Frankenstein: The Dead Town by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz caps off his Frankenstein series with this fifth and final volume. The conceit of this series is that the Frankenstein myth is -- in essence -- true. The monster, when first animated by lightning, had been granted knowledge of the "quantum structure of reality" -- an innate knowledge of the fabric of the universe. This allows the monster, now known as Deucalion, to travel instanly anywhere in the world. Over the years the monster has (figuratively, if not literally) gained a soul and a conscience.
Victor Frankenstein, however, has descended into madness. A true genius, Frankenstein has been able to prolong his life and to create many other replicants -- all preternatually strong and programmed to obey only Frankenstein's will. In earlier books, Deucalion and two New Orleans policemen, Carson O'Connor and Michael Maddison, where able to destroy Frankenstein and his large factory. Victor Frankenstein, however, had been able to clone himself, imprinting his new version with a hatred of life and a determination to rid the earth of all life, including, eventually, himself. To that end the clone, now known as Victor Leben, has created two types of replicants -- Communitarians, designed to be perfect replicas of individual persons, and Builders, which absorb and break people down into component atoms to create further replicants.
The dead town of the title is Rainbow Falls, Montana, where Victor Leben has begun his war on humanity. Every person in the town is slated to be destroyed and replaced by Victor's creations, which will then travel to other places, creating a snowball effect of annilhilation. In typical Koontz fashion, the major players represent a cross-section of humanity, where the good guys shine brightly and some of the least among us shine the brightest. Presented in short spurts -- 65 chapters in 402 pages -- Koontz jumps from protagonist to protagonist, keeping the suspense going full-steam, adding seemingly insurmountable difficulties, while hitting us over the head with the redeeming qualities of the various heroes.
Koontz finds a sort of godhood in his protagonists. For Koontz, the universe is a place of miracles and grace for those who are attuned to it -- which is kinda cool if you think about it for a minute and is kinda not so much if you think about it for more than a minute. The author's stock players (Red-Shirts to those who follow Star Trek) die horrible and agonizing deaths which they do not deserve. But all works out well for the heroes and (usually) their dog. Koontz is a good author who uses all his tricks to carry the reader along for a 402-page thrill ride. The ride is exciting, but after the ride, the reader is left wonder, is that all there is?