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Life Expectancy: A Novel Hardcover – December 7, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Of all bestselling authors, Koontz may be the most underestimated by the literary establishment. Book after book, year after year, this author climbs to the top of the charts. Why? His readers know: because he is a master storyteller and a daring writer, and because, in his novels, he gives readers bright hope in a dark world. His new book is an examplar of his extraordinary work. Suspense is difficult to sustain; suspense that's buoyed steadily by humor, even as it deals with the most desperate of circumstances, is nearly impossible—yet Koontz manages it here. As in last year's brilliant Odd Thomas, Koontz writes again in the first person, employing a cleaner, more instantly accessible line than in some of his other work (e.g., this year's The Taking). His narrator is Jimmy Tock, a pastry chef in a Colorado resort town. On the day he was born, Jimmy's dying grandfather predicted five future dates that would be terrible for Jimmy; he might have mentioned, but didn't, the birth day itself, which sees a mass slaying by a bitter, deranged circus clown in the hospital where Jimmy is born. The bulk of the narrative concerns the first terrible day, about 20 years later, when the vengeful son of that clown takes Jimmy and a lovely young woman, Lorrie Hicks, hostage in the local library, with an eye toward destroying the town; Jimmy and the woman live to marry, but will they and their family survive the four subsequent terrible days? Like most of Koontz's novels, this one pits good versus evil and carries a persuasive spiritual message, about the power of love and family and the miracle of existence. As such it deals with serious, perennial themes, yet with its steady drizzle of jokes and witty repartee, it does so with a lightness of touch that few other authors can match. Koontz is a true original and this novel, one of his most unusual yet, will leave readers aglow and be a major bestseller. If the literary establishment would only catch on to him, it might be an award-winner too.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Critics found Life Expectancy somewhat, well, unexpected. From the master of horror, suspense, and SF comes a novel about love, family, and good versus evil, all wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy package. Sure, Koontzs newest novel contains variations of the horror elements that define his previous works (The Taking, The Face), but his characters are so endearing that its hard to see how anything bad could happen to them. In fact, despite his grandfathers prediction, Tommys five bad days turn out to be both a curse and a blessing. Reviewers found Koontz a great storyteller, despite a few overwritten parts, false cliffhangers, and hackneyed humor. Kudos to Koontz for taking risks in this bizarre, clever story.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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For example, here is a passage I loved:
"Here was a graduate of Hannibal Lecter University, ready for a career in hospitality services as the new manager of the Bates Motel."
This entire book was full of quips such as this. So if you are looking for a serious horror novel, you need to pass this one by.
It tells the story of Jimmy Tock, from the night he was born to many years later. On the night he was born, his grandfather was dying and comes out of a coma to make dire predictions about five dates in Jimmy's future.
I loved the character of Jimmy and the woman he ends up marrying. He is a baker who works his way up to pastry chef under the tutelage of his father, who is the pastry chef at a resort high in the Colorado Rockies.
Also, if you have a clown phobia, you might want to skip this book. The storyline is woven around a circus clown and also trapeze artists. Crazy, right? Right.
If you're looking for a quick, fun, nonsensical read, this should fill that niche for you.
Well done, Dean (may I call you Dean?), well done. I feel like I have had such a wonderful experience in reading this book that I should lie back and allow you to light my cigarette.
The story is told in the first person, a style I typically don't care for as much as 3rd person, but Dean employs his rather unique semi-humorous personality for the principle characters, which makes one smile often and has the effect of making the characters extremely likable. The antagonists are delightfully unlikeable, and seem at least slightly insane, which gives them an edge of unpredictability - by definition, one can't expect an insane person to always act rationally.
One thing I particularly enjoy about this specific style of personality which Dean sometimes uses is that the story is fundamentally entertaining by virtue of the main character(s), even apart from the story itself. That said however, the plot is superbly developed, and I found it very difficult to put down; as usual I started it on a Friday night (my rule of thumb for Dean's novels so I have time to complete it before it interferes too much with work), and I finished it Monday evening.
The essence of the plot revolves around "five terrible days" in the life of the main character, Jimmy Tock, and the suspense ebbs and flows around the approach and occurrence of these 5 days. The result was a roller-coaster of entertainment which I really enjoyed.
The ending is par excellence with a very unexpected twist. A few of Dean's books I've read ended weakly, but not this one - expect to be enthralled to the last chapter.
Well worth the money - a definite "buy" recommendation from me.