Monday, February 3, 2014

Innocence by Dean Koontz

Although Dean Koontz is a bestselling author, I’ve never read any books by him before. This is very odd since his books often contain elements of fantasy and science fiction and I’m a big fan of both. I read excellent reviews of his newest book, Innocence, as well as the fact that the New York City central library is an important part of the story, and I decided to give it a try.

Innocence is a take on the Beauty and the Beast story. The narrator is a 26-year-old who lives in solitude under the streets of New York. He, and the man he called Father, strike such fear and loathing in those who see them that the others are driven to extreme violence. They survive through the goodness of one man who has given them a key to a food and thrift store serving the needy. They emerge at night and keep their faces and eyes hidden at all times.

We know at the beginning of the tale that Addison Goodheart’s foster father is no longer with him. Addison’s story is spun out slowly, moving between the present and his past. We find out about the mother who was repelled by him but nonetheless saved him as an infant and raised him through early childhood. We find out how he met his foster father. 

Early in the narration, Addison visits the library at night, when he expects it to be empty. Instead, he sees a slender teenaged girl, made up to look like a spooky marionette, running from a furious man in a suit shouting death threats and more at her. The girl, Gwyneth, escapes the man, and she and Addison become acquainted. Gwyneth, also an orphan, has issues of her own, and she also lives a solitary life. The man, a powerful and evil man, indeed wants to kill her, and Addison and Gwyneth are drawn together against him.

I enjoyed the story. Although the true nature of Addison’s situation did not surprise me, other things did. I was surprised by plot points along the way, and by the thoroughness of the book’s resolution.  It was a little too fairy tale for me, but still satisfactory.  I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling the book for others.

Innocence left me more thoughtful than I expected. I will definitely pick up another Dean Koontz book to read. If you like a well-written thoughtful thriller dealing with good and evil and the nature of mankind, I recommend Innocence.

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