Audiobook review, Watchers by Dean Koontz

The audio book cover on Audible Sometimes what makes a book worth reading isn’t the interesting way people use dashes with almost perfect grammar or the fast paced action, but sometimes the little moments in books as well as the characters can make everything better, even when everything else is ordinary. Watchers by Dean Koontz doesn’t have the best prose alive. In fact, it doesn’t sport the best writing style either, with excessive descriptions and jarring word choice but the characters and the very human moments in between are what make this book a book people should read, at least once.

On the surface, the story seems very simple.

From a top-secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose.

On his thirty-sixth birthday, Travis Cornell hikes into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. But his path is soon blocked by a bedraggled Golden Retriever, who will let him go no further into the dark woods.

That morning, Travis had been desperate to find some happiness in his lonely, seemingly cursed life. What he finds is a friend — a dog of alarming intelligence — and a threat that could only have come from the darkest corners of man’s imagination…

The story is a suspense story, no doubt, but that isn’t the only thing between the pages. Because of this reason, the book should be read at least once by the masses, including the audio version, which has a narrator that brings the scenes and characters to life with an authoritatively passionate reading.

J. Charles provides a listening experience that does justice to the small character interactions that make the other things, such as excessive description, very tolerable.

The story isn’t just about Travis, and the super intelligent dog, Einstein, however. It’s many stories that blend and bond because of the lively characters, including the dog that should be everyone’s pet. It’s the story of Nora learning to overcome her shyness to embrace the world. It’s the story of a hardened detective who has to learn to enjoy the family more than he’s tracking down the missing dog. It’s the story of Travis overcoming depression to find the courage to love people again.

Even though those stories exist, the focus of the narrative is the suspense of the end, which will also have readers turning the pages but not as much as the little interactions between Einstein and Travis, such as when Einstein tells Travis that he isn’t his master. He’s his friend.

The motivation to read this tale comes from sprinkles of moments such as the one above, and it’s refreshing to take a break from the action to laugh as Einstein tries to convince squirrels that he’s harmless or to chuckle as Einstein plays matchmaker as he drops Modern Bride magazines before Travis and Nora when they are out in a shopping mall. If the book didn’t have those sweet and tender moments in it the examples of Dean Koontz’s early days would become much more apparent. The characters and the touching moments, however, provide the right kind of distraction from the writing to make this book a recommendation for anyone who loves dogs or wants something different from the usual suspense formula.

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