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Innocence: A Novel Hardcover – December 10, 2013
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*Starred Review* Addison Goodheart, who must never be seen, and last-nameless Gwyneth, who must never be touched, meet sensationally cute at the end of evading a big, enraged man shouting that he’ll kill her. Confronting one another by the Dickens collection of the grand central library of a never-named American metropolis, they realize, as he says, that “we’re made for each other.” Love at first sight, though heavily impeded (by his clothes and her makeup), saves both them and the story time, which they need because her would-be rapist-murderer is about to find her, no matter her many hideouts, and which the reader relishes because this is as speedy a chase-thriller as any Koontz, a past master of the form, has ever constructed. Written in Koontz’ late mellifluent and reflective manner (Addison ponders as well as reveals his backstory in many flashbacks), the book is also another of his moral thrillers, fueled by deep disgust with the world’s evils—especially abusive violence, especially against children—and by definite, though idiosyncratic, Christian hope for redemption. And so this entrancing romance resolves, like Koontz’s The Taking (2004), apocalyptically, in a new Earth. --Ray Olson
“A thriller that’s both chilling and fulfilling.”—People (four stars)
“Laced with fantastical mysticism, it’s an allegory of nonviolence, acceptance and love in the face of adversity. . . . The narrative is intense, with an old-fashioned ominousness and artistically crafted descriptions. . . . An optimistic and unexpected conclusion [mirrors] his theme. Something different this way comes from Mr. Koontz’s imagination. Enjoy.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Mystery and terror, the paranormal and romance—all combine to make Innocence a challenging and emotional experience.”—New York Journal of Books
“This novel really is something special. . . . This may just be the book Dean Koontz was born to write.”—Thriller Books Journal
“Entrancing . . . as speedy a chase-thriller as any Koontz . . . has ever constructed. Written in Koontz’ late mellifluent and reflective manner . . . [Innocence is] fueled by deep disgust with the world’s evils [and] hope for redemption.”—Booklist (starred review)
“[An] imaginative, mystical thriller from bestseller Koontz . . . This is the most satisfying Koontz standalone in a while.”—Publishers Weekly
“Masterful storyteller Koontz delivers perhaps his most eerie and unusual tale to date. The timeline in this amazing story is compact, and readers will be swept along as they try to unravel hints and clues as to the true nature of both the protagonists and the unfolding drama. Unpredictably spine-chilling and terrifying, this is a story readers won’t soon forget.”—RT Book Reviews
“Elegant . . . Fans of Koontz’s previous series will be left hoping that Addison and Gwyneth, too, will return.”—Library Journal
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On a personal note - Dean Koontz (while being one of my favorite authors) is also high on my list of really good people. I don't know him personally & never even met him, but contacted him and asked for a donation of a signed book to auction off for an animal rescue non-profit fundraiser with little hope of hearing back since I hadn't gotten responses from other authors I'd contacted . He very kindly and generously sent a signed copy of A Big Little Life". I'm sure he gets requests all the time and I was amazed and grateful that he responded.
In "Innocence", Addison Goodheart (even the name is a signal) is a loner hiding in the underworld of subway tunnels and long forgotten underground hidey holes who must hide his appearance from everyone lest he be brutally attacked and/or killed by those repulsed by his facial features and his eyes. He may be the sweetest character in literature to have bravely lived through parental abandonment, repulsion from mankind, and a miserable lonely existence. During a middle of the night excursion into the city library, he meets Gwyneth, a girl who cannot stand to be touched and seemingly with as much baggage as Addison possesses. Gwyneth seems to harbor answers but refuses to share them at critical junctures. Thrown together amidst a worldwide breakout of the Plague (which is truly underplayed), this oddest of couples must bond to fight a common foe while sensing they are meant to be special to one another. "Innocence" is at its root, a story of love in its many manifestations and the enduring character of the human spirit.
For this reader, Koontz' stylings have lost the thrilling suspense and edge of your seat tension that his earlier works seemed always to generate. Now we know how the tale will end almost from the first chapter, we just have to stay on the ride to see how it gets there. For me, there was no compelling force driving me to read chapter after chapter in one sitting; indeed, one of the major weaknesses of "Innocence" is very poor pacing and the author's reluctance to get to the action at hand. The entire book is ponderously slow to read with almost no action to move the plot. Indeed, outside of their afflictions, Addison and Gwyneth are two dimensional characters plodding through a pedestrian plot until a somewhat hurried "surprise" ending which may or may not be its sole redeeming feature--again, it seems based on which side of Neo-Koontz one is on.