So I’ve clearly fallen off the wagon of “write something about every book I read,” but I feel like this one requires a small brain dump.

For a little backstory, when I was first getting into actual literature, I couldn’t get enough Stephen King books. This was middle-school era, sometime around 1993. When one of the women I bowled with found out, she highly recommended that I try Dean Koontz. I picked up a few on her recommendation and I loved them. They actually helped me get through some pretty rough times, so I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for his works. However, as my tastes evolved, I moved on to different genres and authors. I haven’t read anything of his in years, but I one leftover book has been sitting on my to-read pile for literally fifteen years. Something in my head thought it would be a good diversion from some of the more serious literature I’ve been reading as of late (Khaled Hosseini’s works, some old classics, etc.), so I decided to finally pick up Icebound.

Icebound is one of Koontz’s earliest works (originally published in 1976 under a pen name), and while reading it I was really trying to keep that in mind. He tells a decent story if you’re looking at it from the entertainment perspective, but good lord, it feels like amateur hour in terms of language and structure. It left me wondering if all of his books are written this way and my middle-school self just didn’t notice it, or if it really is because of how early in his career it was written. Every character was introduced by name, then immediately and ham-handedly described. No character development was ever left to subtext, or even basic observation. It completely failed at the concept of show, don’t tell.

The plot was supposed to be tense, but instead it felt like a soap opera and an action movie got together and had an awkward lovechild. The story was basically enjoyable, but it just radiated melodramatic camp. There’s the son (or grandson?) of an assassinated president who hates the corrupt world of politics and goes off to seek his thrills, the brilliant and gorgeous female scientist with a fear of ice (…on the Greenland ice sheet…) along with her German ex-lover and her current quietly heroic husband, the stoic Russian who is driven by the guilt of his lost child, the black football player turned multi-degree research scientist, and more. Some of these characters might be compelling if they were allowed to develop into actual characters, but the way their biographies are just dumped on the reader feels like a “Previously, on Days of Our Lives” voiceover. Others, well, there’s only so much suspension of disbelief.

I’m half-tempted to go back and reread some of his older works to see if they’re as ridiculous as this one, but I already have dozens of books left on my to-read pile. Maybe in another fifteen years.

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