My husband and I recently took a trip to the library so he could feed his passion -- nonfiction -- while mine of course is fiction. As I looked around volume after volume of tomes, I did something unheard of, I checked out a book. As a writer, I prefer to buy my books and support the craft, but Dean Koontz' Your Heart Belongs to Me, virtually leapt off the shelf.
I have to say if I was judging this book from a writing contest perspective -- where many say: Is there a good balance between dialogue and narrative? -- I would have to score this book low. However, this book which is in a three-part series and full of mundane workings of a man awaiting a heart transplant held me spellbound.
Why? I've been contemplating that question for weeks. The book breaks every rule in Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel. We learn what he eats for breakfast, dinner and lunch, his preferences on TV, how much he sleeps, and yet I was flipping through pages.
The book is full of description of setting and yet I remember each and every detail as though I finished this book yesterday. When Koontz does slip into dialogue, which is flawless and natural, and changes scene to advance his plot, I'm there and my eyes are fixed on the page. His research was impeccable and I was in the head of a man who, although rich beyond words, was desperate to live, but vulnerable because he could lose it all literally with the end of a heartbeat.
The times his protagonist has an episode where you think he's about to have a heart attack, I was clenching my fist then taking my pulse. This book wasn't the typical Dean Koontz grab the reader by the throat and don't let him breathe until the last page thriller. It was more. In this reader's viewpoint Mr. Koontz practices psychological warfare on the purchaser. Which one of us us hasn't on occasion touched his chest for reassurance that his heart is still functioning properly?
On the cover jacket, one of the critics writes, Dean Koontz is a wordsmith.
This reader concurs. And that's why he was able to break every supposed writing rule in the book, and why this reader couldn't stop reading. In the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the contest I coordinate, one of the tie-breaking statements that exists on the score sheet reads: This manuscript is superb - masterfully written.
I now know the meaning of the statement. Your Heart Belongs to Me is such a book. Mr. Koontz, you're amazing.