Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Intensity - Audio Book

Title/Author: Intensity by Dean Koontz. Read by Kate Burton.

Genre: Thriller.

Publisher: Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Chyna Shepard.

Favorite quote: (I couldn't write any down since I was driving when I was listening, but there are many beautiful descriptions.)

All in all: A lot of telling instead of showing, but a tense read filled with lovely language.

Synopsis:  Chyna Shepard, a psychology student, goes home with a friend for the weekend, but a killer breaks into the house.  Chyna manages to elude him, but then makes some tough choices as she follows him to try to save someone else's life. 

What I didn’t like: First I want to say that I am a huge fan of Dean Koontz. There are many books of his that I love (check out my Goodreads page). I didn’t like this one as much as his others, but I think it was because this was a thriller as opposed to a horror story or supernatural thriller.  There was also a large amount of telling and there were  a lot of details that were drawn out. I mean a LOT of details. Details about the set up of a room, details about incidents from the past, details about a herd of elk. I think if the details were cut, it would have shortened the story by 1/3. Endless pages were devoted to events that any other author would probably relay in a paragraph or a page or two.  So, there were some parts when I would zone out, but I came back to it quickly enough when the story returned to the present.   Also, there tended to be a lot of repetition of the killer's thoughts.  Okay, okay we get it...you like pain as much as pleasure!  But maybe this was deliberate to make the reader uncomfortable with his diabolical mind.  I also think it could have ended sooner although I liked hearing about the aftermath.

What I liked:   The writing is beautiful.  The descriptions read like poetry. I also loved the narrator’s voice.  Even mundane words sounded like music coming from her lips. She really added to the lovely language. I also liked the way when reading from the bad guys’ viewpoint and Chyna’s, she would pitch her voice differently making it clear whose POV it was without being over the top.  I've listened to a few audio books since this one and I feel this narration is superior.

Although the minute details of the main character's movements were plentiful, it did help to add to the tension. Usually too much description puts me over the edge.  Maybe I gave Koontz more slack because I like him.  However, as I kept listening I also wondered if Koontz was trying to paint a picture of human nature and how actions and consequences effect your life.  The smallest movement Chyna makes can put her in peril or save her and she has to make decisions in the blink of an eye. 

Chyna, a psychology major with a traumatic childhood is also a very interesting character. I didn’t like her at first, but as I got to know her, I warmed up to her.  Not because of her heroic actions, but because of her motives.  She has been trying to understand her estranged mother’s state of mind her whole life. Her childhood clearly shaped her and her choices, but it also becomes clear that she is looking for something that she didn’t get in her childhood:  Love.  Instead of trying to find it in others, she gives it, and in this way achieves her goal.

While trying to dissect the murderer I wonder if she is also trying to dissect her mother and perhaps herself.  Also, as I listened it became clear that this was a study into the mind of a killer. Edgeler Vess considers himself a “Homicidal Adventurer” and is more frightening than any boogyman, vampire or creature of the night and would do very well making a guest appearance on Criminal Minds. We have read about people like him. Psychologists have studied people like him.  There is no way to understand him and yet he becomes more believable, more terrifying as he is brought to life through his deeds, speech and thoughts.

I finished listening to this book last week, but I found myself thinking about this story a lot.  Although this wasn't the best book I have read and certainly not the best Dean Koontz I have read, it really stayed with me.     

I’m going to split up this rating because it was such a dichotomy of elements for me. 
4 out of 5 for story, characters and most of the writing. 
2 out of 5 for the unnecessary writing and the telling.
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