I feel like I should preface this review with an admission: I was predisposed to love Devoted by Dean Koontz. His earlier novel, Watchers, is one of my all-time faves, and this one is similar in subject matter: a golden retriever who is more than he appears to be is up against a monstrous experiment gone wrong in a battle of good versus evil.
Circling back to my predisposition to love this newer novel, my family has always had dogs. One of them was the most wonderful golden retriever named Teddy. Goldens as a breed tend to be the canine equivalent of a warm hug and Ted had a genius for going to the person in the room who needed comfort – even if they didn’t know it themselves. He could also jump like Michael Jordan and loved to chase tennis balls (preferably two or three at a time). My love for Teddy makes me predisposed to like any Golden, and Kipp, the golden in Devoted, is no exception. He can read and write English in addition to being very empathetic with his human. He’s also telepathic with other dogs.
One day Kipp realizes he’s hearing a new voice and that it’s a human boy. This is unprecedented but exciting. He doesn’t think the boy realizes he’s transmitting though. At the same time, he’s saying good-bye to his human, Dorothy, as she loses her battle with cancer.
The boy, Woody, is an individual diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism. He’s never spoken a word. His mother Megan is a gifted painter who has really found her gift in the wake of her husband’s death at a young age. Megan is stunned when a guy she dated for five minutes in college calls her out of the blue and really creeps her out.
Things spiral out of control quickly. The entire novel is tightly written and takes place in a handful of days. There are layers upon layers of connections. I’m not going to say anything more about the plot – I want you to experience it for yourself. It’s a pretty quick read and would be excellent for the beach or vacation, or even just a weekend. That said, while Devoted is not up to the Watchers standard, it IS a love letter to dogs. I recommend it if you like a good thriller, dogs, or dogs in a thriller.