It had been years since I read my first and only Koontz, Watchers, but I’ve always remembered how smart, creative and compulsive this was. So I when I saw this new title while cruising the Mill Point Caffe Bookshop for maternity leave reads, I figured it might hit the spot. Boy did it ever, and totally took away the sting of the slight disappointment of my other recent thriller pick from James Patterson.
Devoted follows Woody, his mum Megan, and their struggle to rebuild a life in small-town America, after the untimely accidental death of Woody’s dad. Or was it accidental? Jason Bookman had worked for a mega science and technology company with some very big secrets, and Woody, an ultra-smart 11-year-old with autism, is on the brink of uncovering them. But while there are powerful enemies converging the Bookman family’s rural refuge to silence them, there are equally powerful — and miraculous — allies racing there to help.
This was another smart, creative and compulsive thriller from Koontz. Its strong characterisation of an ensemble cast, all circling a central event, reminded me of Stephen King favourites like Under the Dome and The Stand. The writing, though quite a bit more embellished than King’s, is clean and highly evocative. And its subject matter – I’ve got to say it, and this is too vague to be a spoiler – contains either purposeful homages to 101 Dalmatians (the original Dodie Smith book, not the movie), or it unconsciously echoes some of its elements.
In contrast to my recent criticism of James Patterson I was fine with the extremely short chapters; it’s better justified here, given the frequent switching between characters’ points of view. But I must say I find Koontz’ use of one-line paragraphs a bit too frequent. He doesn’t really need to use this heavy-handed suspense/emphasis building technique. The book’s highly suspenseful already and if anything the choppiness interrupts narrative flow.
He writes like this. In some parts.
It’s not really necessary.
Unless there is a moment of major suspense.
It niggled a bit.
But that’s a very minor quibble.
This is a fantastic thriller from a master of the genre writing at the height of his powers. The kind of thing you’ll knock off in two days (unless you’re caring for a three-month-old baby in which case it’s two weeks!)