Book Reviews

Book Review: Tick Tock by Dean Koontz – It Started So Good…

Dean Koontz is an author that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with over the years.  When he’s good, there’s hardly anyone better.  Novels such as Lightning, Intensity, and Dark Rivers of the Heart were superb.  Many others left me frustrated and wanting to throw the book against the nearest wall when I finished it.  I’ve had to overcome that now that I read on a Kindle Fire.  Still, at the end of Tick Tock I had the same inclination to throw something.  Why do I torture myself in this way?

Tommy Phan is a Vietnamese immigrant who arrived on American shores as a young child and immediately embraced everything American, including changing his name.  This has frustrated his very traditional family, who expected him to be a part of their bakery rather than becoming a journalist who began writing clichéd detective novels.  Instead of going to his parent’s home for a traditional Vietnamese dinner, Tommy chooses to gorge himself on cheeseburgers, fries & a milkshake in defiance of his heritage.

Tommy just bought a Corvette and is delighting in driving around in it, while getting the feeling that something just isn’t right.  It’s a dark and stormy night when he arrives home to find a strange doll sitting on his front step.  Tommy brings it inside and it begins to morph into something else, something strangely intent on killing him.

The night becomes a game of cat and mouse, with the doll-creature having until dawn to kill Tommy.  Along the way, he meets up with a flighty waitress, Del, who has much more going for her than meets the eye as the two try to survive together.

The original premise was so good, really.  I liked the idea of a strange doll appearing on Tommy’s doorstep.  It had a mystery to it of who actually put it there that Tommy had to figure out in addition to trying just to survive. The first half or so of the book was actually pretty good.  Where it descends into the absurd is when Del enters the picture.  At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but her whole character is an example of just everything I’ve found frustrating about many Koontz novels.  I don’t want to give everything away, but suffice it to say she’s more than just a waitress in the diner where Tommy gorged himself earlier that evening.  Any time they find themselves in need of something to escape from the mysterious being that’s trying to kill Tommy, she seems to be able to produce it.  And yes, she’s got one of those dogs with above-average intelligence and human-like characteristics that Koontz likes to pepper his novels with.

The second problem also has to do with Del.  During the course of the pursuit, Del and Tommy steal several cars.  Del says she’ll “make it right”.  This happens throughout the story where material things will be replaced to “make it right”.  However, three men are killed who are in no way related to what happened.  One is a good Samaritan who stops to help Tommy when he wrecks the Corvette. How can you “make it right” for him and his family? Or doesn’t it matter that three men died, that three men won’t be coming back to their families? It seems like we are supposed to think that it’s okay that they can make up for the material losses but ignore the human losses.

Then there’s the ending.  I have no issue with the resolution with the creature that’s been pursuing Tommy and Del. The issue I have is really with their entire storyline and the character of Del.  Koontz just descends into a scenario so completely absurd with her character that it negates all that was good about the book to begin with.  If you’ve read other Koontz books, none of what happens will really surprise you, but the ridiculousness of it all is frustrating.

I know, I know, I should know better myself by now, but I was waiting for other books to become available from the library on my Kindle Fire so I took a chance on Tick Tock.  As with the majority of other stand-alone Koontz books I’ve read in more recent years, I felt as if my time would have been better spent doing just about anything else.  It’s frustrating to invest yourself in half of a book that actually seems pretty good only to have the ending go so completely absurd and ridiculous you wish you hadn’t bothered to pick it up in the first place.

2 replies »

    • Oh just wait. I’m reading one of his more recent that was on Kindle Unlimited and it’s so bad it will be the last Koontz book I read. Have to get the rest I wrote for Epinions out first. Only one other old review, then I get to skewer him and swear him off forever.