Watchers -- Book #2

Title: Watchers
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Pages: Hardback, 406
Published: 1987
First line: "On his thirty-sixth birthday, May 18, Travis Cornell rose at five o'clock in the morning."
"Out of a government laboratory so sinister and secret that its very name cannot be whispered and into the lives of certain good and evil people come two escaped creatures, one murderous and one benign and both 'changed, changes utterly' from the ordinary animals they once were. To scientists who fashioned them they are the end products of genetic engineering and enhanced intelligence and they want them back. To the people who encounter them they spell either doom or touching new kind of love. At the climax of this heart-stopping novel they will inevitably meet." Jack Copy


Thoughts (will contain SPOILERS): This book is hard to review. There are so many different concepts and issues that Koontz tackles. However, I'm not sure he is aware of some of the problems the book causes instead of finding a solution.

The book starts out with Travis Cornell wandering into Orange county hiking trails with his gun. It appear as though, given his mindset, it appears as though he is going to attempt to kill himself. However, Koontz tells us that he is trying to reclaim his childhood by shooting rattle snakes. During this outing, he meets Einstein, the genetically altered Golden Retriever. After saving Travis from The Outsider, Einstein worms his way into Travis' life. From there, it follows the adventures of Travis, Nora Devon (his new wife), The Outsider, an NSA agent, and a mafia hit man.

After the escape of Einstein and The Outsider, the NSA is brought in to recover the animals and bring them back. After learning of Einstein's history, Travis and Nora are no inclined to give the dog back. Their argument is based on the dog's intelligence.

"Was it blasphemous to think Einstein had a soul? No. She did not think blasphemy entered into it. Man had made the dog; however, if there was a God, He obviously approved of Einstein -- not least of all because Einstein's ability to differentiate right from wrong, his ability to love, his courage, and his selflessness made him closer to the image of God than were many human beings who walked the earth." --page 365

Why does intelligence equal freedom? Just because Einstein is smart does not mean that he deserves more or less than other living things. To me, every dog deserves to sit on the couch between their people and watch TV. Just because the animal is not "intelligent" does it still make it okay to poke and prod them? *shrug* Also, why does "intelligence" equal a soul? Or the ability to love? Being a pet owner, it is hard to reconcile this issue.

Even before the Prodigal Son series, Koontz tackles Frankenstein and his creation. The Outsider is the perfect archetype for the Creature. The Outsider is a mish-mash of different animals designed to be a fighting and killing machine. Knowing that Einstein is "loved" more than he is, his main goal is to kill the dog. However, even with his desire, he knows what he is -- a patchwork of creatures who cannot be loved. He has been genetically programed to want to kill; however, upon finding his lair, the reader learns that The Outsider is ashamed of his nature. Sadly, it is also aware of its frightful and horrid appearance. It removed the yes of its victims, so it could not be seen. It even admitted during an interview session in the labs that he would like to tear out his own eyes. Like the creature, he is dejecting by his creator and left to fend for itself. (Without getting into the ethical issues, The Outsider cannot more beyond his genetic programming. With the Creature, however, he is conscious of his decisions and the consequences.)

". . . The Outsider was at the back of the barn, beyond the front end of the Toyota, crouched on the concrete of the barn, whimpering and hugging itself with both long, powerful arms. The floor around it was smeared with its blood.

". . . He (Travis) could see the body structure of an ape, maybe a baboon -- something in the simian family, anyway. But it was neither mostly one species nor merely a patchwork of recognizable parts of many animals. It was, instead, a thing unto itself. With it's oversized and lumpish face, immense yellow eyes, steam-shovel jaw, and long curved teeth, with its hunched back and matted coat and too-long arms, it attained a frightful individuality." --page 396


In addition, Vince's character seemed a little trivial. He presented another obstacle for Travis, Nora, and Einstein to deal with; however, once the book comes to an end, he seems unimportant. Several times it is mentioned that Vince can absorb the life energy of his victims. He also thinks that, with enough energy, he will become immortal. While this is interesting, Koontz didn't spend enough time on him. In a few sentences, from the character himself, the reader is vaguely and briefly told Vince's explanation. Koontz built him up, but after the climax, it just fizzled out. It would have been better to take him out of the picture, or make him a little more peripheral character.

Aside from these issue, I enjoyed the book. Last night I stayed up crying over Einstein's battle with distemper. After watching man loved family dogs die, I cannot watch movies like Old Yeller or read Marley and Me. The fact that Koontz could illicit this type of response in me shows that he is a talented author.

Rating: 5/5
Currently: Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz
Horror/Urban Fantasy Challenge: 2/24


Sinn

2 comments:

  1. This was a great book- I remember I read it a while back along with Koontz's Servants Of Twilight and Phantoms. One of my favorites, and your review style is awesome!

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  2. I actually followed a link from one of my subscribers to find you and I'm so glad I did. Great blog. I like the honesty in your reviews. Would you be willing to review Ravena & The Resurrected (urban vampire novel) with the same honestly?

    If so ... I'm going on a blog tour in February-March and I still have a few slots in March to fill where I visit blogs. If you'd like to participate just say so.

    Also ... if you'd like a free electronic copy of R&R ($9.99 value) I can get it to you just for the courtesy of you writing a book review. Sample chapters are at: http://tinyurl.com/4dbt7bl. If you like what you see ... send me an email!

    We'll talk about whether you want me to make an author visit or whether you're only wanting to review the book.

    Author: Tami Jackson
    Publisher: SunTigerMOJO.com
    Book blog: VampireReview.blogspot.com
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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.