Book Review: The City

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Author: Dean Koontz
ISBN: 978-0-7322-9842-5
RRP: $29.99

The City has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year now. It was a gift, one that I specifically requested because Koontz is an all time favourite of mine, and with all the review books coming across my desk it just kept being passed over. I finally decided I needed to take a trip back to my reading roots so thought my family holiday would be the perfect time. Of course, I didn’t get to it on the holiday but was reading it before I made it home.

I’m not sure if it’s just the absolute chaos of my life over the last couple of weeks (well months really but definitely since starting the book) but it seemed to take an awfully long time to read.

The City resonates with the signature Konntz style of picturesque prose that flows across the page seamlessly, I can’t fault the style. What I didn’t feel with this one is that gripping suspense that kept me turning pages. The story has that otherworldly element that tells of something more than what we see in the universe. A sense of other forces at play which I quite enjoy.

My issues with the book are that it was a very slow build and there wasn’t a lot of action. The story is told by Jonah Kirk, an older man, as he speaks his life into a recorder to later be turned into a book – the book we ended up reading one can only surmise. This method of story telling can be quite effective because you are deep into the head of your main character but it also leads to quite a fluid timeline.

I found it very hard to completely immerse myself in this story, which is disappointing because Koontz was long my escape of choice. I enjoyed the story-line and the characters but it all unfolded a little too slowly to really capture me.

the city

Our storyteller is Jonah Kirk, who begins his story as an eight year old boy with almost as many names as years. I get the impression that he was articulate and wise beyond his years even as an eight year old though he is telling the story as a much older man whose life has seen many changes since that time.

Jonah comes from a family of musicians and it is soon apparent that he has inherited the gene, with some mad skills tickling the ivories. Music plays a large part in the narrative, even though it isn’t central to the suspenseful storyline.

Prophetic dreams come to Jonah on a number of occasions in his young life, dreams that start him on the path to a very different future. We are reminded, more than once, that the future is not set and you can control your fate with the choices you make. So even if you are visited by a prophetic dream it will only come to pass if none of the events leading up to it change, and the smallest decisions can still lead to the biggest decisions.

Koontz deftly weaves some interesting twists that I didn’t see coming until the very end which threw characters into a completely different light.

The strands of this story come together to form a cohesive and interesting tale which I enjoyed though the pacing didn’t keep me captivated and I still can’t be sure that doesn’t say more about my life than the story.

The City is a story of race, revolution, family, music and the secrets that snowball. It is interesting that Koontz personifies The City as a thinking and feeling entity because it has often been said that cities are living organisms. Definitely worth a read.

Dean Koontz can be found on Facebook, Twitter and his Website.

The City is available now through HarperCollins Australia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

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