The City by Dean Koontz

The City is a 398 page sort of paranormal fiction by Dean Koontz, published by Bantam in July 2014. I received an ARC from Netgalley for review.

The CityThe story centers on a young boy, Jonah Kirk Bledsoe (plus about 7 more musician’s names in between) and his experience with music, adult friends, a deadbeat father, and a spiritual embodiment of the city, known as Miss Pearl. Additional plot focuses on a bank heist, some murders, and some “intrigue.” Jonah, as a young, black piano player, idolizes many famous black musicians of his day (the 1960s). While some of the name drops of musicians and songs were an interesting add, it often didn’t feel like it had an impact on the story.

This book was at times interesting, at times incredibly boring. I liked the character of Jonah and I actually loved one of his adult friends, Mr Yoshioka. He was a fantastically complex character–I would have preferred the book to focus more on him, actually. Jonah appeared both as mature and annoyingly simple–I think in part because the story is told from Jonah’s point of view as an old man. It seemed that Koontz wanted this to lend importance to certain events, but it actually just pulled me out of young Jonah’s story and didn’t allow me to feel immersed in the actual ‘present’ (aka past) events.

Jonah’s mom, a singer perpetually looking for a better job, is like a cookie cutter character. In fact, a lot of the characters were kind of like that. It was actually the minor characters that I cared more for than the main ones. This also led to the book swaying from boring to interesting–small bits of fun parts when the minor characters had their own chapters to large narrative blocks of blah.

Overall, I really did not enjoy this novel. I started in July when I received the ARC, and just finished it on the 20th of September–struggling to read 5-10 pages a day when I could make myself sit down and read it. It took about 100 pages to even grab my attention at all. While some of the characters were interesting, the plot just couldn’t hold my attention. What should have been intensely suspenseful seemed to crawl.

While I have enjoyed many Koontz novels in the past, there are some that just do not stack up (Twilight Eyes). This is also one of those novels. For a better Koontz book, check out the “also wrote” section.

TITLE: The City
AUTHORDean Koontz
PAGES: 398
ALSO WROTE: Odd Thomas, Watchers
SORT OF LIKE: A musician’s biography meets Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman)
FIRST LINE: Prelude | “Malcolm gives me a tape recorder.”


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 23:10:49

    I read a couple of Dean Koontz books earlier this year, because I’ve heard a lot of good things about his writing, and I wanted to check it out.

    My reaction after reading two of his books, is that I’m not going to waste any more of my time reading his books.

    I don’t know if his earlier books were better, but from everything I’ve heard his recent stuff is nothing special. The two books I read could have been interesting, but just fell flat. It seems like he’s definitely an author who is living off of his early reputation. I also think he could benefit from a better editor, or maybe he should just start listening to his editor, because the books needed it badly.


    • Hannah Bassett
      Oct 06, 2014 @ 10:47:01

      I would agree–his editors need to have a firmer hand.
      I did want to give his books another chance after reading a few mediocre ones the last time I was consistently reading his novels. Now… I may never read another Koontz book again, because The City was pretty disappointing.


  2. Trackback: The City by Dean Koontz | Indiana Black Expo Exposed

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