Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review - Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Lost Souls

I'm not what you would call an avid Dean Koontz fan. I don't buy a book because it has his name on it. But I do recognize him as one of the best in his genre today. What Stephen King once had and long ago lost, Dean Koontz still masters -- he is one of today's best at character development, and he proves that again in the fourth installment of his rendition of the "Frankenstein" saga.

I won't rehash either Mary Shelley's original or Koontz's update here. You can search the site or use the Book Review links in the sidebar for my reviews on the three previous "Frankenstein" offerings from Koontz.

In this latest entry to what will surely become a classic in it's own right, Frankenstein's monster, now known as Deucalion, outlives his creator -- killed in an epic battle of good versus evil in New Orleans. But the evil of Doctor Frankenstein a.k.a. Victor Helios lives on in clone form and has moved on to a small backwoods Montana town where he hopes to carry on the work of his predecessor.

With a new method, new technology, and a slightly new vision, the all new Victor Immaculate (or Victor Laben, as he now calls himself) is picking off the town in bite-size chunks. Little does he know that his first creation, his fifth wife (also his own creation), and the New Orleans Police Detectives who shut him down two years earlier, are all hot on his trail and working hard to ensure his failure once again.

Koontz comes through reliably with another page-turner, but left me unsatisfied in several ways. First, not enough Victor and not enough of the Monster. How can you have a Frankenstein book that doesn't center on Frankenstein?

Second, while the whole premise of Frankenstein and his Monster still living 200 years later is made quite believable by Koontz in the first three volumes, somehow the idea of him living on in his clone just doesn't sell well.

Third -- and this one troubled me the most -- with roughly a hundred pages left in the book, it was clear that the ending was nowhere in sight. While the first three volumes all leave room for the story to continue, they also give a sense of closure. In Frankenstein: Lost Souls, there is no closure. The books ends just as the story is truly beginning, and a couple of pages past the ending we learn that we have to wait nearly a year to find out what happens next. I like a cliffhanger as much as the next guy, but this one is ridiculous.

Either way, I can still enthusiastically recommend this as highly as the prior three volumes, but only if you can wait another year to get the ending.


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