Progress was real progress only when it evolved naturally and thoughtfully from the history of human experience and accumulated wisdom. When it was imposed in contempt for that experience and wisdom, then progress was in fact radical destruction.
Woodrow “Woody” Bookman, an eleven-year-old genius, is the central character of Dean Koontz’s latest novel, Devoted. He is also autistic; he has never spoken a word. His beautiful mother Megan, an artist and a widow, adores him and lives for him. She does not know that her boy has been doing research on the Dark Web, trying to uncover the truth behind the death of his father. Jason Bookman did not die by accident; he was murdered by his employers.
Kipp is a Golden Labrador who possesses the full intelligence of a human being. There are a number of such dogs living around the west coast. They communicate telepathically with one another on what they call “the Wire.” Most of them keep their intelligence a secret from their owners, but Kipp has revealed himself to his elderly owner Dorothy, who has invented a device that allows him to “type” messages to her. But Dorothy is dying, and Kipp isn’t sure what his future will be.
Lee Shackett is an executive for the company that killed Jason Bookman. They’re a multinational high-tech business, doing secret research on life extension and transhumanism. When the facility where he works is destroyed in an accident, Lee manages to escape. He’s not concerned; he has money squirreled away to finance a new life in Costa Rica. But Lee was contaminated in the accident; his body and his brain are beginning to change. He becomes convinced that he has one piece of business he needs to clear up before making his escape. He has to find the one girl who rejected him, the one he never got over, and make her his slave. That girl is now Megan Bookman, mother of Woody.
Dean Koontz knows his business as a thriller writer. He knows exactly how to push the reader’s buttons. He serves up good characters you fall in love with, and then (like Hitchkock) puts them in deadly peril from his evil characters, detailing the horrors the villain plans for them. The tension can be nearly unbearable.
I wouldn’t say Devoted is the best of Koontz’s works. There were a lot of familiar tropes here, and I found the story a little manipulative. But it also made me laugh and cry, so it was effective in its manipulation. There are some genuine great moments here. The conclusion of the story was a little problematic for the theological thinker, but can (I think) be taken as a parable.
Recommended for older teens and up. Cautions for intense scenes and adult themes.