Book Recommendation: Intensity by Dean Koontz
I'd like to start this one out with a confession... Once upon a time, I just assumed all horror fans read Dean Koontz. I had no intentions of putting Dean Koontz books up here because he's a widely popular horror novelist and doesn't need a recommendation from little ol' me. However, the more I putz around horror literature forums, the more I see people say "I've never gotten into Koontz. Is there anything I should read?" The answer to that is, of-fucking-course.
Now I've also found that he's a little polarizing. Those who love him are forever devoted and those who don't, feel that way for all the wrong reasons, as far as I'm concerned. He's been called a "fake horror writer" and a "B-Level Stephen King". The man wrote traditional horror in the beginning of his career and the label stuck, people! He's branched out to all sorts of things since then, namely suspense/thriller. Do not expect Ketchem'esque shock-and-awe here folks. If you want to know what you're in for, imagine what Stephen King would be if you replaced the boyhood pals with loners, swapped the bullies for unnaturally intelligent, friendly dogs and turned the long, dark walk through the terrifying, dank hell cave into a rollercoaster through pre-hell purgatory. He writes well and he can spin a fucking yarn, this cannot be denied.
In my younger days, I couldn't get enough of him. And it all started with Intensity.
In the small town where I'm from, there were like three jobs a teenager could come by and they'd already been spoken for. My sister lived in the closest college town so I stayed with her for the summers. My brother was also in town and he brought his books with him. While meandering through the house one day, I spotted the most obnoxious book cover on the coffee table. This garish, disorienting thing beckoned to me with both intrigue and warning. The jacket sounded interesting so I read it, cover-to-cover, in a day and a half. If I'm being really open and honest here, folks, I'd stopped reading for a while during those tumultuous pre and early teen years so this was the first book I'd read in forever. It sparked the fire again and it's been burning ever since. So say what you will about Mr. Koontz, he'll forever have my loyalty.
What it's about...
Still coming to terms with her past and trying to find acceptance, Chyna Shepard agrees to visit the family of her college friend, Laura, for the weekend. But when a serial killer invades the quiet home, Chyna must use her strength and skills she acquired during her tumultuous childhood to survive. Having murdered everyone else, the serial killer Edgler Vess then takes Laura captive and Chyna must decide whether to remain untouched and alive, or follow Vess in an attempt to save the only family she has.
Why I liked it...
Jesus this book just does not slow down! From chapter 1 to the last word, I was completely rapt, heart racing, turning the page with ferocity, getting pissed when I had to eat or pee, rapt. Chyna is everything you want in a Survivor archetype and Vess is absolutely loony-tunes, but brilliant and terrifying. And as it should be, it's one thing after another for this poor girl and yet she stays true to character and I love her for it. Reading this as a teen, I looked up to her and fought with her and to this day she's a character whose strength I admire.
No, this is not typical horror.
It's suspenseful and thrilling and psychologically horrifying. I had the good fortune to pick this sucker up knowing nothing at all about it so I read it for what it was. And that's the best way to read a Koontz book because you never know the ratio of horror to suspense going in. This is assuming that you lovely folks lean to the side of horror, but if you're into the thriller as well, you'll love it. I'm eventually going to have a list of all my recommended reading and you'll find him a lot. As far as Intensity goes, I give it five bloody footprints. Yup, frickin five.