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Life Expectancy


Life Expectancy

I think that the title of Dean Koontz's latest novel, LIFE
EXPECTANCY, is a bit of a subtle jape. In the past, some critics
have maintained that Koontz writes the same novel over and over
again. Yet when he began stretching his creative muscles with some
heavy lifting outside the horror and supernatural genres, there
were complaints that he wasn't writing "Dean Koontz" novels. In
LIFE EXPECTANCY there are some familiar elements from both his
older and newer works. Koontz continues exploration into
spirituality through the filter of some quirky, eccentric
characters while seasoning the story with elements of suspense and
the supernatural. One constant remains, however: Koontz is
endearingly and compellingly readable.

The life of Jimmy Tock, the book's protagonist and narrator, is
profoundly fascinating. He was born at the very moment that his
paternal grandfather, Josef Tock, passed away --- and they were
both in the same hospital. Ironies of the circle of life aside, the
simultaneous events are made all the more memorable when Josef,
heretofore struck silent and unconscious by a stroke, suddenly sits
up and speaks, moments before his death. Josef calmly and
coherently predicts the time of Jimmy's birth, as well as his
length and weight. More ominously, however, Josef marks five dates
when Jimmy will have to face dark and terrible events.

This is a tremendous plot device, and Koontz masterfully makes full
use of it, bestowing upon Jimmy a life full of commonplace but
wonderful blessings while intertwining his fate, from the moment he
is born, with a family of madmen who are obsessed with Jimmy for
reasons that are ultimately made frighteningly clear.

Koontz, with a writing history that spans five decades and well
over forty novels, shows no signs of slowing down as he continues
to hone his already razor sharp abilities. What is perhaps most
noteworthy about LIFE EXPECTANCY, however, is that it is shot
through with an enthusiasm, an optimism, that one would not expect
from a writer who has been at the task for as long as Koontz. For
this reason, and many others, LIFE EXPECTANCY is a novel worth


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010

Life Expectancy
by Dean Koontz

  • Publication Date: October 25, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553588249
  • ISBN-13: 9780553588248