Tick Tock is the story of a young Korean-American dime-store novel writer, Phan Tran Tuong (or Tommy Phan as he likes to be called), who through a mysterious old lady receives an 11-inch tall doll on his doorstep. The doll transforms into an ever-growing creature whose only goal is to kill Tommy. It types on his computer screen: "ÃÂThe deadline is dawn. Tick tock.' This thing chases Tommy and his cryptic waitress friend across California. There are some very important unexplained happenings and problems in Tick Tock. The unexplained happenings, like how the doll came to him, how this doll can survive and keep growing despite being shot and set on fire, and how his waitress friend, Deliverance Payne, can somehow fortell future events, jelp advance the plot. You don't want to put the book down because you want to know the explanations for the unexplained. Though it was sort of a crack-pot ending tying everything together, you still wanted to read it just to see what happens.
There were also some major problems in the book. A major problem would be, of course, the ravenous demon creature hunting down Tommy Phan. It is impossible to have a good fiction story without problems. No one wants to hear an 8-hour seminar on the chemical composition of estuary mud, especially if you are just making it all up. Conflicts compose the axis upon which all fiction spins.
Tick Tock begins on "a cloudless sky on a windless November day"ÃÂ. This is where Tommy Phan buys his Corvette (which later flips 3 times and explodes). Tommy takes his dream car home to return to his most recent novel. His doorbell rings suddenly, and he opens the door to an empty porch where "ice-cold wind assaulted him, frigid enough to take his breath away. A whirl of dead melaleuca leaves like hundreds of tiny flensing knives spun over him"ÃÂ. There he finds a doll, which begins the story. The doll proceeds to come alive and attack him, even resisting 3 rounds from a P7 M13 to the chest, and chases him to his corvette. The story from here takes place of the run as Tommy is tormented by the murderous doll-thing. It chases him to The Balboa Fun Zone, "among the herd of colorful horses frozen in mid-gallop"ÃÂ. He finally ends up at house of Mrs. Dai, whom Tommy's mother plays Mah-jongg (and sometimes bridge) with, and who also happened to have screwed up a spell involving a particualr demon-doll. Tommy hides in Mrs. Dai's living room, "The living room reflected the history of Vietnam as occupied territory: a mix of simple Chinese and French furniture with two contemporary American upholstered pieces."ÃÂ At the beginning of the book, I felt really cheery. I was sharing the happiness of Tommy Phan's American dream, and it was very happy indeed. I was feeling rather perplexed at the mid-point of the book. There were so many strange things that needed answering, it was difficult to concentrate on the horror aspect of the book. Oddly enough, I felt an awkward elation at the mediocre ending. Apparently, just finishing the book was enough to grant satisfaction.
Deliverance Payne is a strange character. I think that no matter what situation I put her in, she would come out unscathed. She has the skills, knowledge, and confidence to get out of any situation. If I put 30 armed terrorists in her house, she would whip of her12 -gauge Mossberg shotgun and blast her way out. If I chained her up, stuck her in a chest, and threw her off a dock, she would find a way out, some how locate me, and teach me a few things about respecting the rights of other.
The climax of this story was not surprisingly at the end. This is when the creature is debating with itself on how to get Tommy, as he is in Mrs. Dai's house, and the thing cannot enter her house without permission. It eventually smashes through a window and climbs in only to be thwarted by Mrs. Dai. Immediately after the demon-doll is destroyed, the action/suspense takes a backseat to the question and answer segment of the story. In a calm and orderly manner, Koontz wraps things up with a few comedic ideas that though it seems like it shouldn't, it does ends things very well.