Before you begin reading this, be aware that it's entirely possible that I will accidentally ruin the entire book. I just have no clue how to talk about The House of Thunder without indulging the twist.
The House of Thunder opens with Susan waking up after a 3 week coma following a car accident. She is a patient in a small hospital in Oregon and at first she finds nothing to be alarmed by...aside from losing three weeks of her life of course. Being a Dean Koontz book though, it's only a matter of time before we realize that things are much more sinister than they first appear. We quickly learn that Susan is suffering from mild amnesia...as in she remembers almost everything about her life and past except for everything involving her job as a Physicist....and then her horrifying past catches up to her in the form of terrifying halluncinations. And Susan begins to question whether she is really a patient in a hospital or if something much more sinister is going on.
Up until this point I found myself flying through this book, anxious to figure out what was happening. I had my suspicions and for about five seconds I had the satisfaction of being right...and then everything turned again and what seemed like a really fun and creepy read turned into a total WTF moment....and it was NOT a good WTF moment.
Now, I guess to be fair The House of Thunder took place in 1980...right in the heart of The Cold War. And I guess even Dean Koontz wasn't immune to buying into the anti Russian sentiments of the time. So I guess that at the time The House of Thunder was originally released, it actually seemed like a cutting edge thriller. Now though, over 30 years later...it does not work. At all.
As if the ending itself was bad, the pacing was probably even worse...waiting for the final 20 pages and then rushing through the explanation of everything just does not work, it made absolutely no sense...especially after such a great set up to the end. Reading it, you have to wonder if perhaps Dean Koontz started out writing something entirely different...but at the last minute took his story in some entirely new direction and instead of taking the time to let the story develop in that vein, realized that he was too close to his deadline to finish the book in the way it needed to be ended.
I gave The House of Thunder three stars as until the end, I was enjoying it. It was creepy and fun to read and I did enjoy getting surprised at the end...despite being completely disappointed with the ending.