1/2 hours I'll never get back! I'd have wasted them anyway.

At one point Moongirl tells Brian that Amy seems like Sandra Bullock, which is a vibe I picked up on. She'd be great in a movie version of this that would probably work better as a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime or something like that. Then it could be shortened to only kill 2 hours of your life.

BTW, People magazine describes this as "Silence of the Lambs" meets "Marley and Me." I take it they meant that as a compliment.

That is all.

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