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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The City

ISBN: 9780345545930

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 7/1/2014

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz is at the peak of his acclaimed powers with this major new novel.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.

My Review

Without a doubt, THE CITY is the most powerful and complex book I have ever read. I am speechless! Dean Koontz writes like no other. Brilliant, profound, and eloquently written. A literary work of art!

THE CITY by Dean Koontz, is a rich, multi-layered gripping story that moves back and forth across decades and generations, as a gifted musician relates the horrible and beautiful events that began in his city in 1967, when he was ten.

Told in the first person, a story of musical prodigy, Jonah Kirk –taking readers into one man's world from struggles to an extraordinary gift—a journey often seemed lost, threatened, or unattainable.

Jonah is black, a musician and a piano prodigy. Malcom is white and his best friend, also a saxophone prodigy. They meet in 1967, when Jonah and his mom, Sylvia moved in with Jonah’s grandfather, across the street from Malcom’s family. Jonah is ten and Malcom, twelve.

Jonah is eccentric, talented, smart, and intuitive and Malcom is a talented, comedian, and geek misfit. Together they make a dynamic duo of music, mischief, and dreams---They will learn about the city.

THE CITY is more about Jonah, even though Malcom and his sister are part of the book, as well, from THE NEIGHBOR, an e-short story (I would highly recommend), giving readers a little background of Malcom Pomerantz.

They grow up friends, and at age fifty-seven and fifty-nine, Jonah tells his story into a tape recorder—his story will become THE CITY, starting back before age seven.

The main theme of the novel is the meaning of THE CITY People: Jonah encounters a woman who said she is the City (Miss Pearl), a soul of the city and gives Jonah a piano when he desperately needed one. She said that more than anything, cities are people. She said you need to have office buildings, parks, nightclubs, and museums and all the rest, but in the end it’s the people—and the kind of people they are—who make a city great or not. If a city is great, it has a soul of its own.

This woman said this city had an especially sensitive soul and that for a long time it had wondered what life must be like for the people who lived in it. And so the woman said the soul of the city took human form, to live among its people and the form it took was her.

Life is not one story, its thousands of them. When Jonah was ten in 1967 he moved with his mom into his Grandpa’s Teddy’s house—he was the piano man, his inspiration, kind and loving. His mom, Sylvia, was a singer in a blues club and worked the lunch counter at Woolworth’s five days a week.

Before moving to Jonah’s grandparents, the book begins at an apartment building, where he lived with him mom in downtown Detroit. Jonah meets his neighbors in a coming-of-age novel, which will move your heart from dark, humorous, eccentric, supernatural, lovable, mysterious, intense, and thought-providing. One of the neighbors, (Mr. Yoshioka--my favorite) he befriends, will forever change the course of his life. He also meets some, not so pleasant characters, in a city full of evil.

The streets of the city are not always paved with gold, as some immigrants were told before they traveled half the world to come to the city. Death dwelt in the metropolis, as it dwelt everywhere and there were more murders in the city, tragedy, and moments of terror. But the city was as well as place of family, friends, wonder, art, music, love.

After years of good times, Jonah had a bad patch. He learns life does not always run smooth during your life, and no one promises it will. Through wars, riots, racial issues, murder and mayhem and much hatred and threat of nuclear annihilation—of the sixties; comes sweet music from big band swing, boogie, rock and roll, jazz, good books, and some hard learned life lessons, good friends, plus some wild and dangerous adventures—of one special boy and his family.

“No matter what happens disaster piled on calamity, no matter what, everything will be okay in the long run.”

What matters is the day at hand, and what we do with it, one day at a time, some good and some bad; What should we do with the day? What direction is the one to take, which choice is right and which wrong?

Jonah learns in the end --he has free will, that what happens in his city, is up to him and all the people who live along the streets, that part is up to us.

In summary: In our lives, we come to moments of great significance that we fail to recognize, the meaning of which does not occur to us for many years. Each of us has his agenda and focuses on it, and therefore we are often blind to what is before our eyes.

An unforgettable, compelling, and unique story—one for every woman and man, where life’s treasures is found in unexpected places. THE CITY is much more than than a mystery or suspense thriller—one, which will remain with you, long after the book ends.

Highly recommend both books as 5 star winners. Believe it or not, these two are my first books by Koontz, and most definitely will not be my last!

Loved this quote from THE CITY:

“At first I had seen a confusing agglomeration of angled shapes thrusting toward me, but then they resolved into the skyscrapers of a city in miniature, and I was gazing down through those buildings into a maze of busy streets. Gazing down and then falling down, not with fear but with exhilaration, swooping between those glittering towers, flying as sometimes I had flown in good dreams.

The city was no longer a miniature, it was real and vast, borderless, reaching to infinity, filled with gorgeous and mysterious light. I flew low, near street level, along avenue after avenue alive with busy people, and I began to realize that the mysterious light came from them, that it came from me too, that we were the people of the city and the light of the city, flickering like endless tiers of candles in endless cups. And suddenly I saw the city in time, backward to its origins and forward through centuries, as it had been and as it would be, all existing now, and in every age, those ancient and those of the future, the lovely light did shine, our light.”

A special thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 500 million copies to date.

ourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, Relentless, What the Night Knows, and 77 Shadow Street), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Sixteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.

The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”

Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.

Dean Koontz lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna. WEBSITE






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