At the end of this book, my overall feeling was: I should have known better.
I’ve had this uneven relationship with author Dean Koontz over the years. He’s written some of my favorite books, like Lightning and Intensity. On the other hand, he’s the author most likely to make me want to throw a book at the wall at the end of it. A few people said I’d like his Frankenstein series. I gave it a shot. The first book Prodigal Son, was pretty darn good. The second, City of Night, had some moments that made me twitchy, but overall I was still liking it enough to pick up the third, Dead and Alive.
And that’s where the train goes completely off the track, sails through the air, crashes and burns.
The characters from the first two novels are there, and you would have to read those two books to grasp what’s happening here. Why anyone would want to start with the book that’s the weakest of what was originally planned as a trilogy is beyond me anyway.
In modern-day New Orleans against the backdrop of an impending devastating hurricane, two detectives have stumbled on the lair of Victor Frankenstein, now calling himself Victor Helios. He’s a member of high society living a full, rich life. What no one before them seems to have grasped on to is that he has a secret plan for replacing all of humanity with his creations, and has been secretly doing that for some time.
His first creation, the Frankenstein monster now calling himself Deucalion, has returned to confront his creator and hopefully finally do what he failed to do before: put an end to Victor’s life and his reign of terror. He teams up with the two detectives, Michael and Carson, to try to stop him.
Part of the problem with Dead and Alive is there is too much focus on Victor’s creations and the fact that the genetic programming he’s built into them is falling down. Yes, I’m sure it’s a lot of fun to write and to go on these crazy, creative tangents, but it adds nothing to the story. Instead, since he has to have the heroes doing something, they spend more than half the book driving around in their cars and eating. Instead of the confrontation between Deucalion, Carson, and Michael on one side versus Victor and the dark army of his creation on the other, readers are treated to a series of absurd characters and scenarios that seem to get more and more outrageous at every turn.
Sometimes it seemed as if Koontz wrote himself into a corner and came up with an outrageous scenario to get him out of it. A perfect example is his explanation for why Carson and Michael go along with what Deucalion and other creations that are rebelling against Victor decide to do. Basically, they are standing in a garbage pit and there’s a garbage monster that somehow allows them to have zen moments of clarity where everything seems to be right if they go along with it. Yes, really, that is how they are convinced to go along with the plan of the mutant cousins of humanity.
If you haven’t started this series, I urge you not to. It just ends up the way so much of what Koontz has written over the last 20 years does. Just glad I didn’t throw my Kindle against the wall when I saw where this was going.
Previous book in the series (link): City of Night
Categories: Dean Koontz