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Book Review

Book Cover

Innocence (Hardback)


Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: HarperCollins
RRP: £18.99, US $27.95
ISBN: 978 0 00 751801 2
Publication Date: 02 January 2014

Addison Goodheart lives in the tunnels beneath the city, shunned by the surface society, Addison’s visage is enough to make ordinary people want to kill him on sight, even his own mother made him leave as she could no longer bare to look at him. He survived with the help of another like himself, who took him in and protected him, up to the point where he was caught out in the open and killed. Alone, Addison finds solace in literature and it is during one of his night-time forays into the city library that he meets Gwyneth, after he rescues her from a man intent on killing her. Together, these two are bound, but unknown to themselves a greater destiny is about to unfold.

Innocence (338 pages) is the new novel from Dean Koontz. Koontz has a real knack for making the reader care about the outsider, a skill he has demonstrated in many of his books. Addison is a particular type of outsider, although not specifically mentioned, the reader will assume that Addison is so ugly, not just his face, but also his eyes and hands that when he meets ordinary people they are driven to try and take his life. Koontz details his tragic birth, where even the attending nurse wanted him dead to his eventual expulsion from his family home.

Although what it is about him that makes people feel this way is fully explained, it does make the first half of the book a little odd, after all just how ugly does one have to be to create murderous feelings in a world which celebrates the life of the elephant man. In order to protect himself he covers his body, a hoodie for his head and only goes out at night when there are less people around.

When he meets Gwyneth she is also not without her own issues, heavily made up she cannot stand the touch of another human being, as Addison points out they are bound together by their eccentricities. In fact the best aspect of the book is the exploration and development of the relationship between the two outsiders. This was the part of the book which I found the most pleasurable.

But a story of two outsiders may not be to everybody’s tastes and so early on Koontz intimates that something big is happening. I won’t spoil your enjoyment by revealing what it was, but the transition from intimate relationship to what the story eventually becomes felt a little like two ideas which have been joined together, the transition from the small to the big didn’t feel altogether successful.

It’s not hard to see where Koontz got the idea for the story and much of it is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, gothic interpretations - certainly not the Disney version. Koontz requires you to engage in a similar suspension of disbelief, to accept that there could be something about Addison which creates extreme reactions and yet at the same time allows Gwyneth to see past this to his beautiful heart.

Undoubtedly, Koontz is a good writer and his skill here is not in question, what will divide the readers is whether the transition from the intimate to the large will be accepted; personally I’m of two minds. On the plus side you’re unlikely to work out the end of the book until you get there, on the minus side it may not be what you are expecting or want.


Charles Packer

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