Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Books 33 & 34 of 2015: Velocity by Dean Koontz & To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Last year one of my colleagues at work realised that I would read pretty much any book he gave me, so took it upon himself to recommend me all the books he enjoyed. When Velocity showed up in the charity donation station, he suggested that I try it before putting it back in the box.

Velocity by Dean Koontz is about Billy, a guy who finds a note telling him to make a decision about who lives and who dies; either he ignores it and a schoolteacher is killed, or he goes to the police and an elderly charity worker will meet her end. He treats it as a hoax and ignores it, but then learns that someone fitting the schoolteacher's description on the note has been found dead. When another note shows up, Billy's not so sure this one is a hoax and he soon finds himself drawn into the killer's game.

This was my first Dean Koontz book thought I was familiar with him from a friend at school. He was really into the Dean Koontz books and I remember several trips to the library when he tried to get me to try one, but I wasn't into this sort of genre back then. Now, with my collection of Kathy Reichs books lined up on the bookshelf, it seemed a lot more my sort of thing.

I kind of have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I felt it was very brutal and gory, which I guess is kind of the point with this kind of a crime book. On the other hand, it did wrap up very neatly and it had a fairly happy ending as well (which I was quite glad of).

The character of Billy was interesting; a guy who gave up on pretty much all of his dreams of being a writer after his fiancée, Barbara, fell into a coma. I would have liked to know more about Billy and Barbara; there was obviously a massive back story there but we only got to scrape the very surface of it. By the same token, I think there was more to learn about Billy and his parents as well. Those stories could probably have been a whole book on their own.

Although the story was kind of complicated in places, I found it to be a fairly quick and easy read. I might pick up another Dean Koontz novel some day.

I followed up Velocity with To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, for Week 18 of the Reading Challenge; a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

It is a classic story about a small town in the American South, told through the eyes of Scout, a young girl. Her father is a lawyer defending a black man accused of attacking a white woman, something which divides the town and opens Scout's eyes to the world around her, while in the background looms the mysterious figure of Boo Radley. I'm completely over-simplifying this book because I just can't summarise it in a few words. Just read it.

I've read this book several times now and it's definitely an old favourite. I think I was lucky that I never had to read it for school. They had already studied it by the time I arrived in Scotland, and they studied it in England after I left. It meant that I have never had to pick it apart and over-analyse it the way that you sometimes have to do in English classes, so I was just able to read it and enjoy it for what it was.

I always try to pick just three quotes to write up in my book journal, sometimes I might stretch to four or five if they are short ones. It was so hard to just select three quotes to sum up the story. I could easily just copy out the whole book.

I love the character of Scout. In a way there are two Scouts in this book. There's the young Scout who is the central character in the story and then there is the older Scout who is narrating it, looking back on the events that helped shape her. Young Scout is so spirited and quirky, she's the sort of kid who you'd just want to be friends with; I'd love a child as cool as young Scout. Older Scout, who narrates the story, has a wonderful way with words; older Scout is the reason why I'd happily copy out the whole book into my book journal.

One of my favourite things about this book is the fact that it marries the day-to-day children's life stuff with the big serious stuff, like the trial. I can't help but remember my own childhood when I read it; the way that I tried to make sense of the stuff the adults did and talked about, and how my own 'stuff' seemed so important by comparison as well. This book captures the sense of that so well.

It's one of very few books that I can happily rank as a five star book, and I always look forward to rereading it. If you've never read it, you really should.


  1. I love Scout too. I thought the girl who played her in the film was excellent, but she never became a star.

    1. I still haven't actually seen the film, though it's on my wishlist for the future. I've always thought it'd take a really good actress to play Scout well so I'm glad I won't be disappointed when I do get around to seeing it.


Let me know what you think. :-)