“Ashley Bell” by Dean Koontz
Synopsis: At twenty-two, Bibi Blair’s doctors tell her that she’s dying. Two days later, she’s impossibly cured. Fierce, funny, dauntless, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she was spared because she is meant to save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. This proves to be a dangerous idea. Searching for Ashley Bell, ricocheting through a southern California landscape that proves strange and malevolent in the extreme, Bibi is plunged into a world of crime and conspiracy, following a trail of mysteries that become more sinister and tangled with every twisting turn.
Unprecedented in scope, infinite in heart, Ashley Bell is a magnificent achievement that will capture lovers of dark psychological suspense, literary thrillers, and modern classics of mystery and adventure. Beautifully written, at once lyrical and as fast as a bullet, here is the most irresistible novel of the decade.
3 out of 5 stars
I do like Dean Koontz. I like his writing in spite of the fact that for the last decade or so, all of his books have a religious bent and a golden retriever. That ever present golden retriever makes me feel like I read the same book over and over even when the plot is entirely different.
This book has such a great premise that, sadly, does not quite live up to my expectations. Bibi Blair is our main character and a spunky twenty-two year old surfer girl. She is diagnosed with inoperable, terminal brain cancer. Two days later, she is completely cured.
What I liked: Bibi’s story is interesting, and for the most part, original. She is sent on a quest to find the illusive “Ashley Bell” whose life she is destined to save. There are nefarious characters who are hell-bent on stopping her along the way. Bibi is a likable character and she has a rich inner monologue that this book depends a great deal on.
I really liked, and would have loved to learn more about, her relationship with her Grandfather, the Captain. There were things hinted at and alluded to that I really needed spelled out, but the relationship felt real when reading about it.
Koontz is also, as always, very descriptive and does a great job of building this world, both internal and external.
What I didn’t like: There is a huge plot twist that I really needed earlier in the book for it to make more sense. I’m all about leaving the surprise till the end, but this particular twist needed an early reveal for a smoother plot. Bibi’s parents are also surfers and the book is littered with surfer lingo. Or, what Koontz perceives as surfer lingo. No surfer I have ever known, and I have known a few, has ever spoken like that. It did not translate well.
This is a giant of a book. I love my epic reads, but there was a lot of wasted space there in the middle. Lots of reading and not really going anywhere. 130 chapters.
Bibi’s fiance was essentially a non-character for me. I did not connect with him at all and honestly skipped many of his early chapters.
So, why did I give this book three stars? I did like it, I just was disappointed. I have been disappointed in most of the recent Koontz books I’ve read come to think of it. It was a good book but could have been so much better.
The cover … meh.