An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
This one was an interesting one. I'm very glad I decided to read it. It was creepy and really sucked me into the world it was creating. It wasn't perfect though. In fact, I was a little surprised by some of the complaints I had, just because I wasn't expecting to have them. But I'll get onto that later.
Let's start with the things I like. First and foremost, the scares. The atmosphere was set up in such a way that it was easy to feel unnerved and frightened by some of the images and situations in the book. A lot of it pried on fears I myself had. I've mentioned before that aliens scare me, which they do. I also have a fear of the Silent Hill-esque fates many of the town people met. Loosing my face, for example. Yeah, that really creeps me out. Or this wonderful little gem:
"As she finished freeing Allison, Molly heard a wet, decidedly organic sound and looked up as the skin on a round, cantaloupe-size fungus in the overhead colony peeled back like the lids of an eyeball. Under those membranes lay a human face. "
No. Just no.
Fear of course is incredibly personal and varies from person to person. So if you don't share those fears, then this book might not scare you. If you are like me, though, then I hope your neighbors are not as loud as mine. 'Cause let me tell you, it is SUPER fun to hear a banging upstairs when reading about a living fungus.
The characters themselves were all interesting and I enjoy following them. I think I would have liked more perspectives of the event, rather than just Molly's, but that would have just added to the experience rather than it being something that is lacking. I know people hate this term, but I did find Molly a little Mary Sue-ish. There were points where I was like, "Of course you would know/do that". She wasn't a bad character though. I found her endearing and not at all annoying. She was just a little Sue-ish. Just a tad. One door that wouldn't open for her would have been nice. That's all.
The story itself was also a good one. Koontz wrote it in a way that kept me reading, as can probably be noted by how quickly I finished this one. It had momentum and for the most part it maintained that momentum. Other books, don't have that. For example, as much as I enjoyed The Shining, there were sections that I found very difficult to trudge through. Very few parts of The Taking felt like that. A little bit in the beginning and maybe towards the end but after that it was all fairly well paced.
Okay, now for the stuff I didn't like, 'cause man I love to complain.
The one thing I didn't like about the plot was that once the search for the children began, the story went from being this thrilling fight for survival to *Bill Hader voice* a walkabout.
The images were creepy as hell and the bug thing in the church was really creepy, but after a point all the stakes were lost. It kind of became clear that Molly and Neil and the children were all gonna live. Maybe I knew that because I looked at the last page, a bad habit of mine. I don't know. I just would have liked less of "Lewis Carroll meets H.P. Lovecraft", as the book put it, and more actual danger. The back page summary made it sound like something would be actively hunting them, when really that wasn't the case. The terror is more in the psychological horror in one they see, which is fine. It's just not what was promised.
The resolution also felt too easy to me. Like, tada! Aliens are gone, everything's back to normal, resume your lives! It had a concrete ending, which I liked, I just wish that ending was more well earned. It kind of felt like a copout to me, which disappointed me. I don't claim to be an expert on Koontz since I haven't read all of his stuff, but his endings usually feel more well-earned than this.
Similarly, the nature of the "aliens" and their mission bummed me out. Overall this book had an overwhelming Catholic vibe to it. I know Koontz is a devout Catholic and I myself am sorta Catholic (it's a weird situation I don't really worry about), and normally I don't mind religious tones in stories. Some of his, like the one that takes place in a blizzard that I'm blanking on the name of, have religious undertones and it's a part of the story and resolution, but it's more like an added spice rather than a major flavor. It was a much more major flavor in this book, and that kinda irritated me after a point. Like, screw the guardian angel part and just show me someone being dissected! It's a taste thing I guess.
Finally, the writing style of this one felt cheap. It was much more flowery than what I expected and there was a lot of almost empty prose. I swear, certain sections felt like he was trying to meet a word limit. I wonder if he wrote this one just to write a book and get a paycheck. There's not shame in it, that's just sort of how it read. There was less passion and substance to it.
So here's my final verdict: It is a very good book if you're looking to be entertained and scared. I think it could be compared to a cotton candy read. I will read it again if I had the chance because I definitely enjoyed it. Maybe not spend money on it, but if the library has it again I'll give it a go. What the hell, I like being scared.
Final rating: 3.5 out of 5