Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Taking by Dean Koontz Review

Title: The Taking
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Horror/Dystopian Future
Pages: 448
Price:  $7.99
Rating: His best book ever. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Reviewer: Cindy Gunnin

Book Description:

In one of the most dazzling books of his celebrated career, Dean Koontz delivers a masterwork of page-turning suspense that surpasses even his own inimitable reputation as a chronicler of our worst fears—and best dreams. In The Taking he tells the story of a community cut off from a world under siege, and the terrifying battle for survival waged by a young couple and their neighbors as familiar streets become fog-shrouded death traps. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant in the face of mankind’s darkest hour, here is a small-town slice-of-doomsday thriller that strikes to the core of each of us to ask: What would you do in the midst of The Taking.

On the morning that will mark the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now they rise to find a luminous silvery downpour drenching their small California mountain town. A strange scent hangs faintly in the air, and the young couple cannot shake the sense of something wrong.

As hours pass and the rain continues to fall, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. Before evening, their little town loses television and radio reception. Then telephone and the Internet are gone. With the ceaseless rain now comes an obscuring fog that transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. By nightfall the Sloans have gathered with some of their neighbors to deal with community damage...but also because they feel the need to band together against some unknown threat, some enemy they cannot identify or even imagine.

In the night, strange noises arise, and at a distance, in the rain and the mist, mysterious lights are seen drifting among the trees. The rain diminishes with the dawn, but a moody gray-purple twilight prevails. Soon Molly, Neil, and their small band of friends will be forced to draw on reserves of strength, courage, and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a terrifying instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency. Epic in scope, searingly intimate and immediate in perspective, The Taking is an adventure story like no other, a relentless roller-coaster read that brings apocalypse to Main Street and showcases the talents of one of our most original and mesmerizing novelists at the pinnacle of his powers.


When I was in high school, I read Koontz’s The House of Thunder, a book originally published under one of his pseudonyms, and I was hooked. For the next decade or so, I read everything I could get from the man. I hunted down his backlist and his pen names and read him voraciously.
Then, I got a little bored.

It wasn’t that his writing was bad or stories were poorly written, just that they didn’t seem fresh and interesting anymore. I felt like he had begun to repeat himself. So I moved on to other authors.
The Taking changed all that.

This is far and away my favorite Koontz book ever and that’s saying something because I still really love The House of Thunder.  But this book makes it to the list of things I could take to a desert island and read over and over again. The story starts in pretty typical creepy horror fashion. The first thing you have to do is isolate the victims, er, survivors.

Molly and Neil live in a somewhat remote area of the California mountains. Molly is awakened by a surprise storm, one without thunder or wind and one with luminescent rain. She tries to explain the rain as having picked up a pollutant or odd mineral that makes it reflect light in the dark of night, but is pretty sure her explanations are wrong.  When she sees the coyotes gathering on her porch, she’s even more convinced that something very strange is happening.

Although she knows intellectually that the coyotes should be a threat to her, she marvels at their unusual behavior, their packing her porch and eventually goes out among them, the coyotes seeming to gather strength from her presence. But the rain smells odd and when it touches her skin, she has an overwhelming urge to wash it off. Eventually the coyotes leave the porch, seemingly even more afraid than before.

Back inside, her husband who usually sleeps without moving or waking, cries out, making Molly believe an intruder has snuck into the house. Then she tries to tell him that he cried out in a dream, only to have him tell her that there is a mountain, or maybe two, coming down on them and that the storm is moving west to east.

They gather their weapons and turn on the television to try to find out what is happening only to see reports of a similar storm, or maybe the same one, hitting all along the coast of the western Americas and deadly weather with the same luminescent rain beginning elsewhere in the world. That the rain is making people disappear doesn’t completely become evident until later.

Once the power, internet and phones go down, Molly and Neil gather some neighbors and start trying to find their way to safety. Learning who they can trust and understanding what happened is part of the epic journey of the novel.  Like most Koontz’s novels, dogs as the protectors of mankind, play a prominent role.

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