What started as a buddy read involving Stepheny, Dan 2.0, Delee, Kells. and Shelbs, soon descended into organized Koontz-shaming. Our seemingly harmless group excursion into one of Dean Koontz’s best books became a game of Who Can Take the Hottest Squat On E.’s Childhood? That’s fine, though, because Kells’s and Shelbs’s brains have been rotted by reading too much porn, and we all know that Dan 2.0 suffers from Ridiculous Disease, a disease that confuses fiction with real life and makes its sufferers believe that insane shit cannot happen in or around make-believe stories, unless that fiction is Harry Potter, who obviously gets a pass because wizards are the shit, yo.
I like each of the people listed above, even if they read almost everything wrong, because opinions are like Cheetos. Everybody wants to have them but no one wants to be seen with dirty hands. But Shelbs, Kells, and Dan 2.0 eat Cheetos with wild abandon, and have no problem wiping their neon-orange dusted fingers down the fronts of everything you hold dear. Seriously, you guys rock. I wouldn’t change you for the world.
Needless to say, this book is awesome. It also sucks a load of donkey penis. While reading, you’re likely to have a great time. It’s only when you’ve completed this book and start another Koontz book that you realize that something has gone terribly wrong. Once you put down your second Koontz book and pick up your third, you begin shaking with terror because that feeling of unease has become sheer unadulterated terror. You throw the third book out the window and shriek after it, “Never again!” But then you pick up a fourth… and a fifth… and Tom fucking Cruise on a hydraulic crutch, you’ve finally realized what’s happened. Dean Koontz is a fucking hack who repeats himself in every book!
And Watchers is the book that started it all.
For those of you who do not know, the film version of Watchers was the first successful Koontz adaptation. Never mind that the world-weary Travis was played by the barely pubescent Corey Haim (who would later sell his teeth on eBay and die of a drug overdose but once had a thriving career), the film was an overall success because dogs and government-trained killers and monsters are rad! Everybody but Koontz fans liked the movie. The movie dropped a muddy deuce all over the source material, but Koontz made a few bucks. He’s been trying to recreate the magic ever since. And then Koontz’s Golden retriever, Trixie, died, and the poor bastard lost his fucking mind. After the death of his beloved pooch, every koontz book was about a super-smart doggie sidekick, a government-trained killer, or a monster. Sometimes all three happened. Sometimes only one of those things happened. Eventually Koontz found Odd Thomas and most Koontz fans rejoiced because, while the book was an obvious cash-grab based on the success of The Sixth Sense, it was original in comparison to the other bullshit Koontz had been dropping on fans from his throne on high. Odd would eventually shit the bed too, but we’re not here for that. We’re here to discuss Watchers, the best and worst thing Koontz ever did with his career.
I would hazard a guess and say that Watchers is the last original thing Koontz wrote. It is the end of the road when it comes to his imagination. Every book published after it can be found earlier in his career under a different title. While the character names and plots change slightly, Koontz only has ten templates with which to work. After you read more than five close together, you start to see the pattern that has made him a bestselling author. Because casual readers like the same old shit over and over again. It’s comforting to know that Koontz will always deliver one of ten kinds of stories and that it will always be readable. He’s the literary equivalent of a Marie Callender’s pot pie. Each box contains a different meat, but the same old broth and veg baked into the same old crust. Nothing wrong with it, but you will get tired of it if you eat it every night.
A piece of my childhood that’s withstood the test of time. I like it. I like it a lot. But I also know that it’s kinda like saying you liked Hitler in 1936. You know, before he became Hitler-Hitler. People change. Dean Koontz is not Hitler, of course, but he’s strayed far from the writer I once wanted to emulate. Somewhere along the way, he abandoned his imagination and succumbed to financial success. More power to him.