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Innocence by Dean Koontz
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Innocence

by Dean Koontz

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Addison Goodheart spent his whole life believing he was a monstrosity so horrible that the mere sight of his eyes sent people into such a rage of fear that they were immediately possessed of the notion they had to kill him. Even his own mother, although she did her best for 8 years, eventually felt the need to send him away. Finding his way to the city, happenstance led him to meet another in the same circumstance and the new “father” and son lived hidden away under the city for years. After his “father’s” death Addison ventured out alone one night and came across Gwyneth, also a loner with her own need to hide herself away from humanity. An unlikely and unforeseen friendship developed because they would “hold each other hostage to their eccentricities … they were made for each other”.

Addison immediately and unexplainably feels a need to help Gwyneth, who is quite obviously in some sort of terrible trouble. Neither Addison nor the reader knows just how much trouble they are about to encounter on a dark and snowy night in the non-too-distant future.

This book was not unlike others I have read by Mr. Koontz but I feel it’s his best effort in a long time. Innocence is a beautifully written book. Although this book is definitely a thriller, very much in the vein of Tick Tock, Mr. Koontz manages to paint lovely word pictures in the readers mind. At first it seems as if descriptive passages were just a little too long, but as I continued reading and began to understand that these descriptions were an integral part of Addison’s thinking I could enjoy them as really lovely writing. Addison, as the narrator, never really shares the specifics of place and time leaving much of that part of the setting up to the imagination of the reader. That seemed to work for this story.

Personally, I found this a very dark and, for lack of a better word, spiritual book. Both those elements fit in well with the story told and although I found the ending satisfying it also felt just the tiniest bit “preachy”. Maybe that was on purpose? After all, even Addison compares his story to a fable.

I enjoyed this book. Although their paths certainly do not cross, except in my imagination, I think Addison Goodheart and Odd Thomas would make fine friends.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
An engaging novel reminiscent of other Koontz works. Our butt-ugly hero meets socially retarded heroine--they fall in love. The story mostly humms along until the end when it gets interesting. As other reviewers have noted, our hero would like Odd Thomas, one of Koontz' other heroes. ( )
  buffalogr | Jan 6, 2015 |
A Beauty and the Beast type tale in which Addison Goodheart encounters a girl called Gwyneth. Addison is unspeakably ugly in some unspecified way,but is at the same time gentle and good. He lives beneath the city streets and comes out only at night.Into the city comes an unspeakable evil which threatens to end the world.
The author must be given best for writing a story which is so unusual.Just a pity that the ending turns out to be somewhat conventional. ( )
  devenish | Dec 21, 2014 |
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 |
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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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