“My name is Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk. From as young as I can remember, I loved the city. Mine is a story of love reciprocated. It is the story of loss and hope, and of the strangeness that lies just beneath the surface tension of daily life, a strangeness infinite fathoms in depth.”
Thus begins The City. Jonah Kirk is a musical child prodigy growing up in the sixties, and here he tells about “the dark times” of his life. Estranged from his father, he is nonetheless surrounded by love in the form of his mother and grandparents. Over the course of the narrative he also builds strong relationships with Malcolm Pomerantz and his sister Amalia, Mr. George Yoshioka who lives in an apartment on the floor above Jonah and his mother, and of course Miss Pearl who claims to be the personification of the city itself. He also is threatened by dangerous people after having apparently prophetic dreams. As Jonah’s story progresses, he works to figure out what these people are up to, and what he can do to stop them while protecting those he cares about.
As a long-time fan of Dean Koontz, I looked forward to reading this latest release. His prose is beautiful and evocative, and some of the characters come right off the page. I was particularly taken with Mr. Yoshioka, a man with his own painful past and secrets to keep, yet who is unfailingly kind and patient. There are parts of the book where I was totally caught up, which is something I expect from a Koontz novel. However, unlike most books from this talented author, I had a really difficult time getting into the story. The beginning is almost painfully slow, and there are sections throughout that lagged. I would also add that the supernatural element that I have come to expect was almost nonexistent here.
The end is a true end, tying up the various threads of the story, and it did evoke an emotional response from me. But this is the only Koontz book I’ve ever read where I had to make myself keep reading, and that’s a disappointment. There are some readers who I’m certain will absolutely love The City, but it didn’t quite meet my high expectations.