Book Review: Ashley Bell, Buy it Here!

Ashley Bell Book Review

This is a book review about Ashley Bell, which is a great read, a book I could not put down. Although I was a little confused at first by what was happening, I was hooked, right from the very beginning. When things cleared up and I realized what was going on I was shocked and compelled to keep going. Not only does it keep you at the edge of your seat waiting for what is going to happen next, but you will have genuine compassion for the characters. You will feel like you are right there with them.

An Introduction (Ashley Bell Book Review)

In this book review, I will detail (hopefully, without too many spoilers) the latest in a long line of spine-tingling thrillers, which readers like you have come to enjoy from Dean Koontz, title after title. Such as Final Hour, Last Light, The City, Whispers, Odd Thomas the series, and most recently, The Silent Corner. A page-turner to keep any reader riveted. The book gives the background of ten-year-old Bibi Blair who lived under a grim vault of sorrow each day in Southern California, at least until her grandfather (whom she called “Captain”) came to live in the loft of their garage. She wanted to marry a hero someday yet her mind was always spinning. Just how this little girl imagined her life at a tender age. Yet in the long run, this may turn out to be a bit too much for her.

I loved Bibi from the minute she was introduced in the book. What a charismatic young lady. Even from her childhood you couldn’t help but love her. The book ends up taking quite a turn when Bibi gets terminal brain cancer and believes that she did not die because she was meant to save someone else’s life, that someone was Ashley Bell.

At the time of the book, she is currently living in Southern California. To be exact, a small bungalow in Corona del Mar. There was no ocean view, despite being three blocks away from the Pacific. The girl wrote short stories and kept a diary. There is also mention of her previously living in San Francisco where a dog was abandoned by a cruel master on a beach just south of there. A lot of writings chronicled Jasper going from place to place in search of a new home. He was a black and gray mongrel named Jasper in her stories. Yet a golden retriever and named Olaf in Bibi’s real life.

Her parents named her Bibi because they were quirky and lighthearted surfers. Pronounced Beebee and derived from the Old French word ”Bibelot”, meaning a ”toy”, ”bauble”, or trinket. She resisted the thought of ever being anyone’s toy. She resisted the thought of ever being anyone’s toy. Yet by age sixteen, she was used to the name. After turning twenty, this woman embraced and accepted her quirky name. Feeling it made her stand out. Yet worried her name would prevent her from being taken seriously as a novelist yet she never used a pen name.

The story quickly progresses to her life at age twenty-two. She wrote for a newspaper and had big dreams of a career beyond this, working on a novel. She preferred to write less about big events and more about stories where people’s lives are affected by forces beyond their control. The journey of a young woman in a man’s world is tough. Bibi, no doubt, also has it tough in some way. When you turn each page, more of her struggle will be revealed.

Starting with Bibi’s hunt for Ashley things get crazier than ever as Bibi gets involved in another world in her own mind. Bibi’s brain tumor puts her in a coma that the doctors cannot understand because the brain activity is as active as vibrant as a fully awake and functioning as any person’s mind would be. This world is full of many things Bibi is not used to. Lots of conspiracies and lots of crime. This story is filled with themes of both innocence and evil.

Warning: Spoilers ahead in this Book Review!

The girl that Bibi feels she is meant to save, Ashley Bell, whom she has never actually met but was a character in a book she read as a child. Ashley Bell was a Holocaust survivor who grows up to become a brain surgeon. Bibi’s strong desire to save her is what consumes her after her close encounter with death. Bibi has quite a knack for forgetting bad experiences that have happened in her life; however, to save Ashley Bell, she must open a deeper part of her mind of forgotten incidences. This is very important to her rescuing Ashley.

Dean Koontz keeps your attention in this story. Page after page and chapter after chapter you will not want to put it down. Your only thought while reading this book will be that you want to immediately find out what happens next.

The Characters

Another thing that is great about this story is that you can see the characters as real people. Such as Bibi’s mom and dad, a stereotypical Liberal surfer couple from California, if there ever was one, Pax, her Navy Seal BF, currently somewhere unknown to her, then there’s the Captain, her mother’s father and her childhood confidant, and many others you will grow to love and some you will hate tremendously. There isn’t anything that makes you think these are just some made-up people in a story you are reading.

The way Koontz describes his characters gives you such an opportunity to envision them in your own way. But, you do envision them as real people not just as characters in a book. This makes any story a better read because you feel like you are right there with them. You feel their happiness, their anger, their love, their sadness and their pain. Ashley Bell is a story that allows you to feel these emotions.

When you must put the book down, you are so into the story that you can’t wait to pick it up again because you just want to know that much what is going to happen next. And, your mind is racing along distracting you from whatever it is you’re doing, while you think… What is Bibi going to do next? What happens to Ashley Bell if she doesn’t get to her in time? No good character goes through a story without a conflict, this woman is no exception. Who is she? What will happen to her? Does she survive this novel? These questions and more will be on your mind as you read Ashley Bell.

The Book Review Summary & Recommendation

The book itself is quite long; however, with the short chapters in this book you won’t even notice this and you will feel like you are getting through the book quite quickly. This book can catch your attention quickly, especially those who are quite fond of stories that involve an overly determined character, lots of suspense, and maybe even some murders. Any mystery lover will be glad to read this book and will certainly be satisfied with the plot. This book is a must read and I give it two thumbs up as well as 5 out of 5 stars or however you want a book review to rate a novel. Those who are not Dean Koontz fans just might be after reading this novel.

While this book review cannot give too much away, Bibi’s ordeal is both unique and worth a read.

A Comparison?

From the standpoint of this book review, it is a more personal and character-driven story than say Koontz’ novel Breathless. A novel that is basically a high tech and plot-driven retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. While this latter book remains an exciting read, the personal focus and heartfelt emotions make Ashley Bell stand out among the rest of his works. This is not the usual Koontz thriller, it is a cut above showing what an author can really do when he digs deep into a character’s mind and soul. It will appeal both to his usual fan base of action thrillers and that of the rarer breed of those who want something more in their fiction. A deeper emotional core most best-selling authors are afraid to reach. And indeed, such depth says a lot about an author’s talent.

In conclusion, Ashley Bell is a very good read that you will not want to miss. Dean Koontz is a very good author who still puts out many books worth exploring. In an era where there is so much focus on digital media and cable TV screens, cell phones, tablets, and iPods, this is refreshing.

Koontz, Stephen King, and others of their ilk might end up being the last of an era. Stories are as timeless as life itself. The evolution of media always changes the way stories are told. Yet the experience of good storytelling, from the perspectives of both the reader and the author, should stay the same, no matter what. Ashley Bell is that personification of a great story.

I hope you liked my little book review and I hope I didn’t give away too much (though, I know I didn’t). It seemed to me that Mr. Koontz is setting us up for a sequel. What did you think? Will there be another thrilling story that focuses more on Pax? Let me know in the comments. By the way, if you have not read Final Hour and Last Light, though it is not necessary to the Ashley Bell story, some of the character lead-ins begin in these two Novellas. Thanks. 

This review also appears on Goodreads.

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