From Publishers Weekly
In 1975, the now defunct Laser Books issued Invasion
by Aaron Wolfe, aka Koontz (who later expanded that novel into Winter Moon
, 1994), a breakneck tale of alien invasion centered on an isolated farm. Koontz's new novel also concerns alien invasion, and a comparison of the two books offers insight into the evolution of this megaselling author's work. Invasion
was mostly speed and suspense—a brilliant if superficial exercise in terror. The new novel also features abundant suspense, as a couple in an isolated California home endure a phosphorescent rain and learn that, around the world, something
is attacking humans and laying waste to communications. It's only when they drive to a nearby town that they learn of a global alien invasion; the tension ratchets as a weird fog descends and the aliens not only manifest physically but animate the dead. For years, however, Koontz has aimed at more than just thrills; today he is a novelist of metaphysics and moral reflection. His aliens are inherently evil as well as scary; standing against them are the human capacity for hope and the forces of goodness and innocence (here, as elsewhere, embodied in dogs), and near novel's end Koontz puts an overtly religious spin on his tale. Koontz's language has changed over the years, too, and not always for the better. While his care with words engenders admiration, his love of metaphor and alliteration can slow down the reading ("the luminous nature of the torrents that tinseled the forest and silvered the ground"). Also missing here is the wonderful humor that elevated his last novel, Odd Thomas
, and some other recent work. Koontz remains one of the most fascinating of contemporary popular novelists, and this stands as an important effort, but not his best, though its sincerity and passion can't be denied.
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*Starred Review* A glowing rain begins falling at one a.m. in the San Bernardino Mountains of California, where productive but hardly best-selling novelist Molly Sloan and her ex-priest husband, Neil, live outside a small town. Besides being luminous, the downpour smells like rancid semen, Molly thinks, and it brings with it a feeling of oppression. Animals cower from it, as Molly grasps when she sees a pack of coyotes huddling on the porch. The little wolves seem to be appealing to her for help, and when she walks out to them, they seem to expect her to lead them. She goes to wake Neil, rescuing him from a nightmare, and to wash--no, scour--her hands where the rain hit them. The torrent continues, taking out the power, but then appliances come on spontaneously, and the hands of clocks run wildly in opposite directions. The Sloans conclude they must leave after an interior mirror reflects the house as invaded by ghastly vegetation--but doesn't reflect them at all. Opening sequences come no creepier than this one, and the rest of Koontz's version of the extraterrestrial attack scenario so well lives up to it that the revelation, painstakingly apprehended by Molly, of who the aliens really are comes as no surprise. Nor do Koontz's authorial insertions about modernity and social degeneracy seem anything but explanatory in the context of this gripping, blood-curdling, thought-provoking parable. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved