By Dean Koontz

76,647 ratings - 4.04* vote

Past midnight, Chyna Shepard, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night in the Napa Valley home of her best friend's family. Instinct proves reliable. A murderous sociopath, Edgler Foreman Vess, has entered the house, intent on killing everyone inside. A self-proclaimed "homicidal adventurer," Vess lives only to satisfy all appetites as the Past midnight, Chyna Shepard, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night

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Book details

Paperback, 436 pages
October 31st 2000 by Bantam

(first published 1987)

Original Title
0553582917 (ISBN13: 9780553582918)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


Intense!!! All right!!!


The title for this novel, Intensity... truly well selected since this book is indeed...


You are barely getting confortable, starting to read the book, just a few pages, when...

Bam! Kapow! Tomá guacho!

The horror begins!

So, if you are a horror novel where you don't have to wait much to be full immersed in the action, don't look anymore! This is it! You found the book!


I have read quite several books by Koontz and...

...I was shocked by the crudity of the very first scenes.

I told myself (back then in 2007): "Dang! He (Koontz) is not fooling around! The villain, in this novel, is truly a grim, dark and twisted sonofa...".

Another of the most shocking things in this book, since you don't have any paranormal/sci-fi elements here (that's an usual trait by Koontz), all the horror here is made by somebody that it's quite "just" a human being...

...but don't fool yourself, since the villain here can scare more than the fiercest demon that you may encounter in other novel.

Even when you think that you can't get surprised anymore by him...


You'll get even more surprised...

...oh, yes...

... and even more afraid.

Trust me.

You'll meet true evil, truly human.


And since you have a really scary bad man...

...the only fair thing is to have a really awesome great woman.

I like the heroine here since I think that she acted in very logical way and every action that she does is well motivated and reasoned.

She doesn't have special skills like martial arts or anything, but she certainly have guts, have brains, and have common sense.

The story actually has very few characters beyond the villain and the heroine, but still you will have plenty of reading, plenty of development,...

...plenty of intensity!!!

Brace yourself!

Norm de Plume

I hate Dean Koontz, but I go through books quickly and have to have something to read at work, and when it comes down to it, I'll read anything you put in front of me even if it's bad just for something to do. Allegedly, this was one of his better books. The best book I've read of his, I would give two stars. Don't even remember what it was called. It pains me that this man is the second best selling author in the US. Seriously.

Why? Well, where to begin? Let's start with characters. Dean Koontz doesn't create characters; he just creates caricatures. The main characters stories of childhood trauma aren't remotely believable. If her mother didn't give a shit about her and was constantly moving around, why would she even bother to bring her for 16 years? Everything is so extreme in her character that there's never any remotely realistic motivation for any of it. Meanwhile, the villain is concerned only with intensity, mostly written in italics, because italics are apparently intense. His philosophy is that any intense experience is worthwhile. Basically, he should be on the X-Games doing flips on motorcycles and appearing in Mountain Dew commercials. The way Koontz beats the shit out of the intensity motif, I could barely even manage to focus well enough to keep reading because my eyes were rolling so hard.

How about his craft? Clunky, uninspired, repetitious prose with awful dialogue. I don't remotely understand why people buy this guy's books. There is nothing compelling about his craft. For a guy they call "The Master of Suspense", he lacks all sense of subtlety. He constantly holds the reader's hand unnecessarily as if afraid they won't get it any time he uses some kind of symbolism. Not that it's common with Koontz. He's always saying more than is necessary and it gets a little insulting over time, as if he thinks his readers are so stupid they can't possibly pick up on the things he's writing without help.

So, his plots must be super-awesome to make up for it all, right? Let's face it; with most pulp, people don't give a shit how it's written. They only care about the story. This story is about some chick who goes to a friend's for the weekend, only to have the entire friend's family killed and end up the sole survivor riding along with the killer, trying to come up with a way to take him down and save some girl she's never met that the killer has locked in his basement. The upside of this story is most of it leaves the heroine alone, so you're not subjected to the cringe-worthy dialogue that the book opens with. It also means that Dean Koontz has to find some way to create his particular breed of melodrama through sometimes very slow events, so he prattles on for pages about a cramp in the heroine's ass, or she freaks out talking about how she will surely sustain a grievous spinal injury by slamming the chair she's chained to into the stone fireplace wall by backing into it. Every time she takes a whack at it, "OHHHHHHH GOD THE PAIN IT HURTS SOOOOOOO BAAAAAAAD!" Gimme a fucking break. It's make of PINE. Fuck you, Dean, it's not dramatic that you have no grasp of physics whatsoever. Half of this book is her considering a fairly simple action and then contemplating the multitude of ways it could go horribly wrong and leave her critically injured. There's no real drama and nothing to care about, so Dean Koontz tries to manufacture some by telling you how you should feel about what she's doing.

I can't even begin to convey how inane this book truly is. Hopefully I've given you some idea.

Crime Addict Sifat

The intense of the “intensity” initiates from the long drawn out somewhat terrifying scenes of Chyna hiding from Vess in attempts to go unnoticed and to survive, and the intense of the “intensity” continues with fiery...

“...Chyna Shepherd, Untouched and Alive...”

Chyna Shepard had a hard and candidly distressful childhood and she opened up to nobody. The main companion she knew and trusted was Laura. Chyna voyaged home with Laura for spring break and keeping in mind that gazing out the window amid her restless night, Chyna heard something peculiar. It seem like an interloper, and returning to youth she instantly covered up under the bed. The gatecrasher had butchered the entire family in their rest and the just a single saved was Chyna.

The bottom line of the story is; "Do not give up if you ever find yourself as a victim in such a scenario. Bite your time, count till the last second. There is always a chance to survive."

J.K. Grice

I suppose many people feel that Koontz's books are a dime-a-dozen. But INTENSITY is as good a thriller as I've ever read, and that was 18 years ago. Very visceral and very scary. It reminds me a bit of the recent thriller, Descent by Tim Johnston , which was one of my favorite books of 2017.

Skyler Autumn

3 Stars

Chyna is taken to her best friend's family home for a mini break during the school year only to spend the first night hidden under the guest bed as a home invader proceeds to murder all the occupants. Having both an unusual and terrifying childhood Chyna has developed a skill set that has made her a survivor both then and now. As she peers out the window of the guest bedroom she hears a muffled scream and creaking footsteps heading towards her room, instinct takes over and she is under the bed, and out of sight. Chyna is fully aware that the bed has not been slept in and her things are safely hidden in the closet so that the room appears unused and hopefully the intruder will move on.

Edward Vess lives life intensely his senses are primed for optimal absorbance. He basks in both pain and pleasure and believes to live without fear is too truly embrace life. Tonight like many nights before he has entered a home that is not his and plans to kill everyone inside.

This novel started out exactly as advertised In-FUCKING-Tensity. I read this book alone at night and found myself startled at every little noise thinking Edward Vess was in my home. It was eery and terrifying and you couldn't help wonder how you would react thrusted into a similar life threatening situation. I know one thing I'd do for sure, is stay in the house after the killer leaves, count my lucky stars I wasn't discovered by him and then immediately call the police because I, unlike Chyna, am not a crazy person!

The first 30% of the novel I was immersed and you would have to pry the book out of my cold dead hands to stop me from reading it, but then the author took the readers out of the claustrophobia and tension that was the home, into a road trip, into other environments and unfortunately out of the part of the story I was enjoying so immensely.

It took me so far out of the novel because our protagonist has now gone from survivor to Rose McGowan in Scream trying to escape the killer through a doggy door.... like really?? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IDIOT!! The protagonist began to make poor decision after poor decision and even though the author tried to explain it a way with thin ass logic, as a reader I was left with the running inner dialogue of: WHAT ARE YOU DOING IDIOT!?

Also weirdly enough for someone like myself who LOVES reading inside the mind of a serial killer I actually didn't care for it in this novel. I wanted to be completely in the dark on where the killer was and what he was doing, thinking, and feeling but instead I got to know exactly where his head was at all times which took away from the creepy suspense. I'd rather of had this entire novel in the protagonist perspective instead of jumping back and forth. I think it would have made me a lot more unnerved by just the plain unknowing. I would be left with the same frantic question of; did he spot her? But instead I always knew the answer to that question which brought down the intensity of the novel.

Overall I like Dean Koontz, I went into this novel thinking he'd be like trashy Urban Fantasy writing but it was full of such deep descriptions, complex characters and vivid imagery. This novel was dark and not at all light and fluffy as I originally suspected. Although I didn't love this novel I really would like to read more Dean Koontz in my future. If you like'd this novel may I suggest You're Next a great horror film with survivalist girl as the lead (#GIRLPOWER); I'd also recommend High Tension but it is a well known plagiarism of this book and other then the different endings it is basically a carbon copy of Dean Koontz, and I don't support people who steal other's creative property.

Debbie "DJ"

OMG, I haven't read a book like this in years, and don't think I'll be reading one again any time soon. Intensity is the perfect name for this one. It starts right off with an intruder on a killing rampage, and never lets up. I know, how can I keep reading, but the suspense was beyond belief, and the writing incredible. Just the other day I was driving in the mountains, noticing a blue truck was constantly behind me. He even made the same turn I did on a dirt road. Was he coming to kill me? How will I escape? Oh, he just passed me, whew! Yup, this is gonna stick with me, just hopefully not too long. Awesome read for horror and suspense fans!


An excellent book, full of suspense. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and the temptation to rush to the end to see what happened was huge! But I was good and enjoyed every word of it. There is a very surprising little twist to the tale at the very end which was nice. It is always good to leave a book on a high and that is certainly the case here. Dean Koontz's books do vary in quality but this is one of the good ones,

Cody | CodysBookshelf

Ask any Dean Koontz fan what their favorite Koontz book is, and the answer you will likely get is Watchers, or maybe Odd Thomas. Exceptions to this exist, of course, but those two titles seem to get the most love amongst his fanbase.

Personally, my favorite was The City . . . Until I read Intensity.

This novel is really quite unlike most everything else by Koontz . . . unlike what I’ve read by him, anyway. There is no cloying sentimentality. No precocious children, no forced romance (Koontz almost goes there in the final chapter, but he redeems himself), no cornball military men or bougainvillea or wacky spirituality or Goldens. Just a sympathetic, kick-ass protagonist and the scariest, most loathsome villain Koontz has put to paper. And the only dogs to appear on the narrative are taken care of in a . . . well, rather un-Koontz-like fashion.

What is on display here is Koontz’s marvelous plotting skill: making a story move this well takes some serious chops. From the first page to the last I was enthralled, horrified. I’m not used to Koontz scaring me so badly, but he did it here.

Okay, enough with my fanboying. I’m just happy, okay? It’s been a while since I last read a Koontz novel I love so hard. I’m kicking myself for being aware of this book for a decade or longer, yet only reading it now.

Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)

I have never read a more action packed book in my life. It never once let up - almost from page one. In some ways it was a little disorienting because you never had a moment to breathe, but at the same time that's also what you really want when you read a thriller. The writing was meh, nothing special. But the story itself was skillfully told. And obviously unsettling. You get in the head of a serial killer, and who really wants to spend any time in that place!? Not me. And yet, I read the whole book in two days. The book was very aptly named: it was intense. And thrilling.

Also, the main character makes really dumb decisions. So...just know that going in.

Karl Marberger

Incredible and intense book. Great heroine, gripping villain, and good narrative.