Intensity by Dean Koontz
Headline (paperback), 1987
Intensity is one of my favourite books. I read it several times when I was younger, the last time seventeen years ago in my senior year at high school. I read the book for higher English and wrote a book review for which I earned an A. Over the years, other books came along and I forgot all about this book.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Edgler Vess is a sociopath intent on murder. He lives for one purpose only: to satisfy all appetites as they arise, seeking ever more outrageous experience. To live with intensity.
When he attacks her friend, Laura, Chyna Shepherd is saved by the instincts developed during a dark and turbulent childhood. Not knowing Laura is already dead, Chyna follows, hoping to save her friend, as Vess carries her body to his motor home – a dungeon and morgue on wheels. The killer, unaware of her presence, drives away. But Chyna is now trapped in his dangerous orbit.
Her sole aim is to get out alive, but when she learns the identity of the killer’s next intended victim, she knows she must act to save that precious life – and take risks beyond any that she ever imagined she could endure.
The red sun balances on the highest ramparts of the mountains, and in its waning light, the foothills appear to be ablaze. A cool breeze blows down out of the sun and fans through the tall, dry grass, which streams like waves of golden fire along the slopes towards the rich and shadowed valley.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Intensity is an example of Dean Koontz at his finest. Vess is a brilliant villain – calculating, manipulative, disturbed and someone who cares nothing for other people. I forgot how creepy and unsettling he is; my skin crawled as I read about his nefarious deeds. The best Vess scene is at the petrol station when he casually reveals that he’s keeping a seventeen-year-old girl prisoner in his basement before slaughtering everyone. Chyna is a great heroine. She’s incredibly brave, far braver and stronger than I could ever be. She’s sort of fearless as well when she goes after Vess after overhearing him boast about his prisoner at the petrol station. She knows she needs to save the girl because no one else knows of her existence; well no one alive anyway. Ariel is a great character as well, and her catatonic state after being locked in a sociopath’s basement for a year, the same sociopath who slaughtered her family is heartbreaking. In this book, good triumphs over evil and I loved the way the book ends. This is still a great book, all these years after I first read it.