I stopped by the library recently to grab a few novels and treat them as professional development materials to help me be a better writer. This first one I tackled was Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz. So buckle up for another edition of In My Opinion Reviews.
Dragon Tears was published in 1993, so it’s a little dated, but still a very good story. I’ve heard great things about Dean Koontz for a while now, as well as spying many of his novels on the shelves of book stores, but I’ve never read anything from him until now. His writing style is different than anyone I’ve read recently, which took me sometime to get used to. But by the end of the story, when the plot had picked up and there was a lot of action, his writing fit quite well. Dean writes sort of like Stephen King in that he adds a lot of description or narration that doesn’t need to be in the story. Many times it feels as if Dean can’t settle on just one way to show the reader something, so he has to use about five sentences to describe whatever it is. But those sentences could be substituted for one sentence with more precise vocabulary that isn’t abundant with commas. But I digress. On to the review!
PLOT: The story was great. Dean’s strange writing style aside, the story he told and the characters he told it with was very well done. The story follows several point of view characters, but the main two are Harry Lyon and Connie Gulliver, police who work in Laguna Beach, California. The novel starts out seemingly like any ordinary mystery or suspense novel about cops, but then quickly adds an element of fantasy and supernaturalness that I did not see coming. These cops, along with a few other characters, run into a strange guy who believes he is in the middle of transforming himself into a god. Not a good god either, but a god of death and destruction. He thinks this because he has some interesting powers that no one else does. Pyrokinesis, telekinesis, remote animation, manifestation, etc. In order to test his limits of godhood, this strange guy takes it upon himself to torture and torment as many people as he can before finally killing them. The next people on his list of victims to torture? Harry and Connie.
CHARACTERS: The people in this story were very written and had the perfect amount of realism to them. Plus, they are the definition of dynamic characters. Harry is normally this anal-retentive guy who does everything by the books. He finds peace in order, so he has a designated place for everything in his house to be organized, and his work space is just as categorized. But by the end of the novel, Harry has done a complete 180 and embraces chaos instead of order. After all that he goes through in the novel, he is a much different person by the end. Same with Connie. And honestly, I’ve been missing that in a lot of books lately; dynamic characters that actually grow or learn something throughout the story. I really liked the characterization Dean used. Spot on.
SETTING: The entire novel takes place in California, mostly in the city of Laguna Beach. Dean does a good job or laying out scenes and making sure the reader can picture the setting before going on. But sometimes Dean makes the reader picture the character’s surroundings a little too much and uses several paragraphs just to describe a single parking lot or something that is mundane and not important at all. He does a great job at the descriptions, I’m sure he’s proud of the way he writes, he just really overdoes it.
VERDICT: This novel isn’t for everyone. It’s dated, the inner monologues of some characters can be pretty twisted and dark at times, and it’s not a short read. But if you like good cop stories and have time to read about normal people confronting abnormal enemies, then In My Opinion you should check out this book. It’ll be in your mind for a while as you contemplate all that happens.