Dean Koontz – Breathless: Book Review

breathless dean koontz      I USUALLY LEAVE book reviews alone but felt compelled to post about Breathless, Dean Koontzs’ ‘thriller’. In a nut shell, Grady who lives in the countryside, discovers some magical animals in the woods and before long Homeland Security descends after some pictures are circulated online.

Koontz has sold millions of books and has a huge following – rarely a measure of actual writing talent. I was looking for one of his horror books but the library had only three titles and this one seemed to have the best blurb.

The first hundred pages are an absolute mess, as if the editor never bothered to even read it. Lots of stuttering sentences that killed the rhythm and completely useless run-on sentences spelling things out, the narration had the feel of a book aimed at twelve year olds, seemingly going for a how-to-foreshadow award.

Page 69 held this gem:

“His hands trembled, stomach acid scalded the back of his throat, and his bowels felt loose. But he neither vomited nor soiled his pants.

In such a pressurised situation, with everything at risk, not losing control of bodily functions seemed to be a triumph. Henry gained confidence from the fact that his underwear remained dry.”

Plenty new characters were introduced and it seemed like everything was going to come together in a grand finale. I’ll give Koontz his due that despite the lack of a coherent plot, turning the pages was easy and the quality of writing as well as dialogue improved in the second half.

Then there’s the section that essentially debunks evolution through the character of ‘Chaos’ Woolsey, a maestro of mathematics and chaos theory…

The story just didn’t go anywhere after the initial cast of characters were introduced. I didn’t care for them, too many utterly pointless sub-plots that made no sense and lead nowhere. And new characters were introduced later on that served no function to the main story.

There weren’t even loose threads, just a ball of twisted tangled twine. How the book made it to market in its current form is bemusing. And it’s an ‘international bestseller’…

There are flashes of Koontzs’ quality writing but never enough to keep the storyline fed, and the ending was incredibly unsatisfying. Nothing was explained, and on reflection it reads like a thinly masked religious faith story.

Verdict: Shake of the head

lion around 2

28 Comments

  1. Like Stephen King, I don’t consider Dean Koontz’s later work his best. If you haven read much of his work, Lion, go back to his earlier books. Twilight Eyes, From the Corner of His Eye, Watchers (a movie was made from this that totally sucked), Demon Seed (also made into a movie), Intensity (which was made Into a pretty good TV miniseries), and pretty much any of his work prior to the last ten to fifteen years. I haven’t read Breathless, and after reading your review, will probably give it a pass.

    1. Yeah I’ve been reading that, seems like the seventies and eighties, even early nineties was both their high points, so I’m going to be more selective next time I pick a book by either. I got Cell as well but I’m gonna pass on it and get a King classic.

      1. Cell was okay. It certainly beats out a lot of his later work. The last great book of King’s I read was Doctor Sleep. It’s a sequel to The Shining, which was one of his great ones.

  2. I have often wondered about the editing process with Koontz books. I have enjoyed some of his stuff, but I’ve also read books where he takes 3-5 pages to describe a tree. It’s a tree. Give your readers some credit.

  3. Hi Lion, You´re right on this one – sadly 😦 I read Breathless a couple of years ago and was also quite disappointed by it. But usually he writes so much better! If you haven´t read anything else by him, I can only recommend “Ashley Bell” or “The City” or any novel of the 90s. These are really great!
    I started with “Pet Sematary” this weekend by the way – it´s sooo good;)

  4. I was planning to pick up a book by the author, but now I guess I should keep focused on my already piled up reading list! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Lion! 😄

    1. Hi Syeda! No, please…give it a go – Koontz normally is a fantastic author, although I´ve to agree with Lion on this one, it actually isn´t one of his best. Especially his early works are great and his latest “Ashley Bell” really – really! – was absolute terrific!

      1. Yes, I was reading the other’s comments to check out one to read soon.
        Today I read one by James Patterson (from Alex Cross series) 🙂

      2. Well, I kind of enjoyed it as a quick, suspense and thriller read. Though I feel, his stories starts amazingly but end in a rush. It’s a series, with detective Alex Cross as the protagonist. 🙂

      3. Yeah I heard of them, but I’m suspicious of Patterson’s books, lots of bad rumours around him and heard the books are much like you describe. Having said I’ll probably read one just to see for myself 🙂

      4. Oh my! That´s a good question! There are so many that I like! His latest “Ashley Bell” really is excellent, as is “Dark Rivers of the Heart” or “Midnight”. His “Odd”-series is pretty awesome too, the first of this is “Odd Thomas”. He really is a fantastic author, whom I adore!! 😀

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