Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
Bibi Blair had it all going for her, a solid job as an up-and-coming novelist, two loving and supportive parents and a fiance who is a serving Navy Seal. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when she was diagnosed with a rare and fatal form of brain cancer.
Bibi falls into a coma as her parents struggle to come to terms with what has happened. Her husband, Pax (does anyone on the entire planet really have that name?) is on a secret mission which necessitates a communications blackout, bad luck for Bibi, which cuts him out of the loop of her illness, at least initially. But Bibi is a strange one and emerges from her slumber fully rested, cured, and ready to face life, much to the amazement of assembled medical experts.
When her parents arrange a session with a psychic to ‘celebrate’ her recovery, Bibi finds herself in crazy pursuit of a young girl name Ashley Bell. She is told only that she, Bibi, has been saved from death so that she might in turn save Ashley. Unfortunately, other details about Ashley are scarce and so Bibi must conduct her own investigation to locate the young maiden in distress. Her main problem, however, is that a fanatical and well-resourced neo-Nazi organisation is also after Ashley and will happily execute Bibi to prevent her from getting there first. So it is that the adventure begins.
Sadly, this novel is all over the place. Although the characters are fairly strong, the plot is so wacky as to be nonsensical. The reader is swept into a great story with much excitement only to discover, about two-thirds of the way in, that it’s all a dream sequence. Rebel Voice expected Bobby Ewing to pop up at any minute. Bibi, it seems, has not actually wakened from her coma but is having a dream-like experience in her hospital bed. Strangely, if she gets injured in the dream, she also suffers in actuality. Think Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s here that the story weakens and crashes.
Dean Koontz can set the scene perfectly, but too often his promise is never fulfilled. Ashley Bell is a meandering race through one person’s imagination in a book, and yet another’s as he wrote the book. Rebel Voice is never a fan of extended dream sequences in fiction, especially when they are integral to the plot as they are in this case. Such a plot mechanism reeks of laziness and, ironically, a lack of imagination. Overall, Ashley Bell‘s a flop.
Sult scale rating: 5 out of 10. Very good start but fell by the wayside and ultimately proved disappointing. Contains yet more dog worship such as this classic:
‘In their constant joy and bottomless capacity for love, dogs were in tune with a more complex truth.’
Dean Koontz chooses to ignore the fact that dogs lick their own balls and sniff one another’s backsides.
If you enjoyed this, please share
(Book review 153)