James Knows…Books: Phantoms by Dean Koontz
I’ve always heard that Dean Koontz was like a poor man’s Stephen King. He writes scary books that you pick up when you can’t find a good King book. I’ve never read a Koontz book before but I had a few so I dived in with Phantoms. I knew nothing about the book aside from the fact that it was made into a crappy movie starring Ben Affleck (“He was the bomb in Phantoms, Yo!”).
The book takes a look at a small town in northern California. Our main characters, sisters Jenny and Lisa enter the town and find it deserted. Further investigation finds several odd dead bodies. The authorities and special units are called in and we find there’s some ancient creature at work here. Picture a gooey version of Plastic Man…but evil. Now this rag tag group of local cops, a doctor, a teenager, an author and a slew of military men must face this ball of slime to the death!
Sounds…almost interesting, right? Well, it is. Phantoms has a great build up. We’re talking really creepy details about the bodies that are found and this strange sense of uneasiness like something is lurking within the shadows ready to jump out at you at any moment. This suspense builds and builds and I was generally scared throughout certain passages. Unfortunately this doesn’t hold until the end. The scare factor that was carefully constructed throughout the entire book is destroyed during the final third of it. It basically turns into the closing scenes from Ghostbusters 2 complete with goo squirtin’ backpacks and comes out with a sort of happy ending with everything wrapped up in a neat little bow.
BO-RING. You had a good thing going here, Koontz. Then your story just sort of lost it’s balls. I’d say this would rate as a Skip It. If you must read it, just stop around when the special biological warfare unit starts doing their thing and make up your own ending. It’ll probably be a lot cooler.