Book Review - Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
I never know quite what to expect from a Dean Koontz novel. His latest, Life Expectancy, continues his current trend away from the bizarre supernatural and into personal "horror" storytelling.
Jimmy Tock enters the world on a stormy night amid chaos in the hospital. His grandfather is dying in one room, and his mother is giving birth to him in another. The grandfather experiences a final moment of lucidity, and proclaims five days of horror for Jimmy during his life, complete with specific dates. Meanwhile, a husband (who is a clown) goes on a killing spree in the hospital when his wife dies in childbirth. The clown and Jimmy Tock are forever linked together at that point, and their lives intersect throughout the five days of horror over the next 30 years. When it becomes obvious that the days in question are real and that the predictions will come true, Tock has to figure out how to survive them and keep everyone else in his life safe from harm.
When I first started reading Koontz, his material was supernatural horror from *way* out in left field. In fact, unless I knew someone's reading tastes well, I wouldn't recommend him as it was that strange and disturbing. Now he's become more "mainstream" in his storytelling, and the supernatural is much more toned down. The stories are often done in first person, like this one, so you get a real look into the mind of the main character. This story seems to take a lot of time setting up and telling about the first day of horror, and the other days tend to go by much faster. Conversely, you start getting the plot twists at that point, so it balances out. Koontz also has a way of turning a word or phrase that I really like. The main character is a baker, so much of the conversation is "spiced" with comparisons to certain types of pastry. The banter between him and his love interest is also very well done, and I enjoyed playing out those scenes in my head.
For fans of the earlier style of Koontz writing, you'll probably be disappointed. But those who like the "kinder, gentler" Koontz should find plenty in here to like.