Newest F+ Award: The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

Some time ago, I posted about how the worst book I’ve ever sat down and read all of would have to be Star Wars:  The New Jedi Order:  Vector Prime (the title’s too long for one thing).  Now that I stop and think about it, the second worst would have to be Dean Koontz’ The Bad Place, which is why I’m giving this book a much-deserved F+ Award.

When I was younger, probably much too young in fact, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with supernatural horror novels.  In the early part of junior high, I read way too many Stephen King novels and Edgar Allan Poe short stories.  Then, I decided to give Stephen a rest and try out Dean Koontz–Big Mistake.  The Bad Place not only was a bad novel, but it turned me off of the horror genre altogether.  I read it most likely in eighth grade, and since then, have barely picked up horror literature except for the occasional H.P. Lovecraft story or The Kreutzer Sonata, which is to my mind a very scary book.

So in my brief synopsis here, I’m going to be including spoilers.  Normally I have reservations about doing this, but (excuse my crassness) you can’t spoil a turd.  If anything, I hope I’m saving you from what your curiosity might convince you to read.

I remember as I was reading The Bad Place, early on I felt it was a lousy book, and I find it kind of funny I was even making such a distinction at that age.  My taste in entertainment was pretty generic.  I even liked (originally) the film Armageddon.  In most cases, if I read about eighty pages and still feel the book is lousy, I’ll stop reading it unless I’m perhaps contracted to continue.  In this case, I went against my better judgement and kept reading.  Again, this was a big mistake.

The book, from what I can remember, is about a detective hunting a guy who goes around murdering scientists.  Originally, all of these scientists die in what seems like a pattern, except that these deaths are happening hundreds of miles apart.  Each killing though looks like it’s been done by the same fellow.  It is the same guy killing all these people it turns out, but the detective can’t figure out how.  To make it weirder, there’s all this stuff about how the murderer keeps getting hurt and regenerating somehow.

You can probably see how the premise might excite an impressionable kid.  I thought the book was garbage, but I kept reading trying to figure out how this murderer was given supernatural powers.  This meant trudging through several hundred pages of lackadaisical plotting and third-rate writing until it’s finally revealed how the murderer commits his crimes, and how he has superhuman powers.  That’s when the lousy book gets worse.

It turns out, the way the murderer kills people hundreds of miles apart is that he teleports.  How does he teleport you might ask?  Apparently, his parents were products of an incestuous relationship, and they dropped acid and did other harsh drugs while the mother was pregnant.  Somehow this combo grants the murderer the ability to teleport.  Then, the way that he heals and has super strength is that–get ready–he has three testicles.

In my imagination, I had already come up with all these possible outcomes where it was revealed he was an alien emissary or a demigod or something cool like that.  Instead, he was a crack baby with a bad attitude.  I’d read the whole book wondering how the killer got his power, and it ended up being something so incredibly stupid that I kicked myself then and kick myself now for not giving it up when common sense dictated.

How then does the teleporting killer get taken down?  The detective whose also his hermaphroditic brother (so stupid I won’t even go into it) tracks down his tri-gonad murderous brother, they get in a fight, teleport all over the world, go to a different planet for no real reason, then, as the killer tries to teleport away, the detective grabs him and they are somehow melded together, both dying together leaving a disgusting corpse.  “O, they were inextricably intertwined in death, like the ballad Barbara Allen or Tristan and Isolde or Where the Red Fern Grows…”  –No such poetic sentiments are wasted on this ridiculous book that probably made Dean Koontz millions of dollars.

Now that I think of it, why did I even read a book with a title as tawdry as The Bad Place?  I guess I deserve part of the blame.  The dumbest part is, the book isn’t even really about a place.  The guy teleports.  It should be called The Bad Crotch or something like that.

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3 thoughts on “Newest F+ Award: The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

  1. To be fair, there are a lot of weird Dean Koontz books out there, this apparently being one of them (I haven’t read it, but after your summary and a cursory glance at Wikipedia, I don’t think I will). But it’s just your bad luck that you picked a clunker for your first Dean Koontz.

    I understand how reading one bad book by an author can put a bad taste in your mouth forever (I sort of feel that way about Faulkner), but Dean Koontz is worth another shot. He doesn’t write high-brow literature by any means, but many of his books are wonderful. Try Watchers. I can 99.99% guarantee that if you read it with an open mind, you will enjoy it at the very least. It’s far and away his best novel and one of my personal favorites of all time. Good luck!

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