Scrolls Reviews – Relentless

Relentless by Dean Koontz (ISBN 978-0007267590)
 
I love Dean Koontz, I really do, but there comes a point in a relationship when 
things sour for a bit. And for me, Relentless is that point.
 
Relentless is the story of fiction writer Cubby Greenwich who comes to the 
attention of critic Shearman Waxx. Waxx is scathing of One O'Clock Jump, Cubby's 
latest release, and Cubby just cannot let it lie. A chance encounter in a local 
restaurant brings Cubby into physical contact with Waxx and from here things 
start to get quite out there.
 
The plot centres around Waxx's victimisation of Cubby and his family; wife 
Penny, a children's author and super genius son Milo aged six.  Shearman Waxx is 
painted as a strange and vindictive man which works well in the build up to a 
violent and terrifying pursuit of the Greenwich family and it becomes apparent 
that this isn't the first time he has terrorised authors he considers of poor 
skill.  So we have a great premise set of psychopathic critic who is hell bent 
on killing the Greenwich's for his justified reason of ridding the world of poor 
work. Yet what could have been great flounders into mediocrity for me.
 
The problem is that the characters created are just too out there and quirky to 
make the story have credibility. We discover through the story that Waxx is part 
of a thousand strong secret militia intent on doing away with creators of poor 
writing, art and other mediums. To counter this we are introduced to Grimbald 
and Clotilda, Penny's parents, who are demolition expert hippies with secret 
nuclear bunkers dotted across North America in case of the end of the 
world. However, the strangest and most unrealistic character for me is Milo, the 
wise-cracking six year old genius whose ability with quantum physics is light 
years beyond anything we are currently capable of. Oh,forgot about the dog, 
don't get me started on the dog!
 
For their extremes I found that I couldn't relate to any of the characters and 
by about 100 pages in I just didn't care if they lived or not.  Everyone's a bit 
too cool for school and, mixed with Koontz's social commentary dotted throughout 
it, the story became secondary to everything else. When we finally get to the 
end of Relentless it feels like Koontz has decided that if you've come this far then he might 
as well throw in what he likes and see if it sticks. The end is ridiculous and I 
had to read it twice to convince myself he'd actually used the plot twist I was 
reading. I won't divulge in case you decide to pick up the book but suffice to 
say the laws of physics were broken due to the genius of young Milo.
 
There are bits I liked, the back story to Cubby for instance which showed the 
most catastrophic of family tragedies and a close second was Waxx's stalking of 
the Greenwich's in their own home which was excellent. If the rest of the 
book was like these two sections then we would have a 5 star book here but these 
highlights were too few and far between to make the story what it should have 
been.
 
Quirky characters, witty dialogue in the face of death and twisting, out there 
endings work well in other Koontz work such as Odd Thomas or Life Expectancy but 
the formula just didn't deliver today. It's a shame really but I'm sure that 
normal service will be resumed soon.
 
2 out of 5
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Published in: on 15/02/2011 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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