Tag Archives: Horror

Book Review: Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz

Sole Survivor by Dean R. Koontz - Reviews, Description ...

Here we are, readers, reviewing yet another Dean Koontz novel. Unlike Innocence, I was able to finish reading one, so you know it’s a good story. 😉 Originally published in 1997, Sole Survivor is still current. Yeesh, it is scary how much art is mirroring real life….  Brrr! But if you wanted to know more details about that, you would be watching the news. Since you are here, you want to know what to expect when you pick up Sole Survivor. Therefore, let us begin the description process….now:

The hero of this book is one Joe Carpenter. Thirty-seven years old, Joe used to be a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Post. Then, a year ago, his wife and daughters died in a plane crash on their way back from a trip to the east coast.

The grief and anger he feels over his loss led Joe to quit the Post and alienate most of his friends during the course of the past year. He can’t look at a crime scene without seeing his wife and daughters’ bodies rather than the real victims’; he can’t go a day without suffering panic attacks. During these episodes he imagines dying with his beloved family, feeling racked by guilt that he could not die with them, leaving him the sole survivor of the Carpenter clan.

Nevertheless, Joe has not taken the ultimate step to utter despair. He is desolate, certainly, but he hasn’t committed suicide yet. Mostly, this is due to the fact that he is not sure there is a life beyond this one. If he gets there and finds nothing but an empty void, he will still miss his wife and daughters. And if there is life after death, which he seriously doubts, then murdering himself will guarantee he never sees his family again.

All of this means that Joe is in a rut. He sold his and his family’s house and now lives in an apartment, waiting for the day he can wake up dead. He can’t drink or dope himself to death because doing so would eventually erase his memories. Since those are precious to him, he doesn’t overdo the beers. But he hasn’t been taking care of himself, either.

This morning, on the anniversary of the crash, he calls his mother-in-law. She’s the only one with whom he feels capable of discussing his grief and despair. She asks after his health and suggests he go back to writing, but he deflects her probing questions, convincing her to describe the sunrise at her Virginia home. Her voice has the same southern lilt that his wife’s did, and so he likes hearing her talk. Joe also wants to make sure she and his father-in-law are doing all right, since they’re still grieving, too.

Sole Survivor - Audiobook by Dean Koontz, read by Ryan Burke

Later on Joe goes to the beach. He’s hoping to lull himself into a mood where he can visit his wife and daughters’ graves later in the day without falling apart or getting violently angry. While he is there, drinking and watching the waves, a couple of young boys sidle up and ask if he is selling something. Joe tells them no, and they say that someone must think he is, because there are a couple of “cops” keeping tabs on him from further down the beach. Thanking the boys, who walk away, Joe soon gets curious and turns to spot the men they identified.

Neither man looks to be the regular variety of cop. They’re definitely interested in him, but Joe can’t guess why they should be. He dismisses them from his mind until he goes to the men’s room. Worried about being jumped, he pays a fourteen year old boy to scope out the territory for the two men. Coming back, the boy tells him he spotted one of the two men staring at a couple of bikini-clad women, one of whom is apparently deaf.

“Deaf?” Joe asks. The boy elaborates and states she kept pulling out and putting in a “hearing aid” in one ear. Paying the boy the rest of his promised money, Joe leaves the restroom and goes back to his place on the beach. Two young women set up next to him and, since he is wearing sunglasses, Joe can keep an eye on them without giving his suspicion away. They are watching him – and not the way young women usually watch men at the beach.

Using up the last of his beer, Joe decides these cops have picked him out of the crowd by mistake and ignores them. He packs up and heads to the cemetery. When he gets there, however, he finds a woman photographing the headstones of his wife and daughters’ graves. She tells him she is not ready to talk to him yet, then asks how he is coping with his loss. It doesn’t take a great detective to see he is in bad shape, mind you; she just needs a conversational topic.

Sole Survivor: Amazon.co.uk: Dean Koontz: 9780747254348: Books

Before their graveside chat can go any deeper, the two are interrupted by a screeching engine. Joe looks up to see a vehicle approaching the cemetery. It stops and the two men who were observing him at the beach jump out. Immediately, the woman takes off, and she is so fast that Joe can’t keep up with her in his poor condition.

His two shadows chase after the strange woman. Doubling back to their vehicle, Joe discovers a third man inside. Taking the brute by surprise, Joe subdues him before studying the interior of the van. Abandoning it, he races off before the thug can grab him. He gets shot at, but loses his pursuers, only to find he has picked up a helicopter instead. Discovering a tacking device on his car, Joe slaps it on a passing dump truck and goes to get some answers.

In the process, he learns there is a reason to keep living. Someone survived the plane crash that killed his family, which should be impossible. But apparently it isn’t and, on the off chance that the woman he met at the graveside can help him locate the survivor, Joe begins chasing after her. As he does he learns by inches why he was allowed to survive his family’s demise.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story for you, readers. In spite of the protagonist’s depair-induced whining about the world toward the beginning of the novel, this is a riveting book. Joe eventually gets whacked on the head enough times that he straightens up and flies right, naturally. Koontz doesn’t hold with wimps or whiners, though he occasionally writes about them. Sole Survivor is no different than the rest of his works in that respect.

A good read with a good ending, Sole Survivor is as timely today as when it was written. But you don’t need to take my word for it, readers. Pick up the novel at your earliest opportunity and discover how good a book this is yourselves!

‘Til next time!

Sole Survivor « Dean Koontz

Book Review: Innocence by Dean Koontz

Innocence – Dean Koontz | Penny Dreadful Book Reviews (Est ...

Whew! We are finally – finally – going to discuss another Dean Koontz novel! 🙂 Hang on to your hats, everyone; this one’s a doozy!

Innocence, by Dean Koontz, is a standalone novel about a man who is so ugly that he inspires everyone else to hate him on sight. This young man – Addison – lived alone with his Father, a man who was also considered sickeningly ugly, beneath a city for some time. Six years ago, Addison’s father died, and ever since our hero has lived alone.

Father was not Addison’s biological father. That man ran off before Addison was born, and so he never knew him. But Addison did know his mother, with whom he lived for eight years, before he had to leave and ended up in the city. It was while he was running from a gang of teens who had seen his hideous visage that he met his adopted Father.

Our hero cannot stay underground all the time, of course. He has to go to the surface from time to time to get food, which he usually has to take from closed stores at night. His Father had to do the same before him, and he taught Addison to leave money behind for the things they “bought” in this manner. At other times, Addison goes to the surface to visit the local library during the darkness, when no one can see him. On different occasions, he goes topside to watch the storms come and go.

This night, he heads to the surface to visit the library. While there, he hears a man shout and sees a woman roughly his own age racing away from her pursuer. Between the two of them, Addison and the girl manage to lose her hunter. But our hero finds he can’t leave the young woman alone; he can tell she needs help. So he offers to aid her in her dilemma.

Innocence (ebook) by Dean Koontz | 9780007518036

Cautiously the heroine of this tale, Gwyneth, agrees to accept Addison’s help. Naturally enough, though, she asks why he hides his face. Addison explains that he doesn’t want to scare her and, even though she says she doesn’t care about appearances, he insists on keeping his countenance hidden. Gwyneth eventually accepts this, then states her own rule: Addison is not to touch her or make skin contact with her. She cannot be touched – at all.

Thus we have a hero who can’t be seen and a heroine who can’t be touched. Curious yet?

If so, since I don’t want to spoil anything too much, let’s just say that the title Innocence is right on the nose. From the description I’ve offered here, it’s not hard to see a parallel between this novel and the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. While Addison is a most decidedly un-beastly character, I would be willing to bet that this fairy tale might have helped inspire Koontz to write this book. There are certain overtones that hint at Beauty and the Beast up until the middle of the story. From then on, though, the tale takes a different turn entirely.

To make this review perfectly honest, I have to admit that I never finished reading Innocence. It was too close to reality – and seemed too much like a prophecy – for me to complete it. A few pages from the finale, this blogger shut the book and put it away. So far, I haven’t had the nerve to read the last few pages, despite being told by a friend what happens at the end of the tale.

Perhaps I will be able to finish Innocence someday. But it will not be today. The book is written like The City, from the first person POV with short chapters that can be a paragraph in length. These will in turn preceed lengthier installments. The big difference is that this book has a more linear timeline than The City did.

I hope Innocence entertains you, readers, as it did me. Though I didn’t complete the book, I found the story to be sound and enjoyable. It is not a horror novelm and just because it didn’t work for me does not mean that you won’t like it. It just means this blogger has to get up the nerve to finish the novel at some point. 😉

‘Til next time!

Dean Koontz Quotes. QuotesGram