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The Taking    by Dean Koontz order for
by Dean Koontz
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Molly and Neil Sloane begin to worry about the relentless rain that's been falling hour after hour. Molly knows there is something eerily unnatural about the silvery sheen that covers everything and Neil is plagued by horrible nightmares that defy explanation. Wild animals cower outside their door seeking shelter anywhere they can find it. News reports soon confirm that the entire planet is experiencing extreme weather phenomena that include massive sea-spawned tornadoes. One constant is the luminous rain that continues to fall around the globe. When a disturbing video is released showing the International Space Station being commandeered by an unseen, but deadly force, the implication is clear: alien invasion -- but definitely not the friendly ET's most humans have been expecting.

Within hours all communications links are severed and from that moment on it's every man for himself. Molly and Neil know they don't stand much chance in their secluded home. They pack necessities and head for the nearest town, where it's soon evident the unnatural rain has taken its toll. Corpses rise, and utter proclamations of doom, or reveal secrets that they couldn't know. Molly sees an incarnation of her father - a murderer who should be in an insane asylum, yet is apparently free and promising that he will kill Molly this time. Soon oval-shaped craft are hovering in the fog and those residents still left alive in the small California town have only one choice, to band together and face down the alien threat. But as the hours go by the survivors find themselves asking whether it's truly aliens that are bringing about Earth's apocalypse or something else entirely.

The Taking starts out with great intentions, but it would have worked far better as a short story or novella than this rambling and unsatisfying novel. Scenes that include dialogue are sharp, fast paced and dynamic and move the story briskly along. Unfortunately Mr. Koontz ruins the tone and the pacing by bogging down the action with long-winded paragraphs or pages filled with florid descriptions. He tosses in words that leave you grabbing for the dictionary to see if he's made them up, and trots out others that are so archaic as to sound silly in context. More attention to character development may also have helped to save this disappointing story.

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