I Yawned with Intensity: A review of Intensity by Dean Koontz

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Intensity. Fair use for review.

“It was bold, spicy, and made out of the stuff men need.” No that’s not from Dean Koontz’s Intensity but from the website of the beef jerky snack called Slim Jim, a snack that one of the store clerks in the book eats “daintily.” According to a WIRED video, a Slim Jim is “four inches of spicy, salted, processed meat, but is there actually beef inside the tiny stick? Well, that depends on your definition of meat.”

Is there anything worth reading in this 300 and some change pages of text? That depends on your definition of things worth reading. If your definition includes intense package labels, intense indices, and intense novels written by the hindquarters of donkeys, you’ll flip over this intense book.

Why did I read Intensity? Someone online wrote it was Koontz’s best, most…oh, I don’t care what third graders write in online reviews.

My version of Intensity was via the free Open Library so trees weren’t cut for no reason. By the way, can the rear end of a donkey actually write a book? Asking for a friend.

First, a few intense quotes you can use for office emails:

Chyna is “thinking furiously” although soon after “she had too much time to think.”

“Nothing was easy. Ever.”

Chyna “exhaled explosively.”

Chyna, having been beaten up and shackled, “ate now moaning with delight.”

Chyna “frightens herself.” Whatever that means. It’s probably intense.

That which flowed from Milton’s pen can only mimic such great, I mean intense phrases.

Now to the intense plot. Imagine two toddlers playing with cars in a sandbox. As they play they make up the next thing that happens with no particular reason.

An intense killer enters a house. Our intense protagonist, Chyna, sits on the perfectly made guest room bed in the dark until about one in the morning because she feels awkward about sleeping at her friend’s house. Meanwhile, in the quiet darkness, the killer does away with about everyone in the house except for Chyna and her friend who the killer kidnaps. Chyna hears the killer coming. She hides under the bed and sees his boot, but he doesn’t notice her. That’s a new one isn’t it.

It’s China with a Y, if you didn’t catch it. The killer stands in the house. Chyna runs around the house and then stands ten feet behind the killer but he doesn’t notice her. Then she again runs all around the house and this time, well he still doesn’t notice. She takes a butcher’s knife from a kitchen drawer and flees to a motor home parked outside where the killer has put her kidnapped friend. The killer comes to the intense motor home to drive it away. Don’t worry, he doesn’t notice Chyna. As he drives, Chyna keeps peeking at him but he doesn’t notice. We’re now up to about page 50 of 307.

The killer goes, intensely, to a gas station and walks inside the little store. Chyna drops her butcher’s knife and hides under the motor home. The killer walks out of the store. She runs into the gas station store and hides behind an aisle. The killer finds the knife and walks back into the store. She keeps peeking at him but he doesn’t notice. The killer does away with the store workers. He intensely shops around but doesn’t notice her. He drives off. She finds a gun and a car. Now we’re up to about page 100 of 307.

Chyna drives, intensely, after the killer. While driving she searches in the glove box and under the seat. A contortionist too! I was starting to get scared but the author tells us that the killer, “was driving under the posted speed limit.” Whew! I really hate reading about killers who speed because, you know, speeding is dangerous, plus it’s against the law.

Now the two characters play a bit of same direction road chicken. Here’s a freeway, a curve! Another curve! Another bend! That intense switch from curve to bend got you didn’t it?

Chyna cracks up her car. A chase in the woods ensues. She runs back to…take a guess, of course, the motor home. She gets into the cockpit. Who knew that motor homes were airplanes? She hides in the motor home. The killer enters and drives but he doesn’t notice her. Chyna sleeps in the motor home. Obviously, that’s what everyone does when stuck in a motor home with a maniacal killer. The killer parks the motor home in his intense barn and goes into his intense house, and guess what? Yep, Chyna goes into his intense house too. And guess where she immediately goes? That’s right, the intense cellar. We’re at about page 150 of 300. We’re half way done this hideous headless chicken of a book.

They fight in the kitchen, he wins. Chyna is shackled to an armchair. The killer chops a Bermuda onion. They talk for 20, 30, 40, 50 pages, I lost my vision at least twice during that dull marathon. The killer finally makes her a cheese sandwich. The killer leaves for his job. Chyna manages to walk around still shackled to a chair. Chyna rummages in the kitchen and finds a poultry strut. A what? It doesn’t matter, it won’t pick the lock. We’re now up to about page 225 of 300.

Where to now? Oh yes, back down to the cellar. 20 or so pages later she’s broken the chair and drilled the lock of the shackles. She finds her kidnapped friend. They talk. Chyna drills off her friend’s manacles. They talk.

Chyna now takes on the killers many trained Dobermans. We’re nearing the end. Another doberman! What to do? ”She could have jabbed at the Doberman with the wooden handle when it attacked. She might even have been able to hurt it if she poked hard enough. But the mop was beyond reach.” Darn it. To be honest she might have teleported herself and friend out of there, but teleportation hadn’t been invented yet. Darn it again. Chyna still fights the Dobermans. Finally she takes the motor home. On the intense road again. A cop stops her — It’s the intense killer! Never saw that coming did you?

He shoots but of course misses. Here’s an intense passage, “She tried to count the shots. She thought she heard six. Maybe only five. She wasn’t sure. Damn.” Doesn’t this seem familiar, like in a 1971 movie way: Harry Callahan: “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five’? Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”

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Dirty Harry movie poster. Fair use for review.

Chyna floors the motor home intensely. She runs over the heel of the killer’s boot. I kid you not. Pretty intense that it’s only the heel. Just to mention, Mario Chuloff runs a little shoe repair business at the Dayton Mall and he can replace heels on boots in a day or two for a reasonable price. Save the chit. A few pages to go now. Gasoline drips intensely. You can guess the intense rest of what happens to the killer.

After this I was going to read another intensely thrilling Dean Koontz book so I browsed Amazon where a recommendation for a 3lb bucket of Crisco popped up that looked pretty tempting and I thought, ‘it will go down easier than a book by Koontz and when I’m done I’ll feel about the same.’ I’m about half way done it as I write this. Zero stars out of 100. Too intense for me.


(1) What’s Inside: A Slim Jim-WIRED. Found online at

Novelist, poet, a post-studio visual artist, and the founder of The Invisible Art Collective International. Recent novels include “Sundre” and “Garbage Head.”

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