Synopsis: Four people are the last hope of Moonlight Cove, because one by one the rest of the citizens are changing into boogeymen, werewolves, mythical creatures, or something entirely new. They are the New People, willing victims of a seductive experiment in chemically induced evolution. They can transform their bodies at will and eliminate unproductive emotions, like grief and compassion. In fact, the only instinct left to the New People is self-preservation, and their only emotion is fear. And they want the rest of humanity to join them.
Dean Koontz has done it again. He has defied my admittedly low expectations of his skills as a writer and given me a novel I genuinely enjoyed. Granted, this book came out in 1989, when the general consensus has it that ole Koontzy was a bit more consistent in publishing books worthy of, ahem, even being published.
As you can tell from the synopsis I posted above, Midnight is a novel about a small coastal town in California that is changing because of a technological breakthrough by local scientific genius/madman Shaddack. Said scientist has always lived a life thirsting for power and control, and he has finally gained the position he always desired. He has, essentially, created life and is now God of Moonlight Cove. I gotta say this dude is definitely among the creepier villains I've come across in a Dean Koontz novel. Sure, he can be a little over-the-top EEEEEEEEEEEEVIL at times, but Koontz writes a pretty chilling back-story for this guy which is not something this author always does when writing his baddies. Overall, Shaddack is a pretty scary dude.
And, of course, there are good guys -- four in this novel, to be exact (five counting the dog, and I think Koontz would probably want me to do that.... sigh) and all are pretty interesting. Sam is a likable enough undercover agent for the FBI with ghosts from his past he's trying to overcome. Tessa is a woman who's come to town to investigate the death of her sister. Chrissie is a young girl whose parents are among the New People, thus forcing her to go on the run or be changed. And lastly we have Harry, a Vietnam vet. Oh, and Moose. Moose is Harry's dog. Yay dogs? These four must band together to save the town from the science gone amuck, and for the most part I enjoyed reading about all of them. At times they fall prey to usual weakness that always overcome Koontz's antagonists: they are squeaky clean (although Koontzy does seem to go to greater pains than usual to show these characters as flawed -- sometimes it even works), ultra-Conservative, and all of them know how to wield guns without a problem. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Anywho....
As I said before, Koontz pleasantly shocked me with this book. It actually felt scary at times. It never really crawled into my skin like the best kind of horror does, but it did freak me while reading late at night once or twice. Seeing the small town as a whole undergo the changes it does and the way the townspeople respond to it in different ways brought to mind the best King novels -- 'Salem's Lot, The Tommyknockers, et cetera. Despite Koontz's occasional penchant for paper-thin characteristics (glares at what he did with Sam's son) and the rare occurrence of word diarrhea, this book shouldn't be missed. It isn't high-brow literature or really challenging in any way, but it sure is fun!