Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Book Review: Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell (Ashley Bell #1) by Dean Koontz
Release Date: December 8th, 2015
Format: eARC from Netgalley
THE MUST-READ THRILLER OF THE YEAR: Featuring the most exhilarating heroine in memory and a sophisticated, endlessly ingenious, brilliantly paced narrative through dark territory and deep mystery, this is a new milestone in literary suspense and a major new breakout book from the long acclaimed master.

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.

 I wasn't quite sure what to think of this at first. I found it difficult to believe that, two days after she's told of the horrible news, Bibi is suddenly healed. But still, the premises intrigued me. I like the thought of being kept alive for the sake of keeping someone else alive. It's like the butterfly effect in a sense - one person passes away, the other one is destined to fall as well.

I'd like to put a small disclaimer real quick: this is my first Dean Koontz book that I've ever read in my life. Admittingly, I have not been keeping up with his book releases but the ones I have picked up never really caught my attention. When I caught this one on Netgalley, I figured that it might be worth a try. It sounded more like my thing.

Bibi Blair just recently got her book published and she's been receiving rave reviews. Everything looks bright. All is good... until she receives a diagnosis that she now has brain cancer. Despite everyone worrying over her and ensuring that she's comfortable in what could be her last couple months alive, Bibi remains optimistic. After all, she still has another book she has to write. Maybe it would involve the time she was forced to spend in the hospital...

Two days later, she's cured. No brain cancer. Everyone is baffled - including the doctors, who demand that further research is needed to see what could've gotten rid of the cancer so fast. She reluctantly agrees but, for now, she just wants to go home to celebrate and to sleep in her own home.

What she finds at her home is a "gift" - a family friend who's a masseuse and who also happens to be a psychic. Even though she remains unsure about the logic of what a psychic could bring forth to the table, Bibi listens intently. This is when she discovers that she was kept alive for a reason: to save a girl named Ashley Bell. Someone wants her dead and only Bibi can save her because no one else realizes the danger Ashley is in.

Chaos ensues once this knowledge is revealed.

Then she's been threatened with one of her in-progress stories: even if she continues to write more of it, even if she continues to save back-up copies of it, they'll destroy it immediately. This part made little sense to me but still remained tense for me as the thought of seeing my hard work thrown away still hurt. But Bibi has no choice anyways. Someone's keeping track of her, somehow, and she's forced to have no electronics attached to her. She's forced to be on her own.  

Throughout the story, we get to learn a little bit about Bibi's past and get to see why she is what she is today. I found these interesting. Her past is definitely unique, in my opinion, when it comes to most childhoods.

When it came to reading through Bibi's search to find Ashley Bell, though, the intensity lessened a whole lot. Even though, yes, she's on a time crunch... it never really felt like it, if I'm honest. I found myself quite bored during most of this part. I'm still wondering how she even managed to get herself close to Ashley Bell when - lets be honest - all she literally has to go on is a name which may or may not be the right name at all. Bibi goes through all of this with her intuition. I understand intuition can be a powerful thing but it does have its limits.

It doesn't really begin to pick up its pace until close to the end of the book. I won't spoil the end for anyone but, if you pay close attention to the details of the book, you'll find its not much of a plot twist. Still - I love the ending and, honestly, I thought it made the book. It certainly tied things up very nicely to where it made... a bit more sense. But for some people, I can understand that it can seem like a bit of a cope out. I loved it, though.

Since most of the story just dragged on, I decided to give it a three out of five. If we're being technical, though, it's more of a 3.5 for me. I will still look forward for the next book but I'm hoping that most of the story won't be as boring.

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