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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Koontz’

Reader’s Guide: Discussion Questions for Dean Koontz’s THE CITY

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Koontz_TheCity Diving into the latest Koontz this summer? Join us with these questions and topics for discussion. Happy Reading!

1. Jonah recounts his story beginning when he’s eight years old, but in present time, he’s an older man reflecting on and retelling the story of his childhood self. How do you think time and distance have affected Jonah’s retelling of his story? Do you find that the more time you are removed from experiences in your own life, your story—or your view of it—changes? If so, how? What advantages, and challenges, might telling the story from such a perspective bring to an author?

2. Jonah begins his story asserting: “The last thing I am is a closet pessimist. I’m an optimist and always have been. Life’s given me no reason to expect the worst.” As you read, you learn that Jonah’s life hasn’t exactly been easy and he’s experienced real tragedy. Why do you think he’s such an optimist? Which relationships in his life contribute to that? Do you find that your own difficult life experiences make you more optimistic, or conversely, more pessimistic?

3. Both Jonah’s grandfather and Mr. Yoshioka serve as father figures to him. How are their ways of relating to him similar? How different? What are the most important lessons and examples that each impart? What scenes best captured these central relationships? Describe Jonah’s relationship with his mother. What makes their relationship so special? What scenes between them did you find most telling? Most affecting? Do you see such a mother-child relationship reflected in other works of literature? In your experience?

4. Jonah calls his narration an “oral history,” as he’s recording himself “shooting off his mouth.” How do you feel about Jonah as a narrator? Did knowing that his recitation is meant to be more conversational than formal color your relationship with the story in any way? Do you feel more affected by a story told from such an intimate point of view, rather than a story told at a remove, say by an omniscient narrator? How would the story have changed, told from another perspective? Jonah also admits that he plans to edit his recording to “spare the reader all the you-knows and uhs and dead-end sentences, also to make myself sound smarter than I really am.” He says this in jest, but in what ways might we all be guilty of editing our own stories? Consider the way we present ourselves through social media and online profiles. Did this admission make Jonah any less trustworthy as a narrator, considering the things we might leave out of our own narratives? Or did it make him more authentic?

5. Music is such a powerful, pervasive, magical part of this story, and there’s a scintillating soundtrack in the background, transporting us to another time. How did this contribute to your reading experience? What types of music do you envision might reflect Jonah’s later life? Consider what music means to you. What songs or styles of music might comprise the score for the movie of your life?

6. Thinking back, Jonah says, “all children are prone to voodoo thinking because they’re essentially powerless and because they lack so much knowledge of how the world works….” Jonah, of course, believes in juju to some extent, deeming his pendant capable of providing the “ultimate protection,” and safeguarding treasured objects in the La Florentine box. Did you have any of your own superstitions as a child? Ones that may seem silly now or that you still cling to in whatever way? Did you have your own “La Florentine box” and if so, what are some of the objects you valued most dearly? How did Jonah’s beliefs play out thematically in the book? Is there a connection between these so-called “childish” beliefs and belief of a deeper nature, as reflected by Miss Pearl?

7. The “all-seeing eye” is a major theme throughout the novel. There’s the faux eye that must have sprung from a stuffed toy, which Jonah keeps, sensing it has “some ominous significance”; there’s the magazine clipping that Fiona Cassidy contributed to Jonah’s box, having drawn in the eyes with a color that matched her own; and there’s the Fabritius painting, The Goldfinch, the eye of which Jonah feels all of nature peering through, seeing all sides of him and all the lies he’s ever told. In each case, Jonah feels equally unnerved, as though these eyes are portals through which some presence can analyze and judge him. Does he seem to feel the same anxiety when being viewed through each set, or is there an important difference between them? In some ways, do you think he’s attributing his own self-reflection to these “artificial eyes?” Have you ever encountered a set of “eyes” that provoked something in you in the same way? That made you uncomfortable or brought you face-to-face with a truth you wouldn’t have seen otherwise? Can you name similar symbols in other works of literature?

8. What did you make of the haikus strewn throughout the novel? Were you surprised by how moments of great joy and sorrow are captured so sparingly? How did this help put order and simplicity in Jonah’s world, as he was coming of age during a time of such turmoil? What lessons did they instill? Was there one poem in particular that stood out as especially inspirational or beautiful?

9. Jonah remarks on the fact that there weren’t many heroes for him to emulate growing up, as most prominent African Americans in pop culture were either sports stars or musicians, never the champions who took down the bad guys, and “taking down bad guys is fundamentally what you want in your model of a hero.” That definition changes for him over time, and the everyday heroes he comes to worship include his mother, his grandfather, Mr. Yoshioka, and Vermeer, to name a few. How do these figures influence the person he becomes, enabling him to persevere in the face of hardships and ultimately inspiring him to maintain his optimism where others might have given up under the circumstances? Do you have your own unsung heroes who’ve inspired you to do the same? In what ways does the influence of such individuals ripple outward, extending beyond their immediate circles to the wider world, in the novel and in reality?

10. Consider the role of race and identity throughout the narrative, and what it means to different characters. Think about Jonah’s narration as an African American boy coming of age during a time of national unrest, when race riots were the norm. What special insights into the era did you gain from Jonah’s unique perspective? Did anything about his attitude or his family’s attitude about race surprise you? What did you make of Mr. Yoshioka’s Manzanar “posse” and the relationships among them? How did the core values of the various characters inform their approach to this element of their lives?

11. The question of fate versus free will takes center stage in this novel, with Jonah coming to believe that “There is no fate, only free will.” Consider the instance in which he decided to see for himself who Tilton was eating lunch with at The Royal, and wondered what course his life would have taken if he had followed his instinct to run instead. Have you ever been at a crossroad in your life where events could have gone very differently had you taken the road untraveled? Do you consider the outcome of these instances fate, or like Jonah, do you believe that it was one of the times that you listened to the “small voice” that “wants only what is best for us?” What are other critical moments of decision in the novel? How did you feel about the fates of the various characters? What did you make of Miss Pearl’s special relationship with Jonah and her actions toward him at the end of the novel in terms of the question of destiny?

12. On the interpretation of art, Amalia says, “when it comes to what it means, no stuffy expert in the world has a right to tell you what you should think about a painting. Art is subjective. Whatever comfort or delight you get from a painting is your business.” Do you agree with this? Do you think there’s a tendency for people to find art intimidating or prohibitive because they’re supposed to take a specific meaning away from it, or arrive at it with some type of context? Is it liberating to embrace this idea that art should stand on its own and that we gravitate toward certain pieces for a reason? Are there works that you’ve found particularly evocative or moving based on your own experience at any given time? Has there been someone in your own life responsible for introducing you to beauty in the same way that Amalia does for Jonah? Do you see the world of art, or music, or architecture, or other forms of artistic expression, any differently because of this story?

Giveaway Opportunity: THE CITY by Dean Koontz

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Koontz_TheCity Calling all Dean Koontz fans! You can be the envy of your book club if you’re one of the lucky winners to receive an advance copy of bestselling author Dean Koontz’s The City.

Enter here for your chance to win!

The city changed my life and showed me that the world is deeply mysterious. I need to tell you about her and some terrible things and wonderful things and amazing things that happened . . . and how I am still haunted by them. Including one night when I died and woke and lived again.

Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.

The unforgettable saga of a young man coming of age within a remarkable family, and a shimmering portrait of the world that shaped him, The City is a novel that speaks to everyone, a dazzling realization of the evergreen dreams we all share. Brilliantly illumined by magic dark and light, it’s a place where enchantment and malice entwine, courage and honor are found in the most unexpected quarters, and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

Enter here for your chance to win!

Need more Dean? Never fear! You can stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out his website for more updates this summer.

Reader’s Guide: INNOCENCE by Dean Koontz

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Koontz_Innocence In Innocence, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What do you make of the epigraph by Petrarch, “Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together?” Would you agree with this statement? How does it play out in the novel? What other juxtaposed qualities figure into the story—for example, arrogance versus humility—and what do these themes imply about human nature and our world at large? How did the epigraph inform your idea of the story at the onset, and did that idea take on new meaning by the end?

2. What does Addison mean when he says to Gwyneth: “We hold each other hostage to our eccentricities.”? Do you find this applicable to your own relationships?

3. Gwyneth wears a nose ring fashioned as a snake devouring its own tail, which is a commonly recognized symbol of recurrence, recreation and renewal, or the emergence of an inextinguishable primordial force. In what ways do we see that meaning manifest in the story?

4. Both Addison and Gwyneth cloak themselves in an attempt to go largely unnoticed. While Addison perceives Gwyneth’s Goth look more as a type of courage than a costume, his own cover is necessary to ensure his very survival. But as Addison notes, there are others who hide their “corruption and pitiless cruelty” behind masks of their own creation. Discuss the importance of veils and how they are applied throughout the novel. Does this seem to imply that everyone has something to hide from the outside world? What qualities do you feel are most reviled (and thus concealed) and most celebrated in our contemporary world and how is this reflected in the novel?

5. Addison says of Gwyneth that “although she led a severely circumscribed life…she had vastly more experience than I.” Why is it that Gwyneth seems not only more in tune with the workings of the world, but primed to confront the evils within it, when both she and Addison have been exposed to its horrors in equal amounts? How are their attitudes toward the world both similar and different, and what influences have shaped them to that end?

6. Do you agree with Father’s theory that “there is no chance” in the universe, “only choice, no luck, but only consequences,” that what happens to us is of “our own election”? How does this belief change Addison’s perspective and guide his decisions from then on? Do you feel that Father is less innocent than Addison?

7. Addison describes Father’s sacrifice and says “knowing how the sight of his face and eyes would consume their attention, he offered his life for mine, and when he said ‘Endure,’ he meant many things.” What things did Father mean? What enables Addison to go on in the wake of such a loss, and do you think he would have continued to endure indefinitely on his own?

8. Addison says that “although this story is of the Modern Age, I have not written it for the Modern Age.” What does he mean by this and who is his intended audience?

9. Throughout the book, Addison mentions his “terrible difference” and when asked what he is, Addison calls himself “a miscreation, freak, abomination.” What did you think this “terrible difference” was and why? Were you surprised by what it was revealed to be?

10. Discuss the marionettes and Father’s theory about the Princess and Frog music box and similar objects. Do you feel that the creative spirit behind works of art—whether transcendent or transgressive—manifests itself in the wider world?

11. The interconnectedness of all things is a major theme of Innocence. What elements of the story most vividly illustrated that theme for you?

12. Ultimately, do you think this is a cautionary tale or a message of hope?

Giveaway Opportunity: INNOCENCE by Dean Koontz

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Koontz_InnocenceRarely do writers with long-established templates for success break out of the mold to create something entirely fresh, even game-changing. But, Dean Koontz has done this with Innocence. Rich in atmosphere, mystery, and romance, it is heartbreaking yet life-affirming, with a young protagonist who will win your heart and maybe even prompt you to look at the world in a whole new way. Dean has said this is one of his personal favorites of all his books. We think it will become yours, too.

In a dark world, they light each other’s way.

He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen. She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found. But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching. In Innocence, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.

“A rarity among bestselling writers, Koontz continues to pursue new ways of telling stories, never content with repeating himself.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“[Koontz] has always had near-Dickensian powers of description, and an ability to yank us from one page to the next that few novelists can match.”—Los Angeles Times

“Koontz is a superb plotter and wordsmith. He chronicles the hopes and fears of our time in broad strokes and fine detail, using popular fiction to explore the human condition.”—USA Today

“Characters and the search for meaning, exquisitely crafted, are the soul of [Koontz’s] work. . . . One of the master storytellers of this or any age.”—The Tampa Tribune

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BOOK CLUB GIVEAWAY: ODD THOMAS will give your book club plenty to talk about…

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Koontz_OddThomas_promoMM-female-1We always enjoy hosting giveaways to bring you our favorite titles that are full of topics your book club will be dying to discuss. Now, we’re thrilled to offer an even bigger giveaway: you can enter for a chance to win a book for yourself and up to 15 members of your book club! Together, you all can discover ODD THOMAS, the first book in the beloved series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz.

Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death, who along with his soul mate Stormy Llewellyn, opens up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

“Terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love.”
— Publishers Weekly

Enter for a chance to win up to 15 copies for your entire book club!

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