Innocence by Dean Koontz
Upon closing this book, I sat in awe of the story to which I felt so deeply connected, wondering how an author could write characters with such heart, such drama, that I believed them to be quite real. Addison’s journey, after a life lived underground to hide the kind of face that prompts swift violence and quick death, meets a young woman named Gwyneth near a dark row of Charles Dickens novels. She must not see his face; he must not touch her in any way. So begins a relationship in which they, as Addison points out, hold each other hostage to their eccentricities.
With a winter storm bearing down on the city, Addison ventures forth from his underground living quarters to join Gwyneth on her mission to avenge her father’s death by stopping the library curator, her would-be rapist. Chapters alternate between Addison’s present and the past that brought him to this point, a unique and haunting language sweeping the reader through a tale that, while infused with echoes of Dean Koontz’s other work, does manage to stand on its own as something new and fresh and relevant. This feels like crucial reading to me. Philosophical considerations triggered analytical thinking and analysis as I pondered the world in which the very unique Addison and Gwyneth find themselves…especially by book’s end.
To pick apart character development, story structure, and the like would be missing the point of this tale. This is the first Dean Koontz novel to truly grip me in some time. The point of the story is the journey, and walking with Addison through his tortured life, one begins to see just how special it is that he meets Gwyneth at all, this girl in silver sneakers with the Goth-painted face who shines so brightly that Addison cannot look away.
To describe this story any further would be to reveal truths and surprises best kept for the reader’s own personal treasure hunt. I strongly encourage anyone open to expanding their mind to pick up this book and meet two people who will not soon leave you, even after the book is returned to the shelf.
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