Setting is a useful narrative tool used by writers. It assists in developing a character's profile, presenting values and attitudes and generally develops the plot. Some authors rely on setting more so than others, depending on how strong they wish their values and attitudes to emerge. Dean Koontz, the author of Sole Survivor, relies on setting strongly. Koontz uses the narrative tool two ways, firstly as a physical dimension and secondly as a cultural dimension. An example of the physical is the way he establishes Joe's moods and emotions and culturally the way he portrays his values and attitudes. Two of the most important settings related to individuals are Joe's apartment and the laboratory. This is where the readers develop their views towards Project Ninety-nine and Teknologik, while society's negative image is portrayed through the settings of the beach and the toilet. .
Joe's apartment resembles his emotions and outlook on life; by the way Koontz uses descriptive language. Koontz describes Joe's apartment in great detail, as it assists in the readers understanding of Joe's living arrangements and the "real" Joe. The quote from the opening sentence reads " Joe Carpenter woke, clutching a pillow to his chest, calling his lost wife's name in the darkness." This opening sentence revels Joe's inner being- he too is in darkness and lost, he has lost all he has to live for, his wife. Koontz then continues describing the apartment, "His bed, which consisted of nothing but a mattress on the floor, was the only furniture- and "The studio apartment was one large room with a kitchenette, a closet, and a cramped bathroom- The use of description throughout this setting describes the apartment as simple, empty and has no luxuries, all very closely related to Joe. Joe is also empty, as he has no family, beliefs, purpose to life and can no longer feel any emotions inside. This setting is important to Joe's character as it establishes his outlook on life and the fact that he is lost.