The Taking by Dean Koontz

The Taking by Dean Koontz

A sci-fi disappointment

Please note: This review contains spoilers!

I hadn't read any Dean Koontz (except for his pet memoir, A Big Little Life, but I'm not sure that counts) since high school, so when the sci-fi/fantasy book club I belong to chose The Taking to read for this month's selection, I was somewhat interested, but had my reservations, too.  I remembered the Koontz books I read in high school as being average suspense/horror novels, but I lost interest after only a few of his books -- I don't remember exactly why I stopped reading him at the time.To be fair, I was intrigued by the description of the novel.  A couple living in relative solitude, cut off from society by an apparent alien invasion, and forced to work together to survive -- sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, I absolutely hated the choppy, overly descriptive writing style.  It was very repetitive -- descriptions were trying too hard, if you know what I mean, using lots of big words and repetitive adjectives, but combined with that was a very choppy writing style, with only one or two sentences per paragraph.  Despite the short paragraphs, though, the prose would often linger, describing the same thing over and over (and with far too many adjectives each time).  It made for a very rough and disjointed reading experience, so mostly I just skimmed it.

Despite my issues with the writing style, I was enjoying the story until perhaps halfway through.  Up until then, it was just the couple trying to survive, and although some of the "scary" scenes were rather contrived -- a doll that moved and talked on its own, for instance; doesn't he know how overdone that sort of thing is? I found their story very compelling.

Until they decided their purpose was to save the children.  If they had just decided to do so, that would be one thing, but the main character decided she had been chosen to do so.  The whole thing smacked of moralizing, and went downhill from there.  Perhaps then I shouldn't have been surprised when, at the end, it turned out this was just another great flood, and the main characters were like Noah and the Ark, saving the children while the rest of humankind was killed for its sins. 

For one thing, changing it to that kind of a story (instead of an alien invasion) made it not sci-fi at all, as far as I was concerned.  What a disappointment!  But I also felt like a last-minute religious themed switcharoo like that was kind of a cop-out, an easy way to explain why everyone else died and the main characters got to live.

All in all, the book was a disappointment and not at all what was promised in the description -- bad writing where I wanted it to be good, religious themed where I wanted it to be real sci-fi, etc.  On the bright side, though, at least it didn't take me very long to get through it!