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'The City' by Dean Koontz

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Random House Bantam Dell

The City by Dean Koontz


Dean Koontz has been writing bestsellers for decades and I have been reading his books for that long. I was excited to have an advance review copy of his upcoming novel, “The City,” so I had to make sure that I read it before the rest of the world got their copies.

“The City” is the story of Jonah Kirk. He is a young boy from a musical family who possesses a rare talent on the piano that could transcend any of the other talents that had served to form him. He is slowly coming to grips with the world around him as his life is turned upside down when his family is broken apart and he finds new solace in his neighbor upstairs, a Japanese man who had his world shattered during World War 2, and a magical woman named Pearl that gives him the means to allow his talent to flourish. Jonah begins his journey toward manhood by discovering the true magic of music and friendship.

Jonah is going to learn that growing up is not all positive as he is exposed to the darker things in life as well. His faith is challenged as he becomes entangled in a plot by a group of evil people, including his father, which will threaten his life and the lives of those he holds dear. Jonah is destined to become a man of exceptional musical talent as well as strong morals. First, however, he must live through his childhood to become that man.

So here there I was all excited to have an advance copy of a Dean Koontz book and anxious to start the book. After all, I have read more books by Koontz than I can remember, probably all of them he has written except for maybe one or two, and now I get to read his new book early. Then I dig in and before too long I come to a sad realization: this is unquestionably the worst book I have ever read by Koontz. So now I am bummed to the extreme by a book that just has very little plot, very little in the way of any real characters or events that I can even begin to care about, and a whole lot of rambling by the author that ultimately does nothing other than bore me.

There are some things to like about “The City.” The writing is strong and there is some good imagery. The problem with the novel is that there just is not enough of a story to support a novel. “The City” would probably make a very good novella but there is way too much filler to the story that just does not make any difference to the story that causes it to be 150 pages too long. It is in all of this that the story quickly loses focus and I found that I really just did not care about what happened to the characters. There is a good kernel of a story here but the execution is lacking. “The City” is a wandering novel that lacks the focus and coherency to be compelling or entertaining. I have been a fan of Koontz for over 20 years now and found myself disappointed by one of his novels for the first time.

I would like to thank Random House and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The City” is scheduled to be released on July 1, 2014.

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