Tommy Phan faces the predicament of never being able to be the person he wants to be while still being the kind of man his family respects. When all the logic and reason he thought the world operated on proves faulty he must run for his life. When Tommy may only have a few terrifying hours left to live he finds himself regretting choosing cheeseburgers over com tay com.
Tommy is a character torn between honoring is heritage and conservative Vietnamese mother and living on his terms as an American. At the opening of the book, Tommy feels like the two poles of his identity can never mix and he must sacrifice one to wholly be the other. Through the book, he discovers he need not live as a splintered fragment.
Koontz writes some of the best female characters. Del is a gun-slinging artist with some psychic abilities and talent for talking in riddles. Mrs. Phan values obedience and conformity to tradition in her children and possesses stone solid stubbornness. When the two mix to save Tommy from a madman in a raincoat they make a catalyst for Tommy to mend his identity.
Contrary to the connotations of the cover art, I would say this in an equal mix of comedy and thriller. The dialogue is witty. The story is full of irony an the situations are constructed in an amusing fashion.
The book gets bonus points for having a dog as the main character. I love Scootie. A dog with more than dog intelligence makes every situation silly and snugly.
Dean Koontz is a long time favorite author of mine because he isn’t satisfied with inane word choice. I occasionally need to google definitions but the vivid mental images elicited by specific, descriptive word choice distinguishes extraordinary authors from novices.
I do not love supernatural elements. I am the demographic that prefers based in reality peril. With all the quirkiness and comedy nothing but an unnatural resilient and strong would highlight Del as well. At given points in the story the supernatural elements seemed strange but at the conclusion, I see how well it blended Tommy’s love story, culture crisis, and night hunted by a monstrosity together. I think it was purposeful and creative. Also, I think keeping the action out of the realm of possibility keeps the story light and complementary to the strong comedy element. This is one of the few supernatural books I enjoyed immensely.
For craftsmanship, this is a ten out of ten. The story is a nine out ten but the reader’s preference for supernatural elements could make or break his/her appreciation for this book.