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Frankenstein: Book Three, Dead and Alive-Dean Koontz

In Book Reviews, fiction, horror on October 4, 2010 at 12:11 am

The Conclusion of The Frankenstein Trilogy

Dead and Alive, Book Three of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein trilogy, concludes the story of Victor Frankenstein/Helios vs Deucalion, Carson, and Michael. Deucalion is set on his goal: to destroy his creator, Victor Frankenstein, who is now going by the name Victor Helios and lives in New Orleans, where he makes human replicants by the thousands. Helping Deucalion are a number of factors: the two New Orleans police officers, Carson and Michael, are his helpers in taking down Helios, but additionally, a flaw in the replicants which is making them act distinctly unlike Helios has designed them is helping the three. The action takes Deucalion and the cops from the building where Victor creates his “people” in New Orleans to a dump outside of Lake Pontchartrain where mistakes from his laboratory and former replicants who had displeased him are disposed of and to a variety of locales in between. The action is fast in this installment, and the majority of the book reads like the story is careening toward the ending.

This third book is bizarre in some parts, and unnecessarily so.  It’s already quite fantastical that a man has created thousands of creatures that look and act like humans but are as replaceable as worn out shoes.  It’s not necessary to up the weird factor and introduce characters into the third book that are just creepy and don’t further the plot a great deal.  Koontz introduces Jocko, a troll-like creature that grew out of one of the other replicants (one of the bad guys from the first book), and he befriends Erika 5.  Other than giving her a plaything and bringing out maternal instincts she’s not supposed to have because Victor has intentionally made every one of his creatures unable to reproduce, Jocko does very little to further the story and his dialogue ranges from silly to downright misplaced in parts.  Koontz also introduces the Chameleon, some kind of creature he made in his lab, but this character does nothing to further the plot other than reinforce the point that Victor is an evil madman.  Well, if you made it to the third book and didn’t know that, you just didn’t get the idea from page 1 of Prodigal Son, Book One in the trilogy.

The ending of Dead and Alive is contrived and involves the negation of rules the author himself set up.  If you write that if one character does something, all of his creatures will die (excepting Deucalion, who is a much older model that doesn’t follow the same protocol), and that first character does that particular something, then all the damn creatures must die.  You’re the author; you made the rule.  Now you must stick to it.  But no, Koontz does not, and the reader is left thinking, “Why?  This makes no sense.”

Overall, this series ends on a lackluster note for me.  The second book, City of Night, is the best in the trilogy, with the first book unsatisfying in its ending and the third book problematic in parts.  Deucalion, the original Frankenstein’s monster, continues to be a wonderfully written character in this book, but I would argue still gets too little face time compared to a myriad of sometimes bizarre but often just silly minor characters.  Yes, they are needed to show the breakdown of Victor’s whole world, but they shouldn’t take over the book from the character that exhibits some of the finest qualities in a fictional character I’ve read.

Finally, do not read the back cover blurb and think that is what the story is about.  I’m convinced the explanation of the story on the back is meant for a completely different book.  It’s that far removed from what actually happens in Dead and Alive.
-Alexandria

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