Review of Lightning by Dean Koontz


I hadn’t read any Dean Koontz until earlier this year, when I read Odd Thomas and thoroughly enjoyed it – read my review here. So when Himself came home clutching this offering with a grin on his face, I knew it needed to go to the top of my To Read list…

lightningThe first time the lightning strikes Laura Shane is born… And that’s as much of the blurb I’m going to give you – whatever you do, don’t read the back cover – it reveals faaar too much of the storyline. Suffice to say that every time Laura faces major peril, her guardian appears after a bolt of lightning. Which is just as well, because Laura tends to face a lot of danger.

I now know exactly why Koontz is read around the world as a best-selling author – he certainly knows how to produce a page-turner. I should have turned the light off and put the book down, but stayed up to see what would happen, next. Laura is a strong sympathetic protagonist, however she isn’t overly complex or three-dimensional. This doesn’t matter, because the character who retains a sense of mystery and some menace is the gunman who threatens the drunk doctor about to attend Laura’s birth. This shadowy figure, who Laura calls her guardian, seems to be a force for good – although we learn early on that he is capable of killing without much compunction. And that he, in turn, is being followed by someone who regards him as a traitor…
Koontz provides plenty of narrative tension to keep the reader hooked – watching a child come under threat is certainly a strong motive to wish her benefactor well. The only catch is – and my main grizzle about the whole book – is that Koontz’s depiction of children and their dialogue didn’t really ring true. It didn’t become a dealbreaker, but was an irritation until Laura grew up sufficiently that it was no longer a problem.

Any lingering doubts about whether to continue the book was the first major plot twist – I didn’t see that coming… Not only did it ramp up the stakes another several notches, the pace and quality of the book steadily increased, so that I devoured the rest of the 500+ page story in two greedy gulps. The ending was suitably climactic, with another interesting twist right at the end. All in all, a really enjoyable, addictive read.

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