Novel by: Dean Koontz
Hardcover published: December, 2002
Paperback published: November, 2003
Published by: Bantam Books
ISBN #: 0-553-58276-3
Copyright 2002 by Dean Koontz
Two brothers and a travelling comedienne are teamed together through an accident of fate. Pursued by unknown assassins, the trio learn through experience and deductive reasoning that they have been the unwitting victims of a mad scientist's final swan-song as they run for their lives throughout the mid-west United States and the west coast. The mad scientist, immediately after he injected a mysterious substance of unknown origin into their bloodstreams, informed them that they now represent his life's work and, as such, their lives are in as much mortal danger as his own. Not precisely sure what to make of this man, other than the fact that he had violated them and their lives, they shortly bear witness to the man's fiery death at the hands of golf-apparel-clad henchmen they can only assume are the aforementioned assassins.
During their flee to both freedom and, hopefully, safety, they learn that the substance which runs in their veins, whatever it is, has a very peculiar effect on them. The girl, Jillian Jackson, experiences foreboding visions; the traveling artist, Dylan O'Conner, can apparently receive psychic impressions of the previous handlers of inanimate objects; and the autistic simpleton, Dylan's younger brother Shephard O'Conner, begins to show signs of change which would be considered nothing short of miraculous for an autistic person- and he can teleport through time and space.
These three, throughout the journey from bad to worse to unbelievably terrifying, not only explore their new "gifts" but also each other and the changes to their own psyches by this mysterious wonder-drug. What they learn gives them pause and, perhaps, offers Humanity a fresh look at where it may be headed.
Possible spoilers below in the review:
Like much of Koontz's other books, this one is less horror/thriller and more sci-fi/speculative fiction. What's more is that, while definitely adventurous, it doesn't really do much for a person's ability to suspend disbelief. I found myself wanting more precise and technical information on how the drug affected our heroes in such a drastic manner, how they could warp space and time and how they could adapt so easily under such extraordinary circumstances- barring the fact that this is, after all, fiction. And I also would have liked a better insight to nanotechnology as it might be applied in the manner described in the book.
Koontz managed to spin a decent yarn, but he ended up falling flat with the ending, in my honest opinion. His character development, as usual, was stellar and his narrative description was quite solid. But the finer details and action just seemed... hollow. I found myself turning page after page in the hope that he would provide me with better answers than he had, that he wouldn't leave the audience sitting with a nebulous idea of just what the hell happened. I read the story and I felt that he had either not written significantly important portions of the backstory or it had been maliciously edited out in order to keep the book a manageable length.
In short: I was left wanting.
That is not to say that this wasn't a fun and entertaining read- it was! I simply felt, as a member of the audience, like my intelligence had been slightly insulted, like I'd been extremely underestimated.
If you're looking for a quick, simple story that reads like it could work as next summer's blockbuster strangers-thrown-together-to-become-buddies-flick, then By the Light of the Moon should not disappoint. If, however, you're in the market for something with a little more intellectual oomph, you might want to pass it up.