| (3 Jul)|
|A novel that starts well, sputters in the middle, and ends with a splat.|
There is so much promise in the first fifty or so pages of Watchers. When Travis finds Einstein in the mountains, seemingly protecting him from the highly threatening call of mystery lurking deeper in the trees, I was intrigued. When Nora is stalked by a television aerial repairman, forced into horrific situations she couldn't (in her mind) get away from, I was edge-of-my-seat terrified. When a hitman starts killing targets, all somehow connected, while devouring their life-force in some sort of occultic ritualist fashion, I was completely sold. Tell me more, Mr Koontz!
Then...it kind of starts bleeding out, and Koontz never patches the wound. Travis and Einstein save Nora from the repairman, cutting short a story thread which, while horrible, also had real legs for a thriller. Travis and Nora invent a way to communicate with Einstein, who explains something is hunting him and also he is the goodest genius dog ever, yes he is! The hitman kills some more people, the plotlines slowly meet in the middle, and the story goes from interesting premise to downright boring.
After some really random, meandering plotlines involving fake passports, a vet, some rich kid with horses, I was at the point of not caring. I kept reading, but mostly out of a sunk cost fallacy. And because Einstein is the bestest boy ever and I wanted to make sure mean old Koontz doesn't kill him.
And that's when we get the underlying thesis, delivered with a dead-pan, this-is-really-happening dualogue between Travis and Nora, where I swear I could see them in my imagination turn to the camera and stare at me: Libertarianism good, government bad.
Consider the fourth wall shattered, Mr Koontz. Consider me covered in rubble and dust. Consider me, at best, bemused.
I understand that theme and meaning comes from an author's own beliefs and philosophies, and I love reading the literal inner monologues of authors who manage to weave those beliefs and philosophies into their stories. Koontz fails to do that here. Instead, he bluntly slaps the reader in the face with his honestly, the government should just let us live our best lives, huh, Nora yes that is correct, Travis bullshit and it honestly ruined the book for me. It was so clumsy and ham-fisted, it took me out of any remaining care for the rest of the story, and left me feeling a little hollow inside.
Watchers is regarded by Koontz fans as, possibly, his best work. If that's the case, I don't think I'll be reading any of his other novels.
At least he doesn't kill the dog, I guess.