Book Review: Ashley Bell (Ashley Bell #1) by Dean Koontz

Posted March 11, 2016 by Melissa in Book Review | 10 Comments

Book Review: Ashley Bell (Ashley Bell #1) by Dean KoontzTitle: Ashley Bell
Series: Ashley Bell #1
Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Random House, Bantam
Publication date: December 8th 2015
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Thrillers, Suspense
Length: 576 Pages
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

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.

Wow…Dean Koontz just never fails. When I first started reading Ashley Bell, I wasn’t sure if this read was a slight departure from the Koontz I was accustomed to reading or if the years since my last Koontz read had simply dulled my memory. Maybe it was a little of both…but irregardless…I loved Ashley Bell.

And as I’m having such a hard time putting my own thoughts into words and I had so many highlighted passages…I’m going to share lots of quotes through out this review. Personally I always find sampling an author’s writing to be the best way to judge if a read is for me…so helpfully this will help you decide to pick up Ashley Bell.

The signature character development and touch (or more than a touch) of the spiritual were all there as well as his usual nod to our furry friends.

“Dogs were the ultimate practitioners of the therapy of touch. Dogs knew and accepted the hard realities of life that human beings could not acknowledge until those obvious truths were exhaustively described with words, and even then there was often more bitter acknowledgment than humble acceptance.

“In their constant joy and bottomless capacity for love, dogs were in tune with a more complex truth.”

Bibi and all of the secondary characters were fleshed out beautifully and really added depth and realism amidst what might otherwise have been a ride so fantastic that one would probably simply fall off the rails. On a mission to beat a terminal illness despite all odds, Bibi is nothing if not a fighter.

Struggles such as these though do not come without testing our internal fiber, our moral compasses…and Bibi goes to the edge and back. She tries to make sense of the motivations of others, though sometimes it appears that evil in and of itself is enough motivation.

“Good men and women sought calm, peace, time for reflection. Evil people were eternally restive, intractable, always eager for more thrills, which were the same few thrills endlessly repeated, because the evil were unimaginative, acting on feelings rather than reason. Forever agitated, they were unaware that the cause of their fury was the confining narrowness of the worldview they crafted for themselves, its emptiness. There would never be an end to them—and always a need for men and women willing to resist them at whatever cost.”

What is humanity really?

“The unseen sun was so exhausted that the last light of the day had neither force nor color, a bleak and eerie radiance that might have been intended not to illuminate but to penetrate the bones and print X-ray images of her skeleton on the sidewalk, fossil proof that humanity had once existed.”

And here are few more scattered quotes that reflected upon the impact of the spoken word and imagination:

“What if things spoken into existence, who spoke them and why, is the same thing as hidden knowledge?”

“If we were imagined into existence with a universe of wonders, then the power to form the future with our imagination must be in our bloodline…”

“You should have more faith in fiction. It lets you come sideways at the truth, which is the only way anyone ever gets near it.”

“…the sadness that shadows every writer’s heart. For all the effort of creation, for all the hours at the keyboard and the intellectual exercise and the emotion expended, all of a writer’s creations are but a ghost of the Truth, as ephemeral as are all the works of humanity in this world within time.”

If you can’t tell I just adore Koontz and his writing style. It’s not for everyone but it most definitely is for me.

Although at times I felt that Ashley Bell was a bit drawn out and a bit further “out there” than I could really buy into, I loved it nonetheless.

About Dean Koontz

Koontz

When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 450 million copies to date.

Fourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, Relentless, What the Night Knows, and 77 Shadow Street), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Sixteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.

The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”

Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.

Dean Koontz lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.

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10 responses to “Book Review: Ashley Bell (Ashley Bell #1) by Dean Koontz

  1. Way back when, when Koontz was starting to get popular — late 1970s (yes, I’m that old) my mother, brother and I passed around Koontz paperbacks and enjoyed them. It’s been so many years and so many books, but after awhile I thought that he got a bit too graphically violent and “out there” for me. I haven’t read one by him in about 5 years I guess. I hope that this one will be a good fit for me if I read it. He is so super talented!

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