Dean Koontz is a veritable thriller factory. Looking at his catalogue of work, it seems he pumps out a novel every day just before breakfast. I came across a copy of The Taking lying around our house as books sometimes do. I opened it up, intending to sample a chapter or two, and ended up finishing the book in record time.
The Taking: The Plot
The action in The Taking centers around the small town of Black Lake, and a childless couple, Molly and Neil Sloan. Living an almost idyllic life together, the couple are overnight plunged into a waking nightmare as a luminescent, torrential rain begins to fall.
The plot moves rapidly from that point. The rain is affecting everything, and it becomes obvious that something larger is happening: you guessed it folks, alien invasion!
Koontz’s invasion of Earth is more of an infestation. It becomes apparent that the aliens are syphoning up vast tracts of the ocean, filtering it with all sorts of nasty alien spores and raining it back down on the planet. Better still, the kinky devils are putting something extra in the rain because Molly – our hero – notices that it has the qualities of semen. Ewwww.
Fearing for their fellow townsfolk, our intrepid heroes head into Black Lake to see who else is alive and find a town tearing itself apart. To cap it all, they discover that the alien spores are breeding all sorts of new life forms – weird fungi, scaly creatures and oppressive semi-organic spaceships that can seemingly penetrate your whole being.
Along the way, Molly and Neil meet hyper-intelligent canines with Lassie tendencies, and around the same time they decide that their mission must be to save the children. But they don’t have any children. No, they have to save all the poor little orphaned children in the town whose parents have been ‘beamed up’ and taken away.
I won’t spoil the rest of the book. You’ll just have to read The Taking to discover if Molly and Neil (and their children and dog) come out of the whole Armageddon unscathed.
My Take on The Taking
It started out soooo well. The Taking begins with the rainstorm that signals the start of the invasion. Dean Koontz carries the action swiftly through a series of surreal set pieces as Molly and Neil try to work out what the hell’s going on.
Those early parts of the book are grim and tense. I found myself drawn into the world of Black Lake as I read alone in our attic. The rain was beating on the window outside and for a moment I got an eerie feeling.
However, about halfway through, the book starts to lose credibility. Molly and Neil begin to act upon a series of bizarre hunches, and it’s hard to work out their motivation. I mean, one minute they’re discussing their options with the other townsfolk, the next they’re on a mission to rescue children with a bunch of suddenly-intelligent pooches.
At this point, the story gets sloppy and ends up an unimaginative mish-mash of Independence Day/War Of The Worlds meets Noah’s Ark. You can just about understand what Koontz is saying – that the world has spun out of control (morally) and needs to be reeled back in – but the finale of the book is just so damned twee that it falls flat on its face.
I can see the message Koontz is trying to impart in The Taking, but unfortunately the delivery in the latter chapters fails him.