After Odd Thomas died, I didn’t think I would ever recover enough to read another Dean Koontz novel. I know Koontz did what he had to do and fans of the Odd Thomas series saw it coming from the moment he took that bell in Magic Beach but dammit if it didn’t sting like lemonade in a papercut when it finally happened.
Ashley Bell is a suspense about a young writer, Bibi Blair, who receives a terminal diagnosis and is suddenly faced with a very short life expectancy. There is more to Bibi’s illness, a shocking story that unfolds after Bibi makes an impossible recovery. Bibi knows she must save Ashley Bell but first she must find out who she is.
I originally chose to wait on Ashley Bell and put it near the end of my reading list but it’s Koontz and I’m a fan so I picked up a copy ahead of schedule. Once I finished I had to double-check the cover for the author name because I couldn’t believe I’d just read a Koontz book that I didn’t like. Tick Tock wasn’t the best but at least, it made me chuckle a few times. The plot in Ashley Bell felt forced and the most enjoyable aspect of the book was Bibi’s parents and Calida Butterfly. Koontz can build a solid character and he did so with Bibi but the storytelling was feeble at best. I felt like a load of unusable characters from other novels were dumped into one work with hope they would all blend well and was left feeling short-changed after I finally found out the mystery behind Ashley Bell.
The unsavory Ashley Bell reading is the reason behind this double barrel review. I sought redemption for Koontz because obviously after losing Odd, he and I need to stick together. I decided to read an old work of Koontz’s I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing.
Midnight is a gruesome thriller with a science fiction laced plot published in 1989. The story follows an FBI agent, a determined little girl, a documentary filmmaker and a disabled veteran as they uncover the chilling secret of the small town of Moonlight Cove. The story explores what humans would make of themselves with the right scientific capabilities and unlimited potential.
This was not the best book to turn to for redemption. Where Ashley Bell lacked in plot strength, Midnight excelled. The problem with Midnight shown through the weak, out-of-touch characters and unrealistic dialogue. The story actually reads like a prequel to the Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch. I would be interested to know if Midnight served as inspiration for the series.
All relationships stumble I guess and if I can put up with golden retrievers as supporting characters in almost every novel, these two strikes won’t turn me off of Koontz. I won’t say don’t read Ashley Bell but when you do, don’t hold it against him.
I’m currently reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, review coming soon!