Friday, August 22, 2014

The City: A Novel by Dean Koontz

Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Bantam

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Jonah Bledsoe grew up in a time of turmoil and upheaval that the country shared during the late 1960s. Not only was this a distressing time for him and his family, but it was also a time of wonder and magic for the young boy. As a young black boy being raised by a single mother, Jonah was happy to share a talent for music with her and his grandfather.

He grew more aware of the strangeness of his surroundings after a visit from a mysterious woman who claimed to be something much more than human. Her visit awoke something inside the young boy and lead him down a path too dangerous for an adult, let alone a ten year-old child. But his connection to the events that unfolded grew deeper with each revelation. Will he escape the fate presented to him in dreams? What will his story hold for us?

A longtime lover of Koontz's books, I was excited to see this novel being offered for review at NetGalley. I was thrilled to have been given the chance to read it. From the first chapter it became clear that this wasn't the usual book one would expect from Koontz. Aside from the fact that there is little in the way of actual horror or other themes routinely present in his works, this novel was more like the transcript of a man telling a remarkable story from his past. The reader was given a seat next to the storyteller himself instead of learning the information third-hand from another person's point of view.

The novel centers around a young boy named Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk Bledsoe, or simply Jonah as I will call him. Yes, the long name was explained within the book and it added to the character instead of hampering him in any way. Both music and a person's beliefs were characters as much as Jonah and his family were in this story. The passion and childish innocence helped shape the events that came to pass. I believe that the mystical or supernatural element within the story was very real for Jonah and therefore, it allowed him a certain degree of fearlessness to know that something so large and with such deep knowledge would be there with him. I felt that the characters central to the story, Jonah's core group of family and friends, were well fleshed out and added another emotional layer to the story overall.

For much of the book, the pacing was slow but steady. There wasn't a large buildup with a huge letdown for me. I think that knowing this was being written as a transcript of events which happened to Jonah as he spoke them helped me to keep pushing my way through the story when the action began to slow. A lot of the action was psychological for a great deal of the book. Things came in dreams for Jonah or intuitive feelings whenever he was around something or someone. When events unfolded in the physical realm, they were executed in real time. By that I mean they didn't drag on for pages as some would have it do. Instead the action happened and the consequences followed in short order.

Many people didn't like this book, but I have to say that I did. While keeping in mind that it was a record of events being spoken by Jonah, the sense of "rambling" that I got was easily explained. It didn't dampen the story for me. It took a few chapters for me to become engrossed with the story, but once it had its hooks in me, I wanted to see how things ended. It was a solid story from beginning to end. If you like a bit of history mixed with excitement and the thrill of childhood wonder mixed together, this book will satisfy that need!

The City: A Novel by Dean Koontz is currently available at all major retailers, both online and local bookstores. It can be purchased in a variety of forms including hardcover, audio-book and Kindle formats. Use the link below to visit the book's Amazon page.
The City: A Novel by Dean Koontz

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