‘Watchers’ by Dean Koontz
‘Watchers’ was my first favorite novel ever. I read it when I was 15 and thought it was absolutely lovely and horrifying and the same time. Now I felt it was time for a reread, because ‘Watchers’ isn’t just any mystery/horror/thriller-novel. It’s actually characterized as Dean Koontz best novel, by readers all over the world.
A top secret lab in California has created two DNA altered animals — a good one, and a bad one — both with human-like intelligence.
They are supposed to be set in by the Government in war operations. But something goes wrong. The first animal — the good one — a cute Golden Retriever, escapes the lab, and the bad one follows; most of all because it hates the Golden Retriever so much.
But before the bad creature reaches and kills the Retriever, the dog is picked up as a stray by a man named Travis Cornel, who by coincidence just happens to be in the same forest as the dog and the creature.
Soon Travis learns the that Golden Retriever’s intelligence is comparable to man’s, so Travis calls him Einstein, and for one time in his life, Travis thinks he has been lucky; gifted with this new, adorable life companion. He wants to keep Einstein forever, but the harmony doesn’t last long.
The creature hunts Einstein, the Government seeks both Einstein and the creature, and finally a serial killer is very busy taking lives of all the people who created the two special animals in the first place.
Excerpt from ‘Watchers’
He was sure that he was not the cause of the abrupt silence. His passage through the canyon had not previously disturbed either birds or cicadas. Something was out there. An intruder of which the ordinary forest creatures clearly did not approve. He took a deep breath and held it again, straining to hear the slightest movement in the woods. This time he detected the rustle of brush, a snapping twig, the soft crunch of dry leaves—and the unnervingly peculiar, heavy, ragged breathing of something big.
Both horrifying and warm
‘Watchers’ is one of Koontz’ most famous classics, it’s from 1987, and it is both a wonderfully dark story when the creature — later called ‘The Outsider’ — operates in horrific ways, and it’s a funny – a bit romantic – and a heartwarming story for all dog lovers.
The point of view changes between almost ten characters, throughout the whole novel, and several times in each chapter, too, so it takes a lot of patience and concentration to put all the pieces together. But it’s well rewarded, if you keep on going.
Liked the serial killer
I guess most people have Einstein as their favourite character, but I must admit that the gruesome serial killer was so well prepared that I could help to like him, too. The love story didn’t work for me though, because Nora, the lady that Travis falls in love with, has lived isolated for so many years, that she seems a bit … well, not so clever as neither Travis or Einstein. And since they are a threesome throughout most of the novel, it was quite annoying.
Don’t be home alone
Still, ‘Watchers’ is a great read. The set up and the plot are very unique, and I have never read a mystery/horror/thriller novel, where the dog was the protagonist in a realistic way. So don’t be afraid Einstein is a modern ‘Lazzie’ (fictional female collie dog character created by Eric Knight) that catches criminals just by barking, he is not!
But be afraid of The Outsider. And don’t be home alone reading the scenes where it hunt two police officers! They are the most scary parts I have read in a book — ever!
Excerpt from ‘Watchers’
Einstein vigorously wagged his tail. Thoughtfully, Nora said, “Escaped . . .” Travis knew what she must be thinking. To Einstein, he said, “They’ll be looking for you, won’t they?” The dog whined and wagged his tail—which Travis interpreted as a “yes” with a special edge of anxiety.