View Full Version : Dean Koontz

M Sanderson
04-10-2009, 10:24 AM
Is he a good writer?

I bought a few of his books at discount stores and library sales.

The one I started reading was 'Tick Tock' and it was the biggest piece of padding I ever came across. Couldn't finish it, with the relentless attempts to stretch out the limited material.

Can anyone recommend any of his other books? What is it that's good about him?

Wostry Ferenc
04-10-2009, 10:47 AM
I'll try to be brief.

His books are piles of shit.

John G.
04-10-2009, 11:02 AM
All I've read of his was the novelization of "The Funhouse," which I remember being alright for what it was, although I suppose not exactly a good representation of his work... I finished it during a single plane ride from Las Vegas to New York.

I've heard that a lot of his novels have an underlying politically conservative bent... is this true? If so, he would seem to be the antithesis of Stephen King in that regard, not that King is overtly political mind you, but the subtext is there.

Barry M.
04-10-2009, 11:16 AM
Best is probably WATCHERS; I've never read anything else that even comes close. It's the most King-like (I maintain that's a good thing), the story's pretty diverting, and it has a lot of hooks (dogs, kids, Frog & Toad Are Friends) to make it likeable. It's the Koontz pattern, and it's so successful that he never had to get better: he's sloppy as hell, makes King at his most indulgent look like a Shaker with a design budget. I suspect he either gets zero editing, or his editors just do what they can with whatever processed words he hands in.

I'd call his stuff airplane or beach books, but honestly, you have to slog through them. I can't even quite read them for the ideas, 'cause they're not really worked out, just thrown up.

Wow, I didn't realize how much I dislike Dean Koontz books. Kudos to him for running a successful writing business; I've heard he's a nice guy, too. I'm either disappointed or jealous.

For sheer pure story drive, with imagination and a slapdash energy, an almost naive craftsmanship, and less filler, Richard Laymon's the kind of anti-Koontz.

M Sanderson
04-10-2009, 11:45 AM
Only problem with Laymon is how silly his books can get. But Laymon has a good stripped down style, writes some snappy dialogue that keeps things moving, has some perverse enough ideas. And seems to have had an influence on Ketchum.

So anyway, it's not worth checking any more Koontz books out, then? Doesn't look encouraging!

Barry M.
04-10-2009, 11:49 AM
Laymon wrote like a dirty-minded thirteen year old, true.

Early Koontz is worth checking out, if you think you're interested, but I think there's a definite decline in quality as productivity ramped up. He wrote DEMON SEED, so we owe him.

MJ Smith
04-10-2009, 11:50 AM
I've heard that a lot of his novels have an underlying politically conservative bent... is this true?

Definitely, his books are horror fiction for stereotypical Middle Americans . . . the kind of people who worry about Satanic cults and the Gay Agenda (both make frequent appearrences in Koontz' writing). Now, there's nothing wrong with writing from a conservative point of view - see Russell Kirk's horror stories - but Koontz embodies a particular, paranoid/apocalyptic morality, where the most interesting aspects of horror writing (mortality, the unknown, the other, etc.) are misused and beaten into clumsy metaphors and hamfisted morals - a lot of "tough on crime"/think of the children crap.

I can't believe I just put that much thought into Dean Koontz' novels. :(

Barry M.
04-10-2009, 11:55 AM
I can't believe I just put that much thought into Dean Koontz' novels. :(

Empty vessels. There's room for lots of thought to be put into 'em.

Wostry Ferenc
04-10-2009, 11:55 AM
Laymon is miles better (or was, RIP) than Koontz ever been.

Brian Lindsey
04-10-2009, 11:57 AM
I've only read one of his novels, something about Nazis and time travel. It was... okay.

Steve R
04-10-2009, 01:55 PM
Koontz has written tons of books. Many under pseudonyms - Owen West for Funhouse in the original ppbk. He even wrote one that folks thought was King under a fake name. I enjoyed Phantoms. Never got hooked on him. He's not what I'd consider good but he is very popular, well branded in horror for some reason.

There is no problem with Richard Laymon.
He gives you exactly what he says, does it well and has a great time doing it. Some are better than others but he is, to me, the equivalent of a trashy B movie. Traveling Vampire Show, The Island and In The Dark are stand out thrillers that you can't turn the pages quick enough for.

Randy Thomas G
04-11-2009, 03:31 AM
Kootnz's THE BAD PLACE is an interesting and quick-moving horror/sci-fi hybrid with some particularly grotesque and perverse set pieces. In brief, there's a guy who is waking up each day in a different place who can't remember who he is. He is being pursued by his psychotic blood-drinking brother Candy, the product of LSD damage and an insane hermaphroditic mother.:D

Unfortunately, the detective couple the protagonist contacts are very bland and lame and he inserts a completely unnecessary action sequence with them at the beginning that is laughable. Past that though and it's a trashy good read.

I've heard his early sf is better, I remember a very strange short story by him in Again, Dangerous Visions.

Dusty B
04-15-2009, 02:56 PM
I used to love Koontz, but in the last ten years or so, since achieving mainstream success with the Normies, his books have really nosedived in quality. I first noticed it when I read False Memory. Not a bad book, but it disintegrates towards the end and when the motives behind the villain's plan is revealed, I almost threw the book away over the sheer stupidity of it. Then I read Tick Tock, which for the first thirty pages is excellant, but then it veers into outlandish comedy and with the last part of the book was just painfully bad. I rather liked The Taking for the most part. A lot of it was genuinely scary, but the actual writing of it felt like he was trying to write as someone a lot better than he can, like he wanted the book to be taken as literature or something. And now he seems to be content pumping out standard issue thrillers that wouldn't be out of place on the Lifetime Network.

There are some older Koontz books I greatly enjoyed. Try out Watchers, Mr. Murder, Intensity (which I swear Aja ripped off blatantly for High Tension), Dragon Tears, Cold Fire, Twilight Eyes, and Darkfall. I remember loving all of those when I finished reading them. Of course, I was between the age of 14-20 when I read them, so they might not be as good if I went back to them.

Kristian R
04-15-2009, 03:56 PM
I read Night Chills, Phantoms and Strangers when I was a kid. Phantoms was the bomb,yo. But then again, I was a sucker for the Lovecraftian stuff he threw around in that one.

MJ Smith
04-15-2009, 07:13 PM
Phantoms was the bomb,yo.
I think it's his best novel. Still silly at times (the badass biker who - gasp - smokes POT!) but definitely more cohesive than most of his newer stuff, with a real cool monster. The movie was okay.

edit: Twilight Eyes was really fucking goofy w/the goblins and the plastic surgery, etc. (maybe spoiler: fallout shelters)

Garrett Sorensen
04-15-2009, 07:34 PM
I once knew a "Bram Stoker winning" horror author who talked to Dean on the phone every few months. I was inspired to read a few early Koontz novels which are the epitome of page turners, even down to the lack of "she says" filler in the dialogue. Also, I have a hard back copy of The Oddkins (Dean's dark childrens story) which he wrote a long inscription to me in gold ink. I can't seem to find the book right now but it said something like: "You better eat your vegetables Garrett, or the creatures will track you down in the night and make you REAL sorry." Apparently Dean is something of a type A personality.

Josh S
04-15-2009, 07:38 PM
I've read maybe a half dozen Koontz books. Extremely quick reads and while I didn't dislike any of them I can't really remember much about any of them either.

Todd J
04-16-2009, 01:18 PM
I tried him three times and although I like the premises of the stories I read (I dont recall the titles) he always made the endings as some logical reasoning for the supernatural goings on, and that was a turn off for me. I haven't read anything by him in 15 years.