By Dean Koontz

157,985 ratings - 4.18* vote

From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose…Bestselling author Dean Koontz presents his most terrifying, dramatic and moving novel: The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless sto From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of

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Book details

Paperback, 624 pages
January 28th 2003 by Berkley

(first published February 2nd 1987)

Original Title
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

I haven't read Dean Koontz in years. I don't think I've missed much after reading this one though. BUT some of my other buddy readers think differently. They are wrong.
Dean Koontz can't even wash his panties in the same room with Stephen King.
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Now that I've put that image in your head, I'll ramble some about the book. You have this lab who had been creating super smart critters to fight. They never really tell how so don't be getting your sciency on for this one. There is a hit man who is offing the scientist so that might be why Koontz doesn't tell us. Who knows?
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I wanted at least a pretense of explanation. The lab has 'sired' a super smart dog and that other thing. The Outsider.
Then enter the guy character. He was sorta alright but not a character that would stick out in my head. For ex-Delta force I really expected a whole lot more bad-ass than he was.
Enter in Nora, she has lived her whole sheltered life in her mean old aunt's shadow. She has had really no contact with the outside world and is introverted as all get out. For about five minutes, because once she meets the guy she is the most beautiful woman ever and everyone wants to bang her.
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All these characters are pretty annoying. The only ones I liked? The Outsider and the Dog, Einstein. I do think Einstein should have been a chihuahua though.
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Chihuahuas rock. I have three and then I have the boy child's dog. (That's a whole nuther story on that one though.) But chihuahuas would have gotten this book an extra star from me. Because see how smart they are? (Blatant promotion of my own dogs coming here)
Faking sleep when tries to be made to go outside and pee in the rain: Smart!
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Being Spider-Dog to try and jump in mom's plate of food: Smart!
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Interupting mom's selfie taking to crawl on her shoulder wanting in the pic? Not really smart but you can't win them all.
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Then the Outsider.
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I wish he had ate perfect Nora and the guy and went on to make sciency babies with the dog, while they watched Mickey Mouse videos. Total win that would have been!
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I read this as a buddy read with Delee, Stepheny, 2.0, Ed and Kelly.
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Emily May

I know this is a classic for many readers but I expected more, honestly. Watchers is my first read by Koontz so I have nothing to compare it to, but my first wander into his mind was disappointing. And a little weird.

It could partly be that this particular book doesn't withstand the test of time. There are definitely aspects that feel dated (I got a bit of shock when I realized how long ago 1987 actually was!). Even the array of stereotypical characters here felt old-fashioned-- ex soldier hero, abused beautiful damsel, cold-blooded psychopath, and a super precocious dog.

Admittedly, these days you cannot possibly meet a beautiful damsel in a thriller without her being behind it all, but I'd rather that than this sheltered abused beautiful virgin who is oblivious to her beauty and quickly breaks through her abuse trauma to aid Travis. And isn't it also very convenient that no one in this book has a job to go to because of inheritance, investments, or a mysterious caller who pays you to off people?

Watchers is about Travis (ex-soldier), Nora (damsel), Vince Nasco (hitman) and Einstein (the dog). Koontz takes us through several different perspectives and gradually (read: very slowly) uncovers the story about what is going on at Banodyne Labs. And... it's obvious, isn't it? I didn't really feel like there was much mystery here, and the ending just seemed to peter out under its own predictability.

Which might have been fine if I'd enjoyed the characters and/or the getting there, but all of the characters feel one-dimensional and based in stereotypes. And I like dogs as much as anybody but Koontz's dog love is a little weird, I gotta say. What's with having a "talking" dog as a main character, anyway?

Watchers is always the Koontz book that seems to get mentioned, but I'll try another if anyone has any better recommendations. For those curious about this: I should also point out that this thriller has some sci-fi aspects.

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Kelly (and the Book Boar)

Find all of my reviews at:

Somehow I’ve managed to live over five and a half dog years without ever reading a Dean Koontz novel. However, when I was presented with the opportunity to do a buddy read with . . .

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I jumped at the chance. What do I have to say now that I’m finished?????

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I mean LOTS better because I really had a pretty horrible time while reading this one. In case you too have spent decades ignoring Koontz, here’s the lowdown of what Watchers is about. We start with Travis, a supposed former Delta Force member who must have suffered some severe head trauma or something that made him no longer be awesome. Then we meet Bella Swan Nora. Poor Nora is a special snowflake who was forced to live as a recluse by her crazy ass aunt. Now that evil Aunty has finally kicked the bucket, Nora can let her freak flag fly. Ha! Not really. Nora can pretty much only drone on and on and on and on about how difficult things were for her while Travis tells her how much she is smart, she is kind and she is important. (I would like it to be on the record that I will gladly volunteer as tribute to deliver the bitchslapping to Nora that she sooooooo deserves.) Finally, we get to meet the star of the show – a/k/a the smartest pooch ever grown in a lab. No offense el doggito, but there can only be one Einstein . . .

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Anywho, the whole story is about how Travis finds supermutt and then finds Nora and they fall into instalovey loveytimes and discover that Einstein is a real Einstein all while trying to keep it on the downlow that they have the dog everyone and their . . well dog is looking for while trying to avoid an abomination that was also created by the government known as “The Outsider” and not to mention not get whacked by a mafia hitman. You’d think with all that going on this would’ve been interesting, huh? Well, you’d be wrong ‘cause it was boring as shit. . . .

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Basically this was eleventy trillion pages of a lesson on man’s inhumanity to man written by a dude who seriously has a thing for dogs. Like so much that I’m pretty sure he’s one of the people all the right-wing nutters were thinking about wanting to marry his pet when they were trying to keep gay marriage illegal.

Save your breath if you want to troll me. One thing I know for certain is . . .

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Just ask Edward. Okay, maybe not him. Ask Shelby instead. I’d tell you to ask Delee but her interwebs is broke, Ron 2.0 disagrees with me 100% of the time out of spite and it will be October before he gets a review posted anyway, and Stepheny is on like Chapter 1 still so she doesn’t even know the snoozefest she’s about to subject herself to.


I don’t even care about all the things wrong with this book, I love it, I’m going to 5* it, and I’ll internet fight with anyone who wants to question it.

Edward Lorn

What started as a buddy read involving Stepheny, Dan 2.0, Delee, Kells. and Shelbs, soon descended into organized Koontz-shaming. Our seemingly harmless group excursion into one of Dean Koontz's best books became a game of Who Can Take the Hottest Squat On E.'s Childhood? That's fine, though, because Kells's and Shelbs's brains have been rotted by reading too much porn, and we all know that Dan 2.0 suffers from Ridiculous Disease, a disease that confuses fiction with real life and makes its sufferers believe that insane shit cannot happen in or around make-believe stories, unless that fiction is Harry Potter, who obviously gets a pass because wizards are the shit, yo.

I like each of the people listed above, even if they read almost everything wrong, because opinions are like Cheetos. Everybody wants to have them but no one wants to be seen with dirty hands. But Shelbs, Kells, and Dan 2.0 eat Cheetos with wild abandon, and have no problem wiping their neon-orange dusted fingers down the fronts of everything you hold dear. Seriously, you guys rock. I wouldn't change you for the world.

Needless to say, this book is awesome. It also sucks a load of donkey penis. While reading, you're likely to have a great time. It's only when you've completed this book and start another Koontz book that you realize that something has gone terribly wrong. Once you put down your second Koontz book and pick up your third, you begin shaking with terror because that feeling of unease has become sheer unadulterated terror. You throw the third book out the window and shriek after it, "Never again!" But then you pick up a fourth... and a fifth... and Tom fucking Cruise on a hydraulic crutch, you've finally realized what's happened. Dean Koontz is a fucking hack who repeats himself in every book!

And Watchers is the book that started it all.

For those of you who do not know, the film version of Watchers was the first successful Koontz adaptation. Never mind that the world-weary Travis was played by the barely pubescent Corey Haim (who would later sell his teeth on eBay and die of a drug overdose but once had a thriving career), the film was an overall success because dogs and government-trained killers and monsters are rad! Everybody but Koontz fans liked the movie. The movie dropped a muddy deuce all over the source material, but Koontz made a few bucks. He's been trying to recreate the magic ever since. And then Koontz's Golden retriever, Trixie, died, and the poor bastard lost his fucking mind. After the death of his beloved pooch, every koontz book was about a super-smart doggie sidekick, a government-trained killer, or a monster. Sometimes all three happened. Sometimes only one of those things happened. Eventually Koontz found Odd Thomas and most Koontz fans rejoiced because, while the book was an obvious cash-grab based on the success of The Sixth Sense, it was original in comparison to the other bullshit Koontz had been dropping on fans from his throne on high. Odd would eventually shit the bed too, but we're not here for that. We're here to discuss Watchers, the best and worst thing Koontz ever did with his career.

I would hazard a guess and say that Watchers is the last original thing Koontz wrote. It is the end of the road when it comes to his imagination. Every book published after it can be found earlier in his career under a different title. While the character names and plots change slightly, Koontz only has ten templates with which to work. After you read more than five close together, you start to see the pattern that has made him a bestselling author. Because casual readers like the same old shit over and over again. It's comforting to know that Koontz will always deliver one of ten kinds of stories and that it will always be readable. He's the literary equivalent of a Marie Callender's pot pie. Each box contains a different meat, but the same old broth and veg baked into the same old crust. Nothing wrong with it, but you will get tired of it if you eat it every night.

In summation: A piece of my childhood that's withstood the test of time. I like it. I like it a lot. But I also know that it's kinda like saying you liked Hitler in 1936. You know, before he became Hitler-Hitler. People change. Dean Koontz is not Hitler, of course, but he's strayed far from the writer I once wanted to emulate. Somewhere along the way, he abandoned his imagination and succumbed to financial success. More power to him.

Final Judgment: The book that ended it all.


Very overrated...I had high expectations for the book, because of the almost universal applause it gets...and it turned out to be yet another Koontz dog novel.
The characters in this novel are shallow and cardboard - the ex delta force soldier, a widower, falls in love with an abused woman. Of course despite her abuse lasting for years she gets out of the shell in several months and gets pregnant, drives a car, even uses weapons !
The scene when they have weapons hidden all over their house is quite hilarious. Also, of course both of our heroes conveniently either invested their money/or inherited a large sum from a dead aunt, and don't have to work for the rest of their lives...and did I mention that the dog is special ?
2 words: You can read this book if you are a Koontz fan, you might even get engrossed in it, but it's one of those books that you forget the moment you put it back on the shelf.


Unputdownable, with surprisingly deep characterization, and a super-smart dog that runs around adorably. + a nightmarish monster that escapes a laboratory and starts munching on the peaceful population of modern suburbia.An immaculate mix of horror, romance, and action.


I totally enjoyed Watchers. Honestly? it is what it is, and, yes, some of the characterizations and descriptions were a bit, well, heavy handed. But--the dog, Einstein, is completely irresistible. Mostly is a real page turner. It was my before bed reading, and most nights it gave me nightmares, but I couldn't stop reading. And did I mention the dog?

In the first chapter, Travis Cornell is hiking in Santiago Canyon, and he finds (or perhaps is found by?) a stray dog, who seems to be warning him about something lurking in the woods. Initially skeptical, Travis eventually realizes something IS following them, and, taking the dog with him, he heads for home. As Travis soon learns, this is no ordinary dog. I won't say why because how Travis discovers the truth about Einstein makes for fun reading. But as their relationship develops, the dog rescues him in all kinds of ways, most notably by introducing him to the lovely (but terribly introverted) Nora.

The bad guys in this book are really, really bad. With one exception--Koontz nicely complicates the evil thing that's pursuing Travis and Einstein. In a Frankenstein's monster kind of way.

In his afterward, written considerably afterward, Koontz talks about how readers continue to tell him how much they love this book. (It's because of the dog.)

Finally, it's worth thinking about why a dog with human intelligence is so darn appealing. What cultural fantasies about dogs and dogness--and human-ness--are played out here? Nearly every one--the way humans project all kinds of desires and moral behavior onto dogs, the idea that dogs make us human, that their goodness and loyalty bring out the best in us.

And, FYI? On the official Dean Koontz website, you can find a list of his other dogs stories. I'm planning to sample a few more.


This was one of the first books I ever read by the author and I was hooked. He has a way of frightening you witless but not allowing you to put the book down. I HAD to know how it ended. A classic.