5 stars out of 5
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, or so it's been said. And for sure, prolific writer Bibi Blair - grown daughter of perpetual Hippie parents Nancy and Mitch - is making the most of hers. Bibi's amazing story begins when she's diagnosed with a rare, incurable cancer - told by her doctors that she has no more than a year to live.
Not gonna happen, Bibi insists - and proceeds to make a remarkable full recovery unheard of in the medical community. But then, her life takes a different turn: From a soothsayer recommended by her surfer-dude father, Bibi learns that escaping death comes with a catch; she was spared only so she can save the life of someone named Ashley Bell.
From that point on, the story gets crazy - with chapters weaving in and out from the present to events of Bibi's somewhat offbeat childhood. Each chapter peels back clues as to what's going on, most of which fall into the realm of fantasy (well, maybe, but then again, maybe not). A big reveal somewhere around the 60% mark hits like a ton of bricks, and from then on, the story takes a turn toward the even more bizarre. The ending, which in many ways is unsatisfying, brings up a whole new dimension in and of itself that kept me wondering for several days after I finished the book.
The drawbacks? Maybe too many words; no matter how well crafted they are, some of the chapters seemed to drag on a bit. And if you don't like fantasy mixed in with reality - and perhaps not being able to discern which is which - this probably isn't the book for you.
Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (Random House LLC, December 2015); 578 pp.