I picked up Midnight from a library shelf a couple years ago at random and absolutely loved it. I’ve started a couple of other Dean Koontz books since then, but nothing has been nearly as good, and I haven’t bothered finishing them. But I decided to end my summer with a fun, easy, puffball of a book, and I picked up Watchers.
Koontz is not a very good writer, but he is a terrific storyteller. (I cringe every time he flaunts the word “preternaturally” as an all purpose spooky adjective–as he did twice in this book–and I pretend he’s doing it on purpose when his characters converse in speeches more stilted than in an old Disney movie. Still, he knows how to pace a plot, that’s for sure.)
I liked Watchers. Like Midnight, there is suspense and even violence, but it rarely punches below the belt and always affirms individual dignity and even glory, and does so in a very traditional, and often outright spiritual, context. Despite the menacing cover, the title is not referring (as I first assumed) to some voyeuristic spies that the good guys must overcome with their open, honest virtue. No, the title actually refers directly to those Apollonian protagonists themselves: at one emotional point near the end, a character says, “We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guardians against the darkness.”
Yes, Dean Koontz is the novelistic equivalent of Thomas Kinkade as a painter–much glossy romanticizing in an idealized world (though to make the analogy more apt, Kinkade’s quaint village cottages would have to also be under assault by genetically enhanced killers produced by shadowy collectivist governments who are ultimately dispatched by a sympathetic band of rugged, clean-shaven regular joes who come together to weather the storm)–but so what? I like Thomas Kinkade paintings, too. Kinkade and Koontz make pleasant places.
Final Grade: B