Lightning

By Dean Koontz

58,756 ratings - 4.07* vote

A storm struck on the night Laura Shane was born, and there was a strangeness about the weather that people would remember for years. But even more mysterious was the blond-haired stranger who appeared out of nowhere – the man who saved Laura from a fatal delivery. Years later – another bolt of lightning – and the stranger returned, again to save Laura from tragedy. Was he A storm struck on the night Laura Shane was born, and there was a strangeness about the weather that people would

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Book details

Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
September 2nd 2003 by Berkley

(first published 1988)

Original Title
Lightning
ISBN
0425192032 (ISBN13: 9780425192030)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Delee

LIGHTNING is one of my go to books. It is a book I read over and over again when I find myself in a reading slump...for a couple of reasons- 1) I have read it so many times- I don't have to concentrate very much to get through it again...and, 2) It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Why? It has two of my book boyfriends in it. What is a book boyfriend you may ask???....Or may not ask- but I will tell you anyways...A book boyfriend is a character I fell in love with at some point in my life.

I have book boyfriends, movie boyfriends, and TV boyfriends. Allllllllllll which have ruined me over the years for real life men. STUPID, stupid, fake boyfriends...

The worst of them all is this one- who at a young age I thought I would meet the equivalent of some day. Sigh...

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Elliot Garfield. Where oh where is my Elliot Garfield? Bastard!!!

...anyways- moving right along. LIGHTNING...

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Lightning strikes on the night Laura Shane is born. Which in most cases wouldn't be all that unusual...but Laura was born in January. January 1955 to be exact.

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...and what follows each lightning strike throughout Laura's life is a gorgeous strange man (Stefan)- who pops up in times of trouble to rescue her.

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Pretend book boyfriend #1

Year after year Laura escapes death..and most tragedies in her life with the help of her guardian- Stefan. Whether he is real or not, she is not quite sure of- but when she gets older, she meets a man she knows IS real -Danny.

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Pretend book boyfriend #2 (in my youth, I pictured him as this)

as an adult, I picture him as this...

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...who coincidentally is also one of my TV boyfriend's "Denny" for those who watch Grey's Anatomy.

Eventually she falls in love and settles into a normal life with Danny...forgetting about Stefan...until tragedy strikes again.

LIGHTNING will forever be one of my favorite books- It may not be that original (the similarities to The Terminator are hard to look past). It may not be the most well written...but it will always hold a special place in my heart- and I will probably read it at least 5 or 6 more times in my lifetime. :)

Alejandro

A shocking lightning!!!


A BUNCH OF GENRES

This was the third novel that I read by Dean Koontz (back in 1992).

Still at that time (1992), I read the book in a Spanish translated version since I was still in the process to be able to read on English.

This is another great novel of Dean Koontz that merges a lot of genres...

...not only horror / thriller that it's what you expect when reading a Koontz's book...

...but also fascinating concepts of science fiction, along with elements of military, espionage and romance too.


FLASHIN' LIFE

Meet Laura Shane.

Since she was born till she is a already grown up woman.

During all her life, she has been watched by a "guardian angel"...

...a mysterious blond man who appears in the most desperate moments of Laura's life.

Depending of your familiarity with Koontz's works, you will be able to catch some of his signature elements like the choice of Laura to become a novelist, since in many of his books, usually the protagonist, it's a writer and/or an avid reader.

As I was commenting before, horror fans are more acquainted with the name of Dean Koontz, however, this book, Lightning is also a wonderful option for fans of the science fiction genre.

Since I don't want to spoil much the surprises in the storyline, I prefer not to comment in detail about the events in the plot.

However, if you give a chance to this book, you will realize how good is and how entertaining evolved.

Jamie

This novel is a combination of science fiction (time travel) and suspense, and the result is a book I was not be able to put down.

The story focused around Laura Shane. Starting from birth and to adulthood (around 30 I believe). The other main character is Stefan. A unknown “guardian” who keeps appearing throughout her life to save her. Both are well thought-out and well-written characters. Another character I liked in the story was Thelma (Laura’s childhood friend).

Laura goes through early life and several situations (starting at her birth) come up that should have hurt or even ended her life. However, each time she is saved by the mysterious Stefan. Who he is or why he saves her is a mystery through the first half (or more) of the book. All I will say is the Koontz did a great job adding a bit of a sci-fi twist into the story.

This is one of my favorite all-time books. I first read this in middle school (over 10 year ago) after reading another of Koontz's books (House of Thunder). Since then, I have read this book several times and recommended it to fellow readers often.

Ciarán West

Why don't you read Dean Koontz? You probably have an answer. Mine was something like 'Jesus Christ this guy writes about forty books a year, and they all seem a bit rubbish.' I, like everyone else, first came across his novels because they were next to the Stephen King books in the library. Clever marketing, even if it is quite accidental. There were books with evil clowns on the front, books with scary kids on the front. It all seemed a bit Fiction-by-numbers to me, so I never picked any of his up. That was until a friend gave me this one. She did the whole 'No, it's not a horror' pitch that we do so often when we want our Mums to read Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, or The Green Mile. That's the awful rep horror/sci-fi/fantasy books have- we have to use disclaimers and qualifiers in order to tempt non-fans into the genres.

Anyway, I read it. Mainly out of boredom, which the best reason to do anything. What struck me was how much he made me care. I love Stephen King, but I think his strength lies in the story, not in the characters. With Lightning, Koontz gave me a protagonist that I wanted to know in real life. I was three chapters in and already depressed about the finite nature of a book. And with this book (not to give too much away) he does it more than once. Even when you think you have the measure of it all, he does a bit of goalpost shifting that you don't see coming, and you aren't even mad about, such was the genius of the play.

What is it if not a horror? It's science fiction in parts, it's fantasy in bigger parts, and it's about love, for the most part. There are no Killer Clowns or Scary Children, but it will make you fall in love with Koontz, and want to explore more. If I can give you any tips regarding that, I'd say 'go early'. Night Chills and The Voice of the Night are favourites.

He does write too many books, and I haven't liked all of them. His techno-noirs leave me cold. This one though, will knock your socks off. And then you'll have to pick your socks back up, to wipe away the tears.

Matthew

Great! The best I have read from Koontz so far!

Edward Lorn

This year, along with my King reread, I'm delving into my top 10 Koontz books again. (Probably Top 12, just so I have a book for every month, but I'm having trouble picking two more.) I have a theory about Dean Koontz, and it goes like this: He's only written ten stories in his career, and he's been rewriting them ever since. This one is structured an awful lot like From the Corner of His Eye and the absolutely terrible Life Expectancy, which is the only Koontz book I've ever given a single star to, other than his money-grabbing short story tie-ins.

Lightning has everything I miss about Koontz. Coherent plot, a theme, no uber-smart dog character, and enough heart to choke a cannibal. It's a damn fun book, if a little... old fashioned where ideas are concerned. Let's completely overlook the concepts borrowed from the movie Terminator. Let's also overlook the fact that a man changes the future because of instalove. Let's furthermore overlook that there are two stalkers in this book: one's a secret admirer and the other is a "guardian", so that's okay. After all, what's the difference between a stalker and your boyfriend? Your boyfriend's hot.

(These are the jokes, fuckface. Deal with 'em.)

If we're to forgive all this, then we can safely enjoy the book. I'm willing to do that for nostalgia's sake alone. I'd hate to think that a younger version of me passed by these things without so much as a raised eyebrow, but he did. So, because I'm cutting that blind douchepickle some slack, I'll cut Koontz some slack, too.

In summation: I wish I could travel back in time and slap myself for enjoying this book so much, but I can't Paradox!, as Chris says, over and over and over... I get it. Doctor Who is a lie, and H. G. Wells was on that rock. I can dig it. Read it for a healthy dose of 1989. Because not being confined to a wheelchair is worth risking Hitler winning the war. Logic. Set. Match.

(This review is brought to you by Sarcasm. I received this book free of charge in exchange for puberty.)

Casey

I used to be a die-hard Koontz fan; I think some of his books in the past five years have fallen off a bit, but Lightning remains in my top ten. I still have my tattered copy, and look forward to reading it for the third time in the future. Like some of his other books (particularly Intensity), Koontz has created a strong lead character and a complex but easy to follow plot. There are Nazis. There's time travel. There are big guns. It may sound like a weird mix, but it works beautifully. I'm not a die-hard sci-fi or suspense fan, but I love, love, love this book.

Karl Marberger

Slow at times, but some appealing dual sci-fi and historical fiction.

Jane Stewart

What a great story! I thought about it frequently afterwards.

At times it was a roller coaster ride, frightening, intense, and I didn’t want to stop reading until I got through the current crisis. The main story is Laura’s life from birth to adulthood. A strange man appears at critical times in her life to save her from disaster. Laura is not a wimp. She does smart things. This is one of the few books where I don’t want to say much about the story. It is sooo much better not to know. There is suspense, danger, courage, clever things, and surprising things. The characters are rich.

I had two problems. The author used the artificial device of interrupting scenes. For example, there’s a scene in 1977 and another in 1988. The author split each of those scenes into about four parts and then went back and forth between the two showing pieces of each scene. The effect was interruption, and I was angry at the author which took me out of the story. This happened a few times during the book. There was such great “natural” suspense and action, the author didn’t need to use this device. I would have been ok with splitting the scenes into two parts each, to allow the two climaxes/resolutions to be told together, but no more than that.

Second problem was the narrator (Christopher Lane) using an effeminate gay guy’s voice for young girls. It was terrible acting - the wrong tone and voice for girls. Get a version with a different narrator (if ever available) otherwise read the physical book to eliminate that problem.

The strange man was able to do something a few times but not another time which bothered me. The explanation given was not consistent since it did not apply to all situations. But the story was so good I was willing to look past it. Again I can’t say more. I don’t want to give anything away.

The author does not used tired cliches. I was delighted to hear a character say “I’m a legend in my own scrapbook.”

DATA:
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook reading time: 12 hrs and 58 mins. Swearing language: I don’t recall any. Sexual content: referred to a few times, nothing in detail. Setting: mostly 1944 to 1989, mostly California and Germany. Book copyright: 1988. Genre: time travel suspense thriller. Ending: satisfying and complete.

OTHER BOOKS:
I noticed that in four Koontz books, a main character has amnesia issues and/or erased memories. Some of the books have bad guys hypnotizing to erase someone’s memory. In other books a violent situation or accident causes amnesia. I don’t want to give away plots, so in the following list I’m using the word “memory” to indicate which books had a main character with one of these memory problems.

The author loves dogs. He finds them noble, loyal, and heroic. In several of his books a dog has a major role. I’ve indicated below which of his books have dogs in the story (that I know about).

I’ve reviewed the following Dean Koontz books, unless indicated. Dates are copyright dates.

3 stars. The Key to Midnight 1979 (memory)
3 stars. The Eyes of Darkness 1981
2 stars. The House of Thunder 1982 (memory)
4 stars. Phantoms 1983
3 ½ stars. Darkfall 1984 (aka Darkness Comes & aka The Pitt by Owen West)
3 stars. Strangers 1986 (memory)
5 stars. Watchers 1987 (dog)
5 stars. Lightning 1988
(not read) Midnight 1989 (dog in supporting role)
4 stars. The Bad Place 1990 (memory in beginning of the book)
(not read) Dragon Tears 1992 (dog)
(not read) Winter Moon 1993 (dog in supporting role)
3 ½ stars. Dark Rivers of the Heart 1994 (memory) (dog)
5 stars. Intensity 1995 (dog - per Angela)
2 stars. Fear Nothing 1998 (dog)
3 stars. Odd Thomas 2003
3 ½ stars. Life Expectancy 2004
2 stars. Velocity 2005
2 stars. Ashley Bell 2015 (memory) (dog)

T.M.

I've always been a big fan of Dean Koontz and this one did not disappoint. I like the premise of someone from Nazi Era Germany time traveling into the future to try to change destiny. A fun, fast-paced read.

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