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By the Light of the Moon Hardcover – December 24, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Perhaps more than any other author, Koontz writes fiction perfectly suited to the mood of America post-September 11: novels that acknowledge the reality and tenacity of evil but also the power of good; that celebrate the common man and woman; that at their best entertain vastly as they uplift. His latest is one of those best, exciting and deeply moving, shorter than usual and also less prone to the overwriting, the flood of similes and metaphors, that sometimes overwhelms his storytelling. As usual for Koontz, the novel opens at full throttle: a mad doctor invades a motel in Arizona, injects both itinerant artist Dylan O'Connor and struggling comic Jillian Jackson (strangers to one another) with an unknown substance that, he says, is his life's work and will have some unknown effect, then warns them to flee before his enemies kill them; soon after, the doctor is slain by heavily armed assailants. The rest of the story is an extended chase, as Dylan and Jillian, along with Dylan's high-functioning autistic brother, Shep, dart around the West, only steps ahead of the assassins. Within hours, the effects of the injections materialize: Jillian experiences portentous visions-a flock of birds, a woman in a church; Dylan is overcome by the need to rush to the aid of people in distress (among others, in an intensely poignant scene, an elderly man searching for his missing daughter); and Shep learns to teleport himself and others. (Interestingly, Koontz bases the science behind these developments on nanotechnology, the same mechanism used by Michael Crichton in his just published Prey, an object lesson in how two writers can take the same premise and generate two very different yet excellent novels). The novel's only flaw is its abrupt ending, contrived probably to allow sequels-a probability that Koontz fans, but also anyone else who reads this novel, a predestined bestseller and rightfully so, will applaud.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Someone menacing is after itinerant artist Dylan, his autistic brother, and their new traveling companion, Jilly, a stand-up comic who has visions. And they only have the novel's 24-hour time span to figure out who it is.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Dean Koontz does take a different strategy with his tapestry of plot. Instead of weaving back and forth with various strands of his plot as he did with Strangers and Mr. Murder, Koontz basically stays with his three main characters once they are introduced. As has been usual with Koontz as of late, his new novel only spans a few days.
Koontz starts his novel with a true North by Northwest feel in that he appears to place his characters in the wrong place at the wrong time. An unusual plot twist in the novel's last pages takes a surprise turn that will take most readers totally unaware, and Koontz shreds the wrong place at the wrong time into something else entirely.
Dylan O'Conner, an artist on his way to an arts festival, and his autistic brother Shep are ensconced in a hotel room. Nearby, Jillian Jackson is a comedian on her way to her next gig. Those three find a trip to get fast food and root beer to be a suddenly dangerous proposition. Attacked by an amok scientist, Dylan and Jillian are forcibly given injections that may-or may not-have positive consequences.
To compound matters, there is a goon squad that wants to kill the amok scientist and anyone with whom he may have had contact. Jillian, Dylan, and the synonym spouting Shep find themselves on the run and that strange things are beginning to happen within their bodies.
The next few days in the three character's lives are a wild non-stop roller coaster ride that is virtually a thrill a minute. Koontz has a unique way of peppering his suspense-filled pages with humor, especially in the personage of Shep O'Conner. One can easily compare the unusual character that is Shep with Tom (M-O-O-N spells Tom) from King's The Stand. Both characters are immensely charming and quite more than they appear to be.
Easily, these three characters rank as some of the most charming and unique personages found in the Koontz universe. Koontz somehow finds a way to allow the characters to grow and become three-dimensional during the book's non-stop action and brevity of time that makes up the story's setting.
This is also one of the few Koontz books that does not feature a loveable animal. The goon squad that chases Shep, Dylan, and Jillian never develop as characters because they remain a constant background threat. Normally, Koontz loves to get into his evil characters' heads and reveal their sickness. He pretty much avoids doing that with the exception of the chilling Dr. Frankenstein. (For those who have read the book, the pun with chilling was intended. Sorry.)
Those who have not had the pleasure of experiencing the Koontz universe could not hope for a better introduction. By the Light of the Moon is a master at work and is a wonderful weaving of suspense and comic relief.
By the Light of the Moon was one of those delightful and surprising books. The "surprise" was never quite figuring out the doctor's motivation and in particular why he picked Dylan and Shep initially to carry on his "life's work". As more details are revealed so is the connection. Each of the three main characters Dylan, Shep and Jillian have been injected with a secret serum and it has a different effect on each of the characters. By working as a team the three are able to develop strategies that help them to avoid being caught by the "government men" who want to get their hands on this serum. Shep is autistic and yet his "power" seems to be the most unusual and magnificent of the three, a real gift. Jilly, a total stranger to Dylan and Shep until that strange night when they were injected, becomes a real part of the "family". She has wonderful patience with Shep and his actions related to his autism. In addition, Koontz does a great job of exploring autism and showed me what it must be like to live with and be responsible for an autistic family member. As Shep accepts Jilly as part of the "family" he grows and changes, and yet realistically is not "cured" of his autism. His gift does give him increased self-confidence and helps to go beyond his shyness to help the other two.
I really enjoyed the suspense of thinking I knew the doctor's motives, only to find that Koontz adds more to the story right up to the end.
I recommend this for all Koontz fans and for those who may not have tried Koontz, this is a great book with which to begin. Koontz is an author who explores the inner strength of characters and a belief in there being some goodness in humanity.
As with most of his books, dean has crafted a tale that anyone could read without fear of any great offense.
This is the kind of writing that has kept me coming back for more and has filled my library with dozens of his books.