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Innocence by Dean Koontz
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Innocence

by Dean Koontz

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I recently read "The City" by Dean Koontz - which I liked a great deal. That was a big departure from most of his previous books (which I enjoyed but would classify as good reads as opposed to good literature). I was so impressed with "The City" that I backed up and read "Innocence" - and enjoyed that even more.

The most telling line in the piece is, “But although this story is of the Modern Age, I have not written it for that age.” This is a fairy tale (complete with a character name of Goodheart) - but it is lush and beautiful and tragic and wonderful. The main character, Addison, has spent his life hidden away from the world. Anyone who looks at him feels immediate hatred and violence and fury. The reader is given to understand that something about him, something about his face is so horrific that even his own mother has been tempted to kill and - and drives him away when he is young. And yet. This character, whose life is so lonely and tragic and seemingly awful - is happy.

“To one degree or another, I have been happy most of my life. In part because the world has infinite charms if you wish to see them. Also, the world’s many mysteries fascinate me and inspire in me a hope so profound that I suppose, if I were to express it sincerely and at length in a manuscript more bluntly philosophical than this one, any normal person, those who walk freely in daylight, would find it the work of a Pollyanna and worthy only of ridicule. Of course I also have periods of sadness, for there is sorrow baked into the clay and stone of which the world is made.”

Addison's view of the world is just lovely - especially given how every person in the world looks back at him. Somehow, he does not hold the darkness in his heart - he sees the world clearly - and sees parts of it that no one else can.

“Nature is an exquisite machine that is never violent except when contending forces within it need to be rebalanced. And then the violence is nearly always short-lived, a day or two of storm, ten minutes of a tsunami, a minute for tectonic plates to shift and accommodate each other. Nature doesn’t make war for years on end, and she has no malice.”

To be fair - some parts of the book need work. While Koontz's writing style is far improved from past books - sometimes the reader still runs into a buzz saw of words like: “Gwyneth piloted the Land Rover as if she were a Valkyrie, from Viking lore, whose wings had been clipped, as if she needed urgently to find the fallen warrior assigned to her before he died and, in the moment when his soul emerged from his body, drive his spirit to Valhalla.”

I was very impressed with this book. With the tragic, quiet beauty of it - and with the ferocity of some of the emotions. Fairy tale though it might be, it is one written with our world in mind - with the great flaws of humanity exposed - and the great love of people for one another celebrated. ( )
  karieh | Sep 9, 2014 |
I have a hard time not dropping the now extant R from his name. Back in my teens, I read a lot of Dean R. Koontz, but then he got to be repetitive and boring so I stopped. People have said that he’s gotten better since so I gave this a go despite some very polarized reviews. I wanted something a bit unearthly and mysterious, but light. Pretty much I got it, but it was so disjointed that the story fell apart. Lots of coincidence that works in fiction if the upshot has a lot of importance - a conspiracy with no point is a let-down. With Addison and Gwyneth it really was. Oh sure it tried to be all symbolic with the end of rank and file humanity, the earth to be repopulated by this purely innocent Adam and Eve, but really I didn’t care. Besides that, the big reveal about Addison’s monstrous appearance was a snoozefest as well. The love story seemed a bit too distanced and one-sided (with Addison doing all the yearning and perceiving nothing like that in his beloved). Addison himself is too worldly wise for his age and circumstances no matter how many hours he spent at the feet of this wisdom-dispensing father or in the library. His philosophical musings and insights were unbelievable even if they were occasionally sensitive and touching. Also, Gwyneth's ability to do everything despite being young, sheltered and mental is just too much. All that driving as if she was a rally veteran, I don’t think so. Her unforthcoming and condescending attitude grated, too. Am I sorry I read it, no, it was a comforting and soothing experience, just one that doesn’t really linger or resonate. ( )
  Bookmarque | Aug 22, 2014 |
Innocence is one of those books where the whole is feel less than the sum of its parts. The main characters were quite interesting and the premise of the story was appealing. As a matter of fact, there really isn't anything wrong with the story other than it had far more potential than it actually realized. Koontz is a skilled writer and I feel like Innocence could have been much more than it was. But the pacing was very slow in the first half and stuffed far too many reveal in the last one hundred pages. As it stands, Innocence is an interesting story. However, I almost want Koontz to get a do-over because of what might have been. ( )
  csayban | Jul 5, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This review is based on an ARC.

I was not as disappointed in this latest novel as I have been with some of Koontz latest works.

I basically grew up reading Koontz' works, I found the author in my late teens and fell in love with his writing style. The good versus evil of the human spirit. He has grown as an author and I am very happy for him that he has grown in his own life. Unfortunately this growing as an author and as a person has effected what I loved about the early works, his style has changed and although he still makes me think deeper thoughts than most other authors, his books have become a litany of preaching. If I wanted to be preached to I would go to church.

The story is told from Addison's point of view. A person who is so horrible of visage that he has to live in the shadows, in solitude, by the dark of night. In his nightly wanderings, he comes upon girl being chased by a man. Seeing in her, somehow, a kindred spirit, he puts himself on the line and communicates with her. As the story unfolds, we learn things about Addison and his new found friend and the man that was chasing her. We learn about the horrible-ness of humanity and the powers of light and hope outside of it.

Although I like the aspects of Koontz' characters that are more than human, I feel he has lost all hope in the human race and now the characters have to be more than human to survive his worlds. ( )
  TwilightBlue | Jul 4, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was very different from Koontz's other books. The last few years he has really crammed a lot of proselytizing within his stories, which I really don't enjoy, and this book is no exception. ( )
1 vote sunqueen | Jun 27, 2014 |
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This book is dedicated to Harry Recard for being a friend, for teaching me pinochle in college and thereby ruining my academic career. And to Diane Recard for taking such good care of Harry all these years, an exhausting task.
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Having escaped one fire, I expected another.
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He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.
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Foraging for supplies by night in a beautiful but hostile urban world where strangers would kill him on sight, Addison endures a solitary existence before meeting a quicksilver girl engaged in a dangerous duel of wits with a malicious, well-placed enemy.… (more)

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