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Your Heart Belongs to Me Hardcover – November 25, 2008

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Book Description

From the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense comes a riveting thriller that probes the deepest terrors of the human psyche—and the ineffable mystery of what truly makes us who we are. Here a brilliant young man finds himself fighting for his very existence in a battle that starts with the most frightening words of all…

At thirty-four, Internet entrepreneur Ryan Perry seemed to have the world in his pocket—until the first troubling symptoms appeared out of nowhere. Within days, he’s diagnosed with incurable cardiomyopathy and finds himself on the waiting list for a heart transplant; it’s his only hope, and it’s dwindling fast. Ryan is about to lose it all…his health, his girlfriend Samantha, and his life.

One year later, Ryan has never felt better. Business is good and he hopes to renew his relationship with Samantha. Then the unmarked gifts begin to appear—a box of Valentine candy hearts, a heart pendant. Most disturbing of all, a graphic heart surgery video and the chilling message: Your heart belongs to me.

In a heartbeat, the medical miracle that gave Ryan a second chance at life is about to become a curse worse than death. For Ryan is being stalked by a mysterious woman who feels entitled to everything he has. She’s the spitting image of the twenty-six-year-old donor of the heart beating steadily in Ryan’s own chest.

And she’s come to take it back.

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Dean Koontz on Writing Your Heart Belongs to Me

I have been asked by the secret masters of Amazon how much research into transplant surgery I did before writing Your Heart Belongs to Me. I would like to reveal that, in the interest of accuracy and the accumulation of vivid detail, and because I bring total commitment to my writing, I underwent a heart transplant myself, even though I didn't need one. This would be a lie, however, and people without a sense of humor would write by the hundreds to accuse me of taking a perfectly good heart needed by some patient who really needed it.

To prepare for this novel, I read a few books on the subject of transplants, watched two educational films during which I passed out repeatedly at the sight of blood, and spoke with a few medical specialists in the field--largely to ascertain how they manage not to pass out in surgery every time they expose the pulsing internal organs of a patient.

Ryan Perry, the lead of Your Heart Belongs to Me, is 34, wealthy from the Internet social-networking site that he created, with an ideal life ahead of him. Then he learns he suffers from cardiomyopathy and will die within a year if he does not undergo a heart transplant. The procedure is successful, but a year later he begins to receive gifts--such as a heart-shaped locket--with the message "Your heart belongs to me. I want it back."

Although it might seem to be a ghost story, Your Heart Belongs to Me is something else entirely. In addition to being a thriller with a medical procedure as a key element, it is an unusual love story. Those who have never read my books--we know who you are--might be surprised to learn that more often than not, a love story is part of the mix. In a romantic relationship, we're vulnerable; and when a character in a novel is vulnerable, we are more likely to worry about him or her and to relate more intimately to the story. Furthermore, people in love have something precious to lose, and in their sometimes desperate efforts to hold fast to that love, they reveal themselves more profoundly than they might otherwise.

In the early years of my career--or what we here in Koontzland call "the long slog"--publishers resisted me when I wanted to mix genres. These days, my publisher encourages me to pursue fresh ways of telling stories. Consequently, Your Heart Belongs to Me is a suspense novel and love story with a thread of the supernatural weaving through it, set against a backdrop of medicine and medical mystery, concerning certain issues of ethics that are timeless--and others that are unique to our time. And I promise you that the medical detail is not so graphic that you will pass out.

A Q&A with Dean Koontz

Q: Your Heart Belongs to Me is very suspenseful but at the same time an affecting love story. How difficult was this to pull off?
A: Well, life is full of suspense and, if we're lucky, it's full of love as well. From minute to minute and day to day, we never know what will happen to us, good or bad, so suspense is the fundamental condition of existence. That doesn't change when we fall in love or when we love a child or a sibling or a great dog. In fact, the more we love, the more we have to lose, which puts a sharper edge on the suspense in life and in Your Heart Belongs to Me. Ryan Perry, the lead of the story, enjoys self-made wealth and good health and the love of a good woman--so when all that starts to slip away from him, it's actually easier for me to move readers to the edge of their seats and keep them there.

Q: Your books are full of details about how things work in the real world--like life in a monastery in Brother Odd, the management of a great Bel Air estate and the intricacies of police work in The Face, Your Heart Belongs to Me is rich with details about medical conditions and heart transplants. Since you don't specialize in one kind of novel, how do you learn about all these different things? Do you engage in a lot of Internet research?
A: I never go on-line. My writing schedule and other obligations keep me busy 18/7. The other six hours, I sleep. I know that I am a potentially obsessive personality and that it's easy to become obsessed with one aspect or another of the Internet, until hours a day are consumed by it. Therefore, I stay away. I do most of my research from books and publications, and by conducting interviews with specialists in whatever fields my story will touch upon. One of my assistants is on-line, and in a pinch, if I can't turn up a fact I need, she can get it for me. As a high-school and college student, I hated research and libraries. I always shamelessly made up the facts in reports that I wrote, and cited nonexistent books by nonexistent writers in my footnotes. And I always got away with it! But as a novelist, I've been surprised to find that I greatly enjoy doing research. I think the difference is--in school, they told me what I had to learn, and I bristled at authority; when I chose the subject, I proved to be an industrious autodidact.

Q: Your hero in Your Heart Belongs to Me, Ryan Perry, is different from your other heroes, like Odd Thomas and Mitchell Rafferty and Tim Carrier. What was it about the story you were telling in Your Heart Belongs to Me that required this change?
A: Most of my heroes come from ordinary occupations--a fry cook, a baker, a mason, a gardener, a bartender--which makes them like many of my friends in real life. But Ryan Perry in Your Heart Belongs to Me has made a couple hundred million from an Internet business. For this story, I needed a hero who, at the opening, has everything: he's wealthy, he has a beautiful girlfriend whom he loves and who loves him, he essentially leads a life of leisure at 34, he's vigorous and handsome and charming.... And then everything that really matters begins to slip away from him. He had to be at the top in order to be at risk of a long fall. As he begins to think that some people in his life are involved in a conspiracy to kill him, he needed to be a man of exceptional resources to pursue that investigation.

Q: Where did the idea for Your Heart Belongs to Me come from?
A: I was on the phone with a friend, talking about a smorgasbord of things, when the subject of heart transplants came up, and he told me something, an anecdote, that astonished me. Before I hung up, I had spun that small fact into a story that I couldn't wait to write. I've already made it clear to him that he gets no royalties! Story ideas have come to me from lines in songs, from a scrap of overheard conversation, from just about everywhere. And sometimes a story pops into my head, and I have no idea what the source of it was. Thank God this keeps happening; otherwise I might have to learn an honest trade like plumbing.

Q: What is next for you? Another Odd Thomas novel?
A: There will be three more Odd Thomas novels, but my book for spring 2009 is not one of them. It's titled The Other Side of the Woods and is in the vein of Life Expectancy. I'm having great fun with it. Even when writing is hard, I always have fun with it. In fact, the harder it is, the more fun it is, because the challenge is what makes the work worthwhile.

From Publishers Weekly

After the sophistication and ingenuity of such recent Hitchcockian thrillers as The Husband and The Good Guy, bestseller Koontz stumbles in this pallid effort. Ryan Kelly, a 34-year-old Internet entrepreneur, has it all, including an attractive journalist girlfriend he wants to marry, Samantha Reach, and a house in a gated community in Newport Coast, Calif. Harsh reality intrudes when he learns he has a serious heart defect and must get a transplant. Fortunately, a compatible donor turns up in time, but then someone launches a reign of psychological terror that leaves Ryan suspicious of Samantha and his longtime servants. The ultimate plot payoff is unworthy of this gifted author, as are patches of ponderous prose (With the moon still tethered to the eastern horizon but straining higher, with the giant pepper tree occluding most of the eternally receding stars, the time to talk of death had come). Koontz fans can only hope for a return to form next time. (Nov. 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (November 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807134
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By azgrad VINE VOICE on January 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big Dean Koontz fan but this one just doesn't work. The premise was a great one and I looked forward to reading the story. But it drags from the start (this is the first time I've actually skimmed over paragraphs in a Koontz novel) and the intertwining of supernatural with reality just doesn't fit together this time. The story picked up a bit post-transplant (more than half-way through the book though) but the ending is a major disappointment. No spoilers here - but there are certain events that just don't make sense, the supernatural seemed out of place and the ending itself is extremely unrealistic and unfulfilling. Koontz can do much better and hopefully next time he will.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jake on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ryan Perry made a fortune after he created the internet's largest social networking website. Only thirty-four years old, Ryan is one of the wealthiest men in the country and has everything a man could want. Even his love life is better than he could have hoped, and he has no doubt Samantha is the one he will spend the rest of his life with.

One fateful day while Ryan is surfing he feels an intense pain in his chest, scaring him enough to visit the doctor. His worst fears are confirmed when he discovers he needs a heart transplant to live. As Ryan waits for a donor his world is torn apart by strange events and suspicions that he has no answer for. He begins to believe that those who are closest to him may be responsible for his medical condition. His search for the truth will lead him down a dark road that could destroy him in ways he never imagined.

Your Heart Belongs to Me might be one of the most unique novels of Koontz's career. Depending on your perspective, that can be good or bad. It's hard to fit this story into one clear cut genre. While there are terrifying moments, this is not a horror novel. Much of the story is full of drama, emotion, and romance, yet this is not a typical love story. This novel is very suspenseful, but driven at a much slower pace than Koontz's previous works.

Much of Koontz's early career was highlighted by suspenseful stories with both supernatural and horror elements. Many of his die hard fans still want that from him, and subsequently are quick to turn on his later works that are full of powerful explorations of light overcoming the darkness. While I enjoy many of the vintage Koontz novels, I have also thoroughly enjoyed his more recent approach to storytelling. This latest offering is certainly no exception.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It was hard to believe this was a Dean Koontz book. The story never really grabs you. I didn't care about the characters and kept wondering where is this all going? It's all over the place. Not what I expected. No one bats 1000 so with the amount of times he comes to bat and delivers, I guess we can forgive him.
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60 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on November 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I look forward every spring and fall to the two Koontz books that I know will come as surely as the seasons change. I have yet to be disappointed in any of his books and I can also say that for Your Heart Belongs to Me. I know that some Dean Koontz fans are disappointed when a new book doesn't resemble each and every book he has already written. It is a matter of perspective. I enjoy the variety that Koontz serves up.

Your Heart Belongs to Me fits nicely with books such as The Husband and The Good Guy; stories that deal with psychological stress on the protagonist and by extension the reader.

The story here is strong and certainly plausible. Ryan Perry, a self made millionaire is living the life most of us would do anything to have. Bright, rich, popular, Perry is living the American dream though he is just a little paranoid in my opinion. Then, like so many of us have experienced, that charmed life is threatened by a medical crisis, in this case, cardiomyopathy, a condition that can't be corrected without a heart transplant. Short of that, the condition is a death sentence. Since Ryan is young and vibrant, and has the money, a viable heart is found and life is once again becomes good. Well, maybe. In no time Ryan's life turns creepy; perhaps the transplant won't work out. This is where Koontz excels, finding the weird in the normal everyday things we all take for granted. Then, of course, who is really behind it all?

Dean Koontz does a wonderful job developing the story though some may feel it is just a bit contrived. I don't! The characters are certainly believable, the story is well developed, and in classic Koontz style, wastes no time in grabbing your attention and moving you along.

I highly recommend.

Peace to all.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. Baxter VINE VOICE on January 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan. I've read 50+ of his works and look forward to many more. I got this book for Christmas and plowed through it pretty quickly. I'm not sure I let everything sink in the first time. This is a very interesting Koontz and a little different from a lot of his. The protagonist, Ryan, is a complex character and the story is told with a very tight focus around him. Many things go on in the beginning to middle of the book that really aren't understood until the end and even then you should not be expecting the answers to slap you in the face. The understanding of these things is more deep and subtle than a cursory reading will at first reveal. It is there and readers should dwell on the meaning of this one a bit.
Overall this would not be my first recommendation to someone new to Koontz but a good read for someone looking for something worthy of deeper consideration than the typical industry thriller. There's not a ton of action but more psychologically taut scenes that flow one to another. Thank you very much, Dean, for another top-notch novel for thinking readers.
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