Dean Koontz’s ‘The City’ Is Not Really A City – Or Is It? [REVIEW]

Some people believe that you can tell a lot about a person by their name. In Dean Koontz’s latest novel, The City, this is particularly true.

The City


From the very first sentence, I was drawn into the wondrous world of The City, as we met the story’s hero. “My name is Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk,” the book begins.

Jonah truly lives up to his name. He plays for pure pleasure, but also realizes that music means different things to people. “I understood for the first time why music matters so much, how it reminds us of who we are and where we came from, of all the good times and the sadness, too”(45). Mature words from someone so young.

Jonah matures greatly over the course of this novel, which is particularly evident as we read his thoughts on life. “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” (393). How true this is for Jonah who reflects upon the events and people who influence his life in surprising ways, as did his friend, Mr. Yoshioka. Sometimes all it takes is sharing a plate of cookies.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz (Photo courtesy Thomas Engstrom)

I absolutely fell in love with is Mr. Yoshioka. He is Jonah’s upstairs neighbor on the fifth floor. At first, we don’t know much about him but gradually Koontz reveals that his family was killed in Manzanar. Mr. Yoshioka tells Jonah that he understands his fear, anger and guilt, but he goes on to explain that one must not allow these emotions to consume him because it will block the good things from entering his life.

In another particularly prescient scene, Mr. Yoshioka refers to the rain as a special friend. “It has such a soft voice, and if you talk to the rain, it always agrees with anything you say. Yesss, yesss, yesss, yesss. It cannot make the sound of no. The rain is a most aggreeable companion.” I will remember this passage the next time I hear the rain.

The City is populated by many more characters such as Malcolm, Grandpa Teddy and Amalia who are integral to Jonah’s growth as a boy. I encourage you to read this lyrical story because I bet Dean Koontz‘s The City will change you and the way you view your life.

As originally featured on 

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: