For this In My Opinion review I’ll be highlighting a book you should stay away from, unless you have copious amounts of time on your hands and a passion for the inexplicably weird. Try not to get creeped out, this week I’m talking about False Memory by Dean Koontz.
Published in 1999, this book’s issue isn’t that it was written a while ago, it’s that the writing is simply not well done. Dean Kootz is often referred to as Stephen King’s underling. Dean Kootz can certainly create some chills and scares, but Stephen King will pretty much always do it better. Stephen King has even said that if you can’t find any of his books, you can always settle for a Kootz novel and come close to King’s sense of horror. Dean Kootz is still a prolific and experienced author despite always coming in second to King; you’ll find him all over any library you go to. But, do me a favor and do some research before picking up one of his novels. Like this one. Read some reviews first before jumping head first into his books, because some of them, like False Memory, are ones you should avoid.
PLOT: False Memory is about a couple, Marty and Dusty Rhodes, who watch as people around them are struck with phobias and mental disorders over night before they too suddenly find their own minds and memories distrustful. After discovering that someone is using immense knowledge of the human brain to program and brain wash people for missions and experiments and their own personal pleasure, the couple teams up with some unexpected friends to stop the purely evil bad guy. Pretty interesting plot, right? Unreliable narrators always make for good suspense and mystery. But just about everything else about this novel is what brings it down. The incredibly lengthy metaphors, the ridiculous alliteration, and the show-off style of writing made me cringe on almost every page. Yes, Kootz seems to be good at prose and literature, but he takes every opportunity he can in the novel to show you that. It gets stuffy and boring after a while and the reader can honestly skip huge swaths of the story because there isn’t anything of substance in it. Strongly disappointing.
CHARACTERS: The characters were pretty good; rounded, broken, passionate, and strong in all the right areas… once you got to the halfway point. The first half of the novel the characters feel very rigid and similar in their responses and attitudes. Each character seemed like it was actually Dean Kootz acting like the character, instead of it feeling like an actual person in the story.
SETTING: This is where the book really tanked. Kootz takes as long as possible to set up a scene and give descriptions, then makes the descriptions entire paragraphs that can easily be skipped. Again, he writes pretty well and uses alliteration and other writing skills well, but he also uses them WAY TOO MUCH and takes away from the plot, the characters, the suspense, the mystery– everything! And one thing I really dislike is the repetition in Kootz’s novels. King does it as well, but Kootz seems to have a harder time at it. What I mean is this: Kootz lives in California. Therefore, all of his novels take place in California. Kootz has a golden retriever. Therefore, in all of his novels there is a golden retriever character. There are other similarities, and with each one I read I got more and more disappointed in the novel.
VERDICT: Meh. In my opinion the novel was suitably creepy at some points, and in the middle when the bad guy is revealed and the protagonists are struggling to overcome him it’s a fast paced read. But most of the novel is not good writing mixed with more not good writing. I’d say pass on this novel, unless you’re a huge Kootz fan or have nothing else to do with your life. There are many other books out there better than this. Or at least, that’s my opinion.