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Sole Survivor

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,494 Ratings  ·  506 Reviews
A catastrophic, unexplainable plane crash leaves three hundred and thirty dead--no survivors. Among the victims are the wife and two daughters of Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter.
A year after the crash, still gripped by an almost paralyzing grief, Joe encounters a woman named Rose, who claims to have survived the crash. She holds out the possibility of a s
Paperback, 403 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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James Lankford I'm struggling to get through it. It has been very slow for me - almost too much detail in trying to explain things. Kind of like using a gallon of…moreI'm struggling to get through it. It has been very slow for me - almost too much detail in trying to explain things. Kind of like using a gallon of words to express a spoonful of thought. I've considered abandoning it, but I've decided to stick with it.(less)
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26th out of 60 books — 114 voters
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24th out of 47 books — 128 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Quentin Wallace
This book to me was a mixed bag. On one hand, it was a pretty cool story, and the action near the end was very suspenseful and engaging. However, I also think the book could have been shorter and been much better. I find many books have an issue of just being too long which causes the story to drag. Perhaps it's just me, I'm not sure.

This story was very emotional and was a character study as well as a suspense story. I will admit I had guessed at least part of the big reveal, although not exactl
Nov 19, 2010 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A bit of Firestarter by Stephen King. A bit of Runner by Patrick Lee. A tragic plane accident turns into something so much more. Koontz takes you on a bizarre spiritual adventure questioning our mortality, destiny, and how far some might go to keep that knowledge/power for themselves and use it for evil.

While this story is packed with action and conspiracy, it will most likely leave you asking a lot of "What if?" questions about life as well.
Jan 01, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, thriller
Definitely on the short list of Koontz's best work, SOLE SURVIVOR is a wildly entertaining thriller with surprisingly ambitious emotional and spiritual underpinnings. Not only does it contain one of the most powerful hooks I've ever come across, but, in between scenes of grisly murders and exciting chases, Koontz aims to teach readers a little something about life. For a suspense novel, however, it all feels a bit overwritten. Koontz tries to imbibe SOLE SURVIVOR with the trappings of "serious l ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok
Reviewed first at Brunner's Bookshelf

I have to say that I am not a huge Dean Koontz fan. My wife was with his earlier work but there came a point when his books just got really weird and our interest faded. I have some of his books that I really liked, Tick Tock and Life Expectancy to name a few. This was another book that kept popping up in my hunt for horro books for the R.I.P. challenge. I figured I would give it a try. Let's just say I was expecting a horror novel and this isn't.

The book is
Carrie Luciano
Jul 23, 2012 Carrie Luciano rated it it was ok
I was really enjoying this book. Koontz as usual can develop wonderful characters that you really care about. It moved at a break neck speed for much of the book but I thought it petered out and was somewhat anti climactic in like the last 20 pages.
Jan 26, 2008 Cheri rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-attic
I certainly wasn't expecting this to turn into a preachy bs book.

Oh well.
Bark's Book Nonsense
Nov 04, 2010 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Joe Carpenter is a man paralyzed by grief and anger. On the one year anniversary of the plane crash that killed his beloved wife and daughters he visits their cemetery and spots a woman taking pictures of their grave marker. He approaches her and sets off a series of events that make him question if the death of his family and 300 others was the intentional work of officials attempting to cover up something that could possibly change mankind for all time. As he digs for the truth he witnesses an ...more
Mar 10, 2007 Hyejung rated it did not like it
Shelves: deankoontz
This is the worst of his books that I have read so far. As with most of his books, there is an interesting concept - cloning. However, the story, itself, was drab. I thought the main character was annoying and dumb. Of course, I understand his desire to find the daughter he thinks is alive, but the way he acted really frustrated me and I never really felt any sympathy for him except in the beginning when I didn't know his character well enough. I could actually say that I almost skimmed this who ...more
Michael Jensen
Sep 21, 2015 Michael Jensen rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Made it through 30% before I finally gave it up. I've only read a few Koontz books and wasn't impressed by what I did read. Sole Survivor only confirms that I'm not a Koontz fan.

You'd think it would be pretty difficult to make a man who lost his wife and two daughters in a plane crash unsympathetic, but Koontz makes it look easy. The first 20% of the book is the main character going on and on and on about he's suffering, miserable, angry, unable to ever move on, yadda yadda yadda. We get it. The
Jennifer Shevchik
Aug 24, 2008 Jennifer Shevchik rated it it was ok
Well my second Dean Koontz was not as good as my first experience.

I was disappointed with this story. I felt for the main character, however, I was just bored with the entire story. The ending was not what I was hoping it would be. Not only that but they didn't tie up any loose ends, it just ended. He takes the time to explain things that do not matter that much in great detail, but then doesn't wrap up the story. Blah.
Mike (the Paladin)
I discovered once I got into this book that I remembered the movie based on it (very loosely based). My daughter tells me I actually tried to read it once before and laid it aside.

I can sort of see why.

For a long, long (long,long,long,long) time this book does try the patience. Our protagonist is in despair over the sudden loss of his family in a plane crash. The event is a year in the past but Joe Carpenter is still shattered.

And he tells us about it...he loses control, he creeps out strangers
David jones
Feb 12, 2016 David jones rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dean-koontz
This book is good. I think that the plot was excelent, the characters were really well developed and the book, overall, was great. This is the first Koontz book I have actually completed, after having read half of dark rivers of the heart, and he is a fairly good writer. He is no Stephen King, but the book was real good. It took me by surprise several times. When the I read the back of it I thought it would be an action book, and it is, in a sense, though there is really not much action. It is m ...more
Nov 18, 2009 Natalie rated it it was ok
I can't quite put my finger on what turned me off to this book. I think it's probably how depressing most of it is. The main character has lost his wife and both his children in a plane crash. This horrible experience is even worse for him because of the fact that he lost all belief in God as a young man. For most of the book, we experience his adventures from the point of view of a grieving husband and father without the comfort of a knowledge of what comes after this life. The strange experien ...more
Sarath Krishnan
Nov 01, 2012 Sarath Krishnan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sky is deep, the sky is dark.
The light of stars is so damn stark.
When I look up, I fill with fear.
If all we have is what lies here,
this lonely world, this troubled place,
then cold dead stars and empty space...
Well, I see no reason to persevere,
no reason to laugh or shed a tear,
no reason to sleep or ever to wake,
no promises to keep, and none to make.
And so at night I still raise my eyes
to study the clear but mysterious skies
that arch above us, as cold as stone.
Are you there, God? Are we alo
Jan 05, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: all
“Sole Survivor” is more of a mystery book than an action or horror novel. Koontz introduces you to Joe Carpenter, an investigative journalist who is trapped in despair after a commercial plane crash takes his wife and children. It is clear that something is being covered up, but neither you nor Joe have any idea what that is. The book is a roller coaster ride as Joe strives to reveal the facts. What is being covered up about his family’s deaths? Why does it appear that someone is still trying to ...more
May 15, 2013 Ed rated it it was ok
I've read quite a lot of Dean Koontz books, predominantly when I was a lot younger. After I had ran out of Stephen King and James Herbert books I picked up on Koontz and thoroughly enjoyed many of his novels. Midnight and Twilight Eyes are irrepressibly brilliant. Watchers, The Bad Place and Lightening quite superb also. Icebound a well crafted take on Alistair McLean's Ice Station Zebra.

Unfortunately Sole Survivor is none of these things. It doesn't start badly at all and although it develops s
Aug 14, 2013 Rissy rated it it was ok
Shelves: dean-r-koontz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Souza
Apr 05, 2011 Mark Souza rated it it was amazing
Sole Survivor was the first Dean Koontz novel I'd ever read. If only they were all this good. I was in working in Germany at the time and found it on a desk I was using temporarily. I had a lot of down time so I started reading. I was quickly sucked in. I got very little sleep from the time I started till I finally finished a few days later. It didn't hurt that the story was set in my home town of Seattle.

The story starts with a reporter unable to cope with the deaths of his wife and daughter i
Nov 02, 2015 Toni FGMAMTC rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, suspense, thriller
Wow that was a freaky read! I was mega nervous for most of it, and I didn't see many of the turns coming.
Steve Lee
Oct 09, 2014 Steve Lee rated it it was ok
Perhaps it is just me, but this book ultimately seemed to be little more than the preaching and proselytising of a religious fundamentalist. At one stage in the book, a prominent biologist even goes to lengths to condemn evolution in the manner that only a creationist lunatic would. It was almost like reading the AIG website or a Jehovah Witness Watchtower pamphlet.

I am currently reading another of his novels (The Taking) and find that this, too, is interjected with out-of-place statements and
Duncan Mandel
SUMMARY: A catastrophic, unexplainable plane crash leaves three hundred and thirty dead -- no survivors. Among the victims are the wife and two daughters of Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter.A year after the crash, still gripped by an almost paralyzing grief, Joe encounters a woman named Rose, who claims to have survived the crash. She holds out the possibility of a secret that will bring Joe peace of mind. But before he can ask any questions, she slips away.Driven now by rage (ha ...more
03 Dawson B
Mar 18, 2014 03 Dawson B rated it it was amazing
The main issue of the book is that Joe Carpenter's wife and two daughters die in a plane crash that he knows hardly anything about. He meets this woman Rose and finds out more things about the plane crash and what really happened. This book is intended for young adults and adults. The setting cannot be changed that much at all because it really only has one setting to it. Joe Carpenter is a protagonist. He is very intelligent, but very depressed. Rose is a antagonist, she is very strong and very ...more
Adam Czarnecki
Jun 01, 2010 Adam Czarnecki rated it did not like it
After "Odd Thomas," I thought I'd give Dean Koontz another try with something that sounded pretty intriguing. It WAS intriguing, but that's about it. The characters are so dull and lifeless, I could not care what happened to any of them. Things seemed to rush along just for the sake of plot, with "Joe" (the main character) often having spur-of-the-moment revelations that went along with whatever direction the plot needed.

Really, really stupid.
Feb 05, 2015 Pheebz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: koontz
You meet Joe Carpenter. a journalist and crime reporter who lost his wife Michelle and two little girls Chrissy & Nina in the fatal crash of Flight 353, No survivors 350 dead including the two pilots.I has been almost a year since the crash.
While Joe is paying his respects at his family's grave sites, He notices a woman taking pictures of the headstones.She introduced herself as Rose Tucker and that she has something to tell him, and handed him a slip of paper.Rose had told him "Your not rea
Jul 17, 2014 Sam rated it did not like it
Just reading the premise of the story sent shivers down my spine!
The story started off brilliant and intense, I kept doing the 'just one more chapter routine' until I was almost half way into the book.
At this point it raises so many questions as to what exactly happened to the plane, but in the last few chapters it is all explained in what feels like a mash of two different stories.
At first everything is so believable as it's well written you are very involved in the story which is why the end
Jul 05, 2015 Hannah rated it it was ok
This is my first Dean Koontz book. I knew that he dealt with the supernatural but other then that I didn't know anything about the book. The book is about Joe Carpenter whose wife and two daughters die in a plane crash along with everyone else on the flight. Joe has a horrid year and on the anniversary he goes to their graves. There he encounters Rose. She claims to be the sole survivor of the plane crash and she has information for him. And then scary guys jump out of a van and Joe's whole life ...more
Mystic Valraven
Jun 06, 2015 Mystic Valraven rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of the best Dean Koontz books that I have read to date. This was a beautiful story with tragedy, drama, tenderness, action, suspense and a lovely ending that leaves you believing that there is something wonderful waiting for us after this life.
Becky Seabaugh
Oct 29, 2014 Becky Seabaugh rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I'd like to give this book 4 stars, but it was a little too weird. 3 1/2 stars from me.
Christina Nina
Jan 26, 2016 Christina Nina rated it it was ok
This book definitely had the potential to be a great one. However, I quickly started to feel like the author was trying to play tricks on me. I kept being led into scenarios that made me anxious for answers, but then I would be left waiting so long for any kind of hint or clue that I'd forget why I was anxious before.

The story took a while to take off, but once it seemed to do so, I was intrigued and had high expectations for how everything would unfold. As Joe began questioning the surviving f
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  • The Eyes of Darkness
  • The Voice of the Night
  • The Fall of the Dream Machine / The Star Venturers (Ace Double, 22600)
  • Dragonfly
  • Dance with the Devil
  • Invasion
  • Fountain Society
  • Guardian
Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean R. Koontz has also published under the na
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“Only the human spirit can act with volition and consciously change itself; it is the only thing in all creation that is not entirely at the mercy of forces outside itself, and it is, therefore, the most powerful and valuable form of energy in the universe. For a time, the spirit may become flesh, but when that phase of its existence is at an end, it will be transformed into a disembodied spirit once more.” 1 likes
“Once, when cornered by a pinwheel-eyed man who insisted that the mayor of Los Angeles was not human but a robot controlled by the audioanimatronics department at Disneyland, Joe had lowered his voice and said, with nervous sincerity, “Yes, we’ve known about that for years. But if we print a word of it, the people at Disney will kill us all.” He had spoken with such conviction that the nutball had exploded backward and fled.” 1 likes
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