Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A horror story morphs into a screwball comedy, August 28, 2007
This review is from: Tick Tock (Mass Market Paperback)
Tommy Phan is a Vietnamese-American who, much to the dismay of his very traditional family, likes to stress the American. Instead of going into the family business, Tommy earns his living as a novelist. His series character, Chip Nguyen (star of such memorable epics as Murder is Bad Habit), has become very popular, allowing Tommy to afford some of the finer things in life, like the aqua Corvette he purchases as the story opens. Tommy, who has lusted for such a car since the day he arrived in America, knows he should be ecstatic, but can't shake the feeling of foreboding that descends on him at the auto dealership.

Almost immediately upon his return home, the doorbell rings. Tommy answers the door, and finds a rag doll lying on his doorstep. At first, he is concerned the doll may be some kind of warning from a local gang, angry with him for writing a series of unfavorable articles a few months earlier. That concern is short lived, however, as something (Tommy later dubs it the "doll snake rat-quick little monster thing") starts to emerge from the doll and attacks him.

Tommy fends off the creature and abandons his home, but not before two mysterious messages abruptly appear on his computer screen--THE DEADLINE IS DAWN and TICK TOCK. Driving away, he concludes he is safe, but then the Corvette shudders, and he realizes the creature is in his car. He crashes, and flees on foot, pursued by the monster, who is growing at an alarming rate. He flags down a ride, and, in weird coincidence, is picked up by the aptly named Deliverance Payne, a flirtatious waitress he met earlier that day.

Here, the novel takes a humorous turn. By introducing Del, Koontz adds a decidedly comic element to this previously grim story. Level headed and witty, Del pokes fun at Tommy's foibles even while they fight for their lives--she calmly accepts his bizarre story and offers her help. Taking the mysterious messages at face value, they seek to outwit the monster until dawn. Together, they fend off several more attacks, eventually discerning the monster's incredible (and funny) secret.

Tick Tock reminds me of Quentin Tarantino and Roberto Rodriguez's cinematic collaboration From Dusk 'til Dawn. There, a crime drama morphs into a horror movie. In Tick Tock, a horror story becomes a screwball comedy. This approach, which ruined the movie, works very well in the novel. Although Koontz appears to abruptly switch gears, he carefully seeds the initial portion of the book with humor, setting the stage for the enjoyable farce it becomes.

Koontz, succeeding in his stated goal to write something "lighter," doesn't cheat long time fans. The first third of the book is reminiscent of Richard Matheson's short stories "Prey" and "Duel," but thereafter becomes an altogether different book, reminiscent of Thorne Smith's work, as it's solid, stolid hero is swept off his feet by a larger than life heroine. Koontz deftly handles both aspects, interweaving them to great advantage. Part of this book's magic is that the monster remains a credible menace throughout, even when the humorous elements kick into overdrive. Koontz keeps tensions high, in spite of the odd goings on and increasingly humorous dialogue.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 29, 2007 11:40:36 AM PDT
This is a good review and should encourage anyone with a sense of humor to read the book.
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