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They were strangers.

A handful of people. From different backgrounds, living in different towns and cities across America, they had nothing in common - except fear.

They were victims.

Cold and stark, an unknown terror gripped their dreams and turned their days into living nightmares.

They were chosen.

And they could not escape. Deep in the heart of a sprawling desert, a dark memory called out to them, drawing them to the Tranquility Motel - where the terrifying truth was waiting...

704 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Dean Koontz

880 books34.3k followers
Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Facebook: Facebook.com/DeanKoontzOfficial
Twitter: @DeanKoontz
Website: DeanKoontz.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 952 reviews
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,064 followers
May 11, 2013
"We may be teetering on the brink of a whole new world. Are you ready for it?"

This review is complicated for me. Dean Koontz’s Strangers is an amalgamation of many things: techno-thriller; psychological horror; science fiction. It’s quite unlike DK’s other 1980s novels. The book does contain some pretty creepy scenes, but the terror generated here is vested in the not knowing; the “something terrible happened to me but I don’t know what” scenario. Strangers is a longish book, at 700-or-so pages, and the great many characters lend it an epic sweep, while the story reminds more than a little of something Spielberg might have come up with. Of course, any story that revolves around a motel in the middle of nowhere is always going to appeal to me.

But is it scary?
And in the morning, he virtually exploded out of sleep with a shrill scream and found himself in total, claustrophobic darkness. Something had hold of him, something cold and clammy and strange and alive.

Koontz manages to wring some very real chills from his story, but this isn’t a full-blooded Horror novel. It’s ominous and sinister at times, but it never crosses into the realm of the macabre. I’m not mentioning this as criticism, but if you’re purely looking for a Koontz Horror fix you may want to explore something like Phantoms or Midnight instead. The horror element in this novel runs out of steam once most of the mysteries are solved. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good story that just happens to contain some chilling elements and a dash of the paranormal, then Strangers is the book for you.

I will say this, though: there is a depiction of a medical procedure that literally had me squirming.

The less you know about the premise of Strangers, the better. The novel is 90% build-up and 10% reveal, so you really don’t want to know too much beforehand. It is a (fairly cinematic) novel about obsession, the fear of the unknown and the search for answers, but it is also a novel about the value of friendship and one which brims with a sense of wonder.

“What frightens you so?"
"I don't know. Something in my nightmares."

Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books174 followers
November 6, 2016
Changing my rating on this since I remember that it was just awful! And that Koontz' writing is dire.

I found that I enjoyed this in the same way that you enjoy a terrible film. It is entertaining because it is so bad. That being said I might pick up a Koontz book again just for the lolz.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,812 followers
March 14, 2018
Picture me beating my head against a wall...or a table....or a desk, or something. Dean Koontz can write a good book, he's written several that rate among my favorites. This isn't one.

To be fair different books by DK rate high and low with different people. I've read that this was his first best seller. Cool. I see that there are a lot of people who love it and for them I'm happy. Really.

For me this book was too long for the story it told. The disparate characters of the story each struggling with and/or suffering from their different "situations" was a good idea, but he dragged (drug?) it out too long. FAR TOO LONG. I was so sick of the individual stories bouncing around and seemingly getting no where meaningful chapter after chapter I was just burned out. By the time I got to the climax I just didn't care any more.

I mentioned elsewhere that when I lay a book aside and find myself looking for something to watch amid the drek on TV instead of getting back to the novel it may be time to lay the book aside completely. I was getting there. I did skip forward a few times.

So if you like this, good for you. I would suggest that DK fans look for themselves as we all tend to disagree about his best works. For me I find this book to have a vastly too long "fore-section" that took way too long setting up the story. When it got there the climax was hokey and disappointing (to me anyway). I can't really recommend this one highly, but it's...okay.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,986 reviews116 followers
May 19, 2022
Strangers was one of Koontz's first long, successful, big mash-up novels, with elements of suspense, mystery, science fiction, romance, Western, tech-thriller, intrigue, and any other flavor you'd care to suggest. I also thought it was the most similar to Stephen King's brand, including the a-little-less-than-one-wanted ending. The major characters are enjoyable (though none of them are a dog), and all pleasantly quirky (if a bit one sided), all the way down to their psychological afflictions; they all get together in Nevada and things get stranger for the strangers as their stories intertwine and unfold. It's all about the mystery, and I can't say anything else without being spoilery... Classic mid-period Koontz.
Profile Image for Tressa .
541 reviews
September 26, 2009
I picked up a bag full of old Koontz books, and this is the one I chose to read first. I'm glad I did. Although it's a dense book, it was worth the wait slowly getting to know the characters and having their fears revealed little by little, one by one. When the strangers convene once again at the Tranquility Inn to get to the bottom of what happened one July night a year before and end their nightmares, the tension and fear of what they saw and heard from the skies is palpable. The ending is just beautiful and very poignant and I kept wishing that I could have been one of the lucky few to witness the event.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,734 reviews938 followers
October 1, 2019
This has to be one of my least favorite reads of 2019. Good lord this is just bad. And it has too many characters and not enough plot. When we finally get to the whole conspiracy aspect of this I laughed. I think since this was written in 1986 it made sense to Koontz to write it the way that he did. However, as someone who grew up watching B level monster movies, this is just no comparison at all.

This book also indulges in all of Koontz's many writing weaknesses through the years, we can see his beginning fascination with military men or women who know how to shoot guns. We can see the "Perfect Woman" that shows up in his books again and again, though this one is short and a doctor. I can't recall him writing a woman with a job in his last couple of books that wasn't an artist or doctor. The book is also too freaking long. This is over 700 pages. I skipped over the Afterword because (swear word) you that's why. I didn't care what Koontz had to say about this book at this point. He had 700 pages to say it, and I was just done. This book fits so many squares for Halloween bingo, but I refuse to recommend you all read this. Just stay away.

"Strangers" follows like 20 people. I don't know. I stopped counting once we got up to five separate story-lines. Anyway, back to the book, "Strangers" follows a lot of people across the United States over a period of a few weeks who seem to be hiding from someone or something. Some of these people go into fugue states, others are scared of the dark, of black gloves (no really) and all of them are starting to feel strange. Once the strangers start to connect the dots they realize that all of them seem to be missing a period of time. And what happened during that period will be a revelation.

Cue the sad trombone noise.

So off the top of my head, these are the only characters I can remember. Dom, a writer who has hit it big. Ginger, a surgeon. Ernie who is a retired Marine who runs a motel with his wife Faye. Brendan who is a priest. Jack Twist whose name made me laugh a lot who is a retired Army Ranger but is now a thief (don't ask me, I didn't write this) and Stefan another priest. There are other people that were brought up later in the book and I refuse to go back and look their names up. Koontz focuses on these people at first (6 strangers) and then adds in more people. And let's not get into all of the secondary and tertiary characters. It's too much. I just maybe ugly laughed at one point last night or this morning (it was around 1 am) and I started to wonder if Koontz wanted to go up against King for most characters vis a vis, "The Stand." For those who are wondering, "The Stand' was published in 1978 and I recall as a kid not even trying to get through that brick. I jumped around a lot while trying to finish that at the age of 12. One of these days I will re-read.

I usually have one or two people I like in these kinds of books and honestly the only person that I felt any infinity with while reading was Ginger. I loved her whole backstory and if the book had focused solely on her I would have loved it. A young woman whose Jewish father and Swedish mother were very much in love with each other and her, she's excelled at anything she has ever wanted to do. When she starts taking part in surgeries in Boston and when she starts to have terrors and blank spots in her memory, she's legitimately scared she has a tumor or something else wrong with her. Unfortunately, Koontz switches back and forth between her and 5 other people, and then adds in more, and then Ginger is just lost in the wind like everyone else.

I already said this book seemed to start Koontz's fascination with portraying ex-military personnel as characters. One character, Jack Twist, had a storyline involving his wife that reminded me a bit of "The Husband."

The writing was great in parts (hence the one star) this book just needed way cut back. And when we get to Part III the book hit a ridiculous stage and when we get into the reveal I maybe said seriously? The flow was bad. There was no action until maybe the last 100 pages. Maybe less than that? When all is revealed. Until then it's just all of these people we track trying different ways to figure out what is going on with them. It's not that interesting in the end.

The setting of the book of course takes part in the 1980s. I can see some elements of horror and science fiction books and movies taking place here. We get the scary government element (see E.T., Flight of the Navigator, etc.). You also get (spoilers) which is very 80s too.

The ending was just a wash for me. I felt like I was being preached to (a favorite thing that Koontz still likes to do in his books) and just felt bored and also robbed of the time I spent reading this.
Profile Image for Maciek.
562 reviews3,314 followers
April 24, 2010
Strangers (1986)

"Strangers" is not your typical Koontz book. It was his first hardcover bestseller and the first book he wrote without resorting to outlines.
Plus it bears a glowing endorsment from Stephen King, who states that it's "The best novel he has written!".

The novel is concerned with a group of strangers from all over the USA - a surgeon, a writer, a motel-keeper, a priest and a thief - who are troubled by different phobias - nyctophobia, somnambulism, anxiety. They have nothing in common - except for one hot summer night at the Tranquility Motel.

Strangers is a skilfully woven tale, though it has its flaws. Koontz characters only seem to have nothing in common - they all suffer from Koontz's "trademark" black and white personality disorder. The good guys are ideal; the writer is the author of touching bestsellers, the doctor is devoted to her task of saving lives, and the thief is basically a modern version of Robin Hood.
The novel captures the attention of the reader and keeps him involved in the first two parts, but it looses the steam in part three. His simple minded moralising and heavy preaching about the importance of values such as love and friendship is annoying. The final action sequences, as always with Koontz, are cop-outs and hard to accept by a serious reader, but since this is no serious fiction I guess this can be overlooked.
The ending in itself is very poignant and moving, if only he could keep his standard blabbering to minimum...

Overall, the main issue with "Strangers" is that it could have been so much more. The topic tackled by Koontz is extremely interesting, and with a good editor it could have been executed much better - but I still liked it very much, mainly because it's better than all the garbage he's been putting out recently and it created vivid images in my head. The moon !
Profile Image for Chad Lorion.
Author 1 book24 followers
October 14, 2014
I read Strangers years ago, and it's probably about time for a reread. For me, it's that good, my second favorite Koontz book behind Watchers which was written in 1987, the year after Strangers was published.

Dominick Corvaisis, author
Ginger Weiss, surgeon
Ernie Block, U.S.M.C. (ret.), and his wife, Faye Block
Brendan Cronin, priest and curate
Jack Twist, former Army Ranger and P.O.W., professional thief
Jorja Monatella, formerly Rykoff, Las Vegas casino cocktail waitress

Six people, six...wait for it...Strangers!, each afflicted by different and...wait for it...strange! maladies, each unable to figure out on his/her own what is causing the somnambulism, fugue states, nyctophobia, loss of faith, among other...yeah, here it is again...strange happenings.

Strangeness all around. And just in time for Halloween!

Strangers is a doorstopper of a book, the paperback version hefting 681 pages of ink. And that's just fine with me. If an author does it correctly, the longer the book the better. Koontz does it correctly here. What I love about this story is that it pulled me into each character's life, peeling away layer after layer, exposing the hopes and fears and anxieties of the characters, but it's not just their hopes and fears and anxieties, it's also ours. We all have those hidden parts of our lives that we dare not let anyone else discover. No, no. We keep those areas in the back corners of our hearts, not daring to expose our weaknesses and worries. Not daring to become vulnerable, never quite understanding that we're already vulnerable, no matter how much we may fight against that.

All of us are vulnerable.

It's when these six characters come to terms with what their suffering, admit their vulnerability, and rely on each other for help, comfort, and strength, where the story really takes off. Again, we all need the help offered by others at times, the comfort of family, and the strength that comes from the numerous friends we all have. I loved watching this band of strangers come together, find strength in each other, press forward to discover the common secret they all share (even though they don't at first know what that secret it) and confront their common enemy.

And when they find out that their common enemy is a lot closer than any of them imagined...well, enough said on that.

If all you've read of Koontz is the stuff he's put out the past ten years, and you'd like to get a taste of what he used to write before he fell in love with golden retrievers and Odd Thomas and single-sentence paragraphs, check out Strangers. It just may be a breath of fresh air and spur you on to more of Koontz's earlier works.

Next up in the review queue, I'll write about an Orson Scott Card novel that had me crying like a baby during the last ten pages. And no, it's not Ender's Game. You know, the man has written a bunch of other books beside the Ender series!

Profile Image for Jesse.
216 reviews
January 29, 2016
I've re-read this book several times over the years, and for me it holds up very well. I like books you can sink your teeth into, and really get to know the characters...and this book, longer than average, allows you to do just that.
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
723 reviews209 followers
April 2, 2018
A shockingly bad novel from Dean Koontz’s “classic” period, Strangers is a big, dumb, plodding creature overstuffed with banal characters and pointless storylines, all which converge to form a predictable, distinctly Koontzian ending. While Koontz’s novels that focus on a couple of characters are typically fun (albeit brainless) reading, with this the author bit off more than he could chew. Lifeless and insufferable, I could barely make it through what Stephen King once called Dean Koontz’s “finest novel.”
Profile Image for Tim.
2,131 reviews200 followers
September 9, 2020
This story is more than 30 years old, so I tried to consider that with my generous evaluation. No better than 1 1/2 stars. I'm glad this wasn't my first Koontz as there may not have been another. Religion rears its head and the end is anything but satisfactory. 3 of 10 stars
Profile Image for Karen B..
457 reviews9 followers
March 3, 2015
This was probably my fourth time reading this book and I have to say this is one example of Koontz at his best. Maybe it's because of my advancing years causing me to be forgetful, but I think it's Koontz magic that makes this book just as exciting as that first night in 1986 or 1987 when I stayed up much too late just to finish it. It bristled with excitement with each new piece of the puzzle trying to figure out what exactly happened to these strangers that links them together. I loved all of the main characters who were not necessarily perfect but good-hearted. At various times both the characters of Ginger's father Jacob, through her remembering what he'd taught her, and that of Father Wycazek bring home the message of the book and sum up its theme. I liked how this book differs from Koontz's more recent writings where everything happening is brought together by the end of the book. The questions left for me after this reading were now "why did...?" or "how does ...?" but more of a "What If?" It's also a very different book from the more recent dystopian fiction coming out lately. Dean Koontz at his finest.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 61 books52 followers
November 2, 2018
This is one of those novels that will linger in your thoughts for decades and I don’t just mean an image or two. From the very first chapter, Koontz starts cultivating feelings of suspense and ever increasing tension that will have your desperately turning pages, or, if listening to it in audio as I did this time, finding excuses to keep the book playing long after your commute is done. What is especially impressive for an author who made his reputation in the horror genre is that it’s not even clear that there is going to be a supernatural element for half the book. It opens with a man who finds himself hiding in the closet after apparently sleep walking. He’s sore, he’s frightened, and he has no idea what is going on. But it isn’t until he pulls himself together and sits down at his computer to continue writing his books that things get really eerie. He finds that while sleep walking he has typed page after page of just two words: “I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared.”

Koontz then shifts focus to a young doctor on her day off who panics and flees in a fugue state when she notices a pair of black gloves. Next we meet a retired marine who is suddenly terrified of the dark and trying desperately to hide his fear from his wife. None of these people have any apparent connection, yet they are all showing evidence of psychological suffering they can’t explain. Later in the book we meet a young child who has become terrified of doctors and a priest whose deep and abiding faith suddenly collapses so that he throws the chalice in the middle of Mass. And the list goes on. What makes this all the more frightening is it is way too easy to imagine yourself suffering these almost normal problems which means that you will enjoy a high level of empathy with each of these very well drawn characters.

As we get deeper into the novel, elements of a vast conspiracy begin to be uncovered with the real possibility of danger to the people trying to find out why they are suffering these bizarre symptoms. This ramps up the tension to a whole new level as we also began to meet people who have gone over the edge and even kill themselves as a result of the psychological harm they have suffered. At the same time suppressed memories begin to pop free in those sufferings and they separately begin to evolve plans that will ultimately bring them together to find out what incredible event triggered all of this.

I don’t want to give away the end of this novel, but I found it to have a totally satisfying conclusion. The chief villain, when he is revealed, is both frightening and believable. This is a long book—nearly 30 hours in audio—but every page is worth reading. 5 stars
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
948 reviews67 followers
June 29, 2022
I had read this before, and I remember loving it. This time around, not so much. Dean Koontz has a verbosity that most times reaches the depths of soul, such that it resonates in the reader because the reader has felt that way before. This novel has verbosity that just drones on and on. He begins by telling the story of 6 characters, as if each is the MC, but by the end of the narrative, those characters have multiplied into 2 dozen. This is not a well-told story. It meanders, loses itself, and then aimlessly tries to find its way. I was really disappointed at the piss poor storytelling and found myself hoping, praying to end it and put myself out of my misery. I just finished it and the ending is not terrible, but it sure took its time getting here. This is the first time I will say this about a Koontz work. I probably will never read this again.
Profile Image for Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl.
1,073 reviews143 followers
June 3, 2020
A terrible darkness has fallen upon us,
but we must not surrender to it.
We shall lift lamps of courage
and find our way through to the morning.

- Anonymous member of the French Resistance (1943)

I think we are in rats' alley,
Where the dead men lost their bones,

-T. S. Eliot

Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Courage, love, friendship,
compassion, and empathy
lift us above the simple beasts
and define humanity.

-The Book of Counted Sorrows

This is a really long Dean Koontz novel. At times it seems a bit much, but I believe it's worth sticking with. A really beautiful conclusion. A book of paranoia, phobias and obsessions but also a message of connection, hope and the future of humanity. The moon plays a significant role in the story.

During my most recent reading of STRANGERS, I was inspired to re-experience a particular film, and I plan to read the short story upon which it was based: I haven't read this story, but I'm excited to do so.

Strangers features Dean's often used method which can be experienced in Jane Hawk Novels, The Mask, The House of Thunder, The Key to Midnight and False Memory.

Favorite Passages:

"What the hell happened to you during that long drive to Utah? Something must've given you a real jolt, something big enough to knock you out of your complacency."
"Nope. It was an uneventful trip."
"Not inside your head, it wasn't."

At the far end of the fourth-floor hall, in the last room on the right, lived the dead woman who still breathed.

Ernie pulled open the drapes. He peered out at the night and told himself that this perfect blackness was not so bad - deep and pure, vast and cold, but not malevolent, and in no way a personal threat.
However, as he watched, unmoving and unmovable, portions of the darkness seemed to . . . well, to shift, to coalesce, forming into not quite visible but nonetheless solid shapes, lumps of pulsing and denser blackness within the greater blackness, lurking phantoms that at any moment might launch themselves toward the fragile window.

The sleepwalker would be well-advised to search the past for the source of his problem. That is where the secret is buried.

. . . a delightful surprise and an inexplicable mystery.

She was more interested in the immediate terrain, which exerted a mysterious and powerful attraction for her, and which seemed to radiate peace the way a rock, in evening, radiated the heat of the sun that it had absorbed during the day.

"In retrospect I can see that her behavior had all the earmarks of a phobia. Irrational fear, panic attacks . . . "

"I'll have to ransack the place, empty out drawers, take a few things of value, and make it look like you two walked in on a burglar . . . Should I maybe rape you, too? I mean, would a burglar just shoot a good-looking girl like you? Wouldn't he rape you first? Wouldn't that make this look more real?"

He drove through the university campus, stopping repeatedly to let the familiar scenes stir feelings and attitudes of times past. he parked across the street from the apartment where he'd lived, and as he stared up at the windows, he tried to recall the man he had been then.
He was surprised at how difficult it was to recollect the timidity with which that other Dom Corvaisis had viewed life.

He was seeking satori, which was a Zen word meaning "sudden enlightenment," a profound revelation. But enlightenment eluded him.

He was afraid. Afraid of the past. Afraid of the future. But afraid mostly because he did not know why he was afraid.

The girl looked bewildered, as if she were not quite sure where she was or who Jorja was. Then her eyes cleared, and she gave her mother a smile that could melt butter. "Hi, Mommy. I been coloring moons."
"Well, now it's time to get ready for bed," Jorja said.
"In a little while, okay?" The girl appeared to be relaxed, yet she was gripping a crayon so tightly that her knuckles were white. "I want to color some more moons."
. . .
Red. The girl was coloring all the moons red, both those she had drawn and those clipped from newspapers and magazines. She had already painted more than fifty lunar images. The obsessive quality of the girl's work was evident in the great care she had taken to keep the crayon from slipping past the outline of each moon. The crayon had been applied more heavily picture by picture, until some moons were coated with so much scarlet wax that they had a glisteningly wet look.
The use of red - and red alone - profoundly disturbed Jorja. It almost seemed as if Marcie had glimpsed an augury of some onrushing terror, a premonition of blood.

Dom remembered every detail of the place now that he was standing in it, and he had the impression that a multitude of ghosts flitted teasingly through the room, staying just at the periphery of his vision. The ghosts were actually bad memories rather than spirits, and they haunted not the room but the shadowy corners of his own mind.

She hoped she would one day meet the people who had messed with her mind. She wanted to look in their eyes and ask them how they could have so little respect for the personal integrity of another human being. Now that she knew she had been manipulated, she would never again feel entirely secure.
Stirred by the wind, the dry sagebrush made a scraping-rustling noise. Ice-crusted twigs clicked against one another with a sound that, fancifully, made Faye think of small, scurrying skeletons of little animals long dead but somehow reanimated.

"I don't want this. I don't want to be so different from other people."

"What's it mean, Father? I heard you tell Mr. Mendoza this wasn't the whole story. What's happening?"
In their faces, he saw a longing to believe, not particularly in the truths of Catholicism or Christianity, for not all were Catholics or Christians, but a deep-seated longing to believe in something greater and better and cleaner than humankind, an intense yearning for spiritual transcendence.
"What's it mean, Father?" one of them asked again.
"Something's happening," he told them. "Here, elsewhere. A great and wonderful something. This child is part of it. I can't tell you for sure what it means or that we've seen the hand of God here, though I believe we have. Look at Hector on his mother's lap, eating candy, and remember God's promise: 'There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,' In my heart of hearts, I feel that the former things are about to pass away."

"Do cardinals wear pants under their robes?"

We care. That is what differentiates us from the beasts of the field. That's what Jacob had always said. Intellect, courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy - each of those qualities was as important to the human species as all the others, Jacob had said. Some people thought only intellect counted: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. All were important factors that had contributed to the ascendancy and supremacy of humankind, yes, but the many functions of intellect were insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy. We care. It is our curse. It is our blessing.


In spite of its plainness, the chamber had a warmth, appeal, and magic that, strangely enough, reminded Ginger of her father's private office at the back of his first jewelry store in Brooklyn, the one he always used as his headquarters. The walls of that sanctum sanctorum had been decorated only with a calendar, and the furniture had been inexpensive, old, and well used. Plain. Even drab. But for Ginger, it had been a fine and magical room, because Jacob had seldom worked there but had squirreled away with one book or another, from which he'd often read to her. Sometimes it would be a mystery, or a fantasy about gnomes and witches, a story of other worlds, or a thriller about spies. And when Jacob read, his voice acquired a resonant and mesmerizing timbre. The reality of the gray little office faded, and for hours Ginger could believe herself to be investigating with Sherlock Holmes upon the misty moors, celebrating with the Hobbit Mr. Bilbo Baggins inside the Hill at Bag End, or with Jim and Will as they explored the terrible carnival in Mr. Bradbury's lovely book. Jacob's office hadn't been only what it seemed to be . . . under its drab skin, it harbored wondrous things, great mysteries.

Two quotes from Afterword by Dean Koontz:

I was not fully sane when I wrote Strangers.

I dreamed of writing a book that would be big in narrative scope and theme, that would be stuffed with interesting characters, that would rivet the reader with twists and turns and mystery and wonder, that would be THE BEST DAMN BOOK EVER WRITTEN. Yes, of course, that is an absurd goal, overweening ambition of the most deplorably weening sort, especially as The Little Engine That Could had already been published and had established a literary pinnacle that no mortal writer will ever achieve again.
Profile Image for Wendi WDM.
235 reviews9 followers
May 10, 2009
I used to love Koontz, when I was in junior high. What happened? Oh, I know, I grew up and realized that his characters are absolutely ridiculous.

Dean Koontz, much like his mid-life crisis make over from bald mustached guy to full of head of hair and clean shaven face, is just one big old cliche. There, I said it.

This book had promise. Again, I had read it years ago, but it didn't stick with me, so when I saw it at the used book store I had to pick it up again. I should have kept the three dollars and gone to the library. But I was all, "It's Koontz! It's summer in Florida already, gotta get my summer horror reading on!"

Yeah, no. After reading some of the books I've been reading lately - see Bee Season, Bastard Out of Carolina - Koontz just doesn't live up to my tastes anymore. So I'm sad to say I'm just going to have to let him go.

So what's so bad about Strangers? Oh, everything is hackneyed. The heroes and heroines are perfect. He doesn't come out and say they are perfect, but he might as well because they have absolutely no flaws or faults. None. Dom Corvaisis is a soon to be highly toted and celebrated fiction writer who's handsome, but not a lick of personality. Ginger Weiss - she's short and spunky and incredibly smart skipped grades in high school and graduated from medical school at the top of her class- workacholic. Even the supposed bad guy has a heart of gold and turns good guy at the end. It's just too much! Where's the internal struggle? Where's the meat?

That's just it. There's really no meat to Koontz's books. All the characters are the same just in different situations. It's all so formulaic and I'm done with formulas unless it has to do with shopping (my mom sent me that Shopaholic book a couple of weeks ago).
Profile Image for Jim C.
1,508 reviews27 followers
April 9, 2017
This is a book by Dean Koontz. Even though this author is known for his suspense thrillers, this novel is more like a mystery book with supernatural aspects. In this one, different people from different areas of the country are suffering meltdowns. Some are sleepwalking, others are afraid of the dark, and others are scared of the moon. All of these people have a shared experience.

This book had a X-Files feel to it as the author gives us one piece of the puzzle at a time. I liked this change of book from this author as this author usually writes about good versus evil and the chase between them. This was a mystery book that the reader goes along for the ride as the characters discover each piece of the puzzle and they attempt to put all the pieces together. This novel does have a lot of set up but I was never bored with it. I was interested throughout as I was wondering where the mystery led to. And I would have never guessed the result even though it makes sense knowing this author as I am a fan. There is a large cast of characters in this book and the reader should be able to connect with some of them.

For the majority of this novel this is not your typical Dean Koontz book. It really felt like a mystery book but it isn't your typical mystery book either. There wasn't a ton of action but I always wanted to read more because of the mystery and I was curious to find out what happened to this cast of characters. This is a lengthy book but a very enjoyable one.

Profile Image for Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf).
445 reviews286 followers
September 2, 2014
I enjoyed this book. It had some suspenseful moments. I wish I could have given it more than 3 stars. However...
It was long. Too long. There were many unnecessary characters and events which had absolutely no point except to add to the word count. And everything was described with such meticulous detail. Too much detail.

I was disappointed with the ending. It could have been so much more. Thankfully everything wrapped up nicely, but all that momentum built up in the beginning of the novel came to a somewhat unsatisfying climax. I found myself saying "REALLY???? That's it??".

Having said that, I did enjoy most of the characters. I loved Dom and his sleepwalking, Ginger and her fugues, and Jack.
I was genuinely hooked at the start of the novel. Unfortunately not impressed enough to give it more than three stars at the end.

I will defiantly give Koontz another try and look forward to reading more of his work.
Profile Image for Tony.
485 reviews37 followers
October 31, 2022
17% in and I wish I was plagued by nightmares. Would be vastly more entertaining than turning another page of this bollocks.

Just awful.

So it goes. .
Profile Image for Tracy.
454 reviews36 followers
May 7, 2020
I have had this book on my TBR for four years and really not sure why. Koontz is by far my favorite author and it takes me more than usual to read a Koontz book since I love to savor the words on the pages. I read this one in a little under two weeks and I love it.

As usual, Koontz writes an appealing, unique plot about humanity. He brings together the most unlikely characters that bond in the most unlikely way. To say that this story is very thought provoking is a little mild because Koontz always provides us with the stories that probe at our minds and emotions.

Koontz uses an extremely diverse cast of characters to tell this story.
Jack- thief
Jorja- waitress
Marcie-Jorja's daughter
Brendan- priest
Ernie-ex-marine and hotel owner
Faye-Ernie's wife
Ned-restaurant owner
Sally-Ned's wife

I loved each and every one of them.
Profile Image for DeAnna Knippling.
Author 162 books259 followers
February 11, 2017

Did not like. 600 pages of setup for 100 pages of plot. Atheists are evil psychopaths, Native Americans weren't butchered, they just lay down and died because their culture was inferior, and you're sure brave, little lady. The big revelation is not a surprise and the ending lacks logic. Umm...Yep, those atheists. Fighting against everything good. Dang Ol Atheists.

The techniques are good. I did a lot of skimming, but was forced to keep turning pages to find out what happened. And the characters are mostly excellent, real people reacting in a variety of ways to an improbable situation. It's just that the MESSAGE is so crude and clumsy that it felt like an imposition, like the author was unwilling to play fair.

Now, say, Intensity, by the same author, gets much of the same point across--but does so in a way that I personally found enjoyable. This was just...a two by four of shouting and bad logic.
2 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2007
This is not one of his best books. It drew you in because you wanted to know what happened to the characters to connect them, but I thought the end was anti-climatic. The actual story of the event that occurred to the characters was sort of boring; an interesting concept, but not told in an interesting way. Even the characters, who were interesting throughout most of the story, seemed to become less so during the main "action" part. He's had better.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,509 reviews454 followers
February 3, 2013
In an effort to give Koontz one last try I opted for this one, since it was better reviewed in general than his other books. Even King said that this was Koontz's best, but then again maybe he has a low opinion of his other works. This exhausting massive door stopper consists of three parts, first two are the size of a novel each and the last one the size of a novella. All this reading basically amounted to a giant waste of time. Koontz is capable of creating a somewhat decent plot, but not the characters or a compelling narrative. In his black and white claustrophobically narrow world view he creates protagonist men who are manly and good and women who are lovely and maternal and an antagonist who is just irredeemably horrible. The good characters even pair up with each other just to make it all that much neater. The reader never has to worry about what's gonna happen, because in a Koontz book the good is unfailingly going to triumph. The moral, in this case the wrongness of xenophobia, is driven through with the power and subtlety of a freight locomotive. The main thing is that Koontz is just not an interesting writer, his writing like his characters is consistently flat and by the book. It's serviceable, but there are no nuances, no excitement, no life behind the words, no colors. This book is particularly tedious because of its overwhelming and completely unnecessary verbosity, it's as if the author is trying to overcompensate for lack of quality with quantity and pointlessly detailed digressions to show that he does in fact do some research. . There is a market for Koontz, hence his books keep popping up on bestseller lists, but he caters to the lower denominators, his books are equivalent of a fast food meal, which are always going to be popular and never going to be good. If you're interested in a story about strangers meeting up in a hotel for a mysterious reason, watch Identity. If you're interested in reading a scary or exciting story, read another book, by another author, there are so many good and great ones out there. This book was a waste of time and paper.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews847 followers
July 23, 2012
Weak 3 stars. Neat characters and ideas, but I grew tired of too much “I can’t remember.”

The first 80% or more is stories about a handful of unrelated people living in different parts of the U.S. Ginger is a Boston surgeon. Jack is a New York thief. Dom is a Los Angeles writer. Brendan is a Chicago priest. Ernie owns the Tranquility Motel in Nevada. Each story is broken into maybe eight pieces, and the reader is jumping around among the various stories. I am not a fan of jumping around, but I can see how it was necessary for this story. But I would have preferred less jumping. Some of the characters have recently begun having psychological problems. Ginger occasionally goes into a fugue, losing consciousness. Ernie fears the dark. Dom sleepwalks with troubling results.

I felt the book was too long. I was soooo tired of hearing characters say “I can’t remember” or “I remember this, but I can’t remember any more” or “What is going on?” For most of the book pieces of someone’s memory come out, but never enough to provide answers. Finally at the end, we get the full story of what happened to these people. It was not a fun structure. It reminds me of other books where a psychic gets partial clues and never the whole story until the end. However most of these stories were interesting even though I did not like all the “I can’t remember”s. Characters were good. I loved Jack’s talents, skills, and actions. He made things happen. Ginger had strength, logic, and some good scenes. But most of her time was suffering and wondering

I also liked the ending even though I would have liked more details. I liked the idea of what the future was going to be like for these characters and others. It was thought provoking.

The narrator Dick Hill was very good. But he sounded weird doing a couple of the females.

Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook reading time: 29 hrs and 25 mins. Swearing language: strong but rarely used. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day various U.S. locations. Book copyright: 1986. Genre: sci-fi mystery suspense. Ending: happy for most of the main characters.
Profile Image for Kirstin.
119 reviews
September 28, 2016
Just not a fan of these basic thrillers. I still have about 20 pages left to read but I just don't care. How sad is that?
Profile Image for Checkman.
512 reviews75 followers
October 24, 2015
2.5 Stars

Dean Koontz isn't a terrible writer, but he isn't a great writer either. However he is a very consistent and smooth writer. Amazingly commercial and very successful. Perhaps some of this is simply sour grapes because I will readily admit that I am a middle-brow reader with mainstream tastes, but something about Koontz rubs me the wrong way - though I did enjoy Phantoms. Honestly I don't know why I keep reading his books. The only good thing is I pick them up at yard-sales and thrift stores so I'm not paying full price for them.

Koontz is prolific in the extreme (I have to wonder if he has a ghost writer following a template)and his books are just variations on a handful of themes. Actually there are aspects to his books that reminds me of repertory theatre. Similar characters being played by the same actors. They take turns playing the different roles every couple of weeks in a different production. Comfortable in their sameness. Another comparison that comes to mind is 1970's television.

Okay so now that I'm done with all my griping lets get to the book. It's okay. Starts off strong, but within a couple hundred pages it gets weighed down by the endless details of the various characters trying to figure out what happened to them the "summer before last" (which is repeated Ad nauseam). Two-thirds of the novel consists of this. The big reveal is actually rather predictable and anti-climactic. There is the usual Koontz sermonizing with his stock characters (though the super intelligent dog is missing) and it plays out as one expects. It's forgettable and mediocre, but it isn't awful (I'm contradictory aren't I). I read it during one of my son's football games (it wasn't a good game) and during a couple doctor visits and what not. It reads fast and goes down easily - like a glass of cool flat soda minus the ice. Maybe that's why I keep reading Koontz. His books aren't demanding and can be read with only half of my concentration.

The nice thing is the big old thick novel really keeps up my stats here on Goodreads. LOL
Profile Image for Jacob Heartstone.
246 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2022
This was NOT a good book. I´m sad to say it, but there´s just no other way to describe my reading experience. Additionally to the plot being super unbelievable and illogical, the book managed as well to be spectacularly racist, mysoginistic, culturally hegemonic and generally offensive to all non-heteronormative CIS white American males... all in one go.

In this story, a handful of complete strangers are connected by experiencing similar mental health issues, and, after recognizing the similarities of their problems, they try to find out what happened to them and what causes their episodes of anxiety. So far, so interesting - I thought.

Initially, I was looking forward to see the issue of mental health discussed in a thriller/sci-fi/mystery setting, but the book´s tone turned out to be very condescending towards it and I was absolutely not enjoying myself while reading it. What´s more, I found the characters to be mediocre at best and super bland, empty of individual personalities and unlikeable at worst.

The plot itself and its resolution were ill thought through - the technical side of this mystery was not only very much outdated (the book was first published in the 80s but that was not its only problem by far), it was also filled with plot holes, plot conveniences and half finished strands of reasoning that fail to make any sense in the broader storyline.

Also, the book is much too long and often repetitive - the story could have done with 20-25% less page space and still made just as little sense. The ending itself was highly unbelievable and at the same time very predictable after like 20% of the novel, which never makes for a good mix.

Most of all, however, as briefly mentioned above, I HATED the way this book leaned on and reinforced so many harmful stereotypes about women, gender, gender roles, sexuality, relationships, and mental health issues.

Frankly, I am not sure why I bothered finishing this at all. I guess I was hoping it´d get better at some point, but it just didn´t...
219 reviews2 followers
June 5, 2009
Ok. Strangers is definitely tied with Watchers for My Favorite Koontz Book. Let me break it down for you. Sleepwalking. Telepathic signals. Multiple plotlines all being dragged inexorably towards a creepy hotel in Nevada. Healing powers. A government conspiracy. Nail-biting suspense. And then...AND THEN...EXTRATERRESTRIALS!
Are you sure you've got the right author?
So there's no vicious monster?
There's not a cloud of deadly ectoplasm?
Nah, man. Just an alien species traveling in cryostasis across the galaxy to make contact with other intelligent lifeforms.
I know. Who woulda thunk it?

Anyway, unlike the alien twist in Indiana Jones 4 (LAME.), this one worked out spectacularly. The characters were deep and realistic. The build-up was top-notch and culminated in the biggest shocker in Koontz history. I mean, bravo.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for John Warner.
752 reviews23 followers
March 8, 2021
Separated by miles, a writer, a surgeon, a priest and a retired Marine officer (sounds like a set-up of a bar joke, doesn't it?) suddenly begin to suffer from panic attacks and phobias or experience paranormal activities. Never experiencing mental illness before, they find these episodes extremely disturbing. After a significantly long buildup, the writer receives a message on his computer to look to his past. These four begin to gravitate toward each other at the site of a previously-shared, out-of-this world experience.

One major issue that I had with this book was not the book itself, but the translation into audio. I did not like the choice of narrator, Dick Hill. His male voices were fine but I found his female and children voices difficult to listen to. One of the characters, the surgeon, was described as a extremely attractive Jewish female. However, her voice reminded me of Dustin Hoffman's Rainman character. Other characters' dialogue were stereotypical, a crook that sounded like a New Jersey mobster or the Marine officer with a bombastic voice.

Koontz could have benefited from a better editor. About two-thirds of the novel was character and situation development which I believed was too drawn out for little benefit. However, the climax made up for the long roller coaster ride up the incline.
1 review
September 1, 2014
Strangers is the kind of book that you'd enjoy if you read books that don't actually do anything. Strangers is around 700 pages, in which there where exactly two parts I actually found interesting, and they were both with the same character, Jack Twist. Aside from that, it's about 670 pages of talking, a random death of someone who doesn't matter and is never mentioned again, and hyping the finale of the book to be something great, which you better fuckin' believe that's the last thing it'll ever be. Dean Koontz, in his infinite writing wisdom, ended the book making it seem as though there'd be a sequel, which of course (and thank every deity I know) there isn't. Dean Koontz isn't a fan of killing off main characters, as every single one of the "Strangers" survives, and the only other important character is killed on page 630. On top of that bit of wondrous info, Dean states he wasn't sane when he wrote this absolutely incredible piece of literature. Strangers gets 1 star, entirely because that's as low as I'm allowed to make it. I was under the impression that I was reading book about aliens, since they hint at it a bunch throughout while at the same time not actually telling you jack or shit. Anyways, at the end of this garbage you find out that the Aliens were dead literally the entire fucking time, making all of this, a COMPLETE waste of my time. Strangers might not be the worst book written, since, to be fair, it was written well, he made it easy to picture what was happening. Although, thats all in waste because not a single god damn thing was worth picturing.

To sum it up, I hate this book. I hate it with a fiery passion.
I'm going to end it here, because I can, and don't need to explain anything further about this absolutely gripping novel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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