Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: Innocence, by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite living authors. He got his start by writing thrillers, and I suppose he still does in some sense. He's a Catholic author and Catholicism is inextricably woven into his narratives. You can see some common tropes running through all of his work: a character, sometimes the protagonist, who has some weird disorder that isolates them from mainstream society; a precocious dog that saves the day on one or several occasions; a nearby Catholic parish with a wise pastor who either provides invaluable counsel or is a focus point of a subplot; villains who are irredeemably evil in their brokenness; and true love overcoming the odds. Innocence contains all of these things.

The main character, Addison Goodheart, has some weird disorder or physical deformity that causes other people to want to murder him on sight. He lives in underground utility tunnels beneath an unnamed city. He keeps himself underneath thick layers of clothing, gloves, a ski mask, and a hoodie in an attempt to prevent people from laying eyes on him. One night in the library he meets a girl with social phobia who won't allow anyone to touch her, ever. Can a man who cannot be seen and a girl who cannot be touched become friends, or even fall in love? You can probably guess. Their chance encounter leads to a series of events that changes the entire world.

Without revealing the surprise, we eventually learn what makes Addison so different and why people want to murder him on sight, particularly if they make eye contact with him. The Catholic priest can look upon his face but it causes him extreme mental anguish. Koontz's recent works have taken on a more apocalyptic tone. My big criticism of Innocence is the plot is so similar to another one of his books, The Taking. If you've read one, you can figure out the twist in the other before you reach the end.

Still, I recommend this book. I plowed through it in two days, like I do many of his other works. Koontz is one of the authors who inspired me to start writing myself. According to an old interview that's still up on his website, I think, he said that he edits as he goes along. It obviously works well for him; it takes him longer to finish a manuscript but when it's done, it's done by God, and ready for print. For me, that'd be a recipe for madness. I'd never get anything done.

Innocence gets 4 out of 5 stars.

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