I never quite know what I’m in for when I start a new novel by Dean Koontz. He’s written some books that I love to death and a few others that put me to sleep. He was also one of the first authors I read as a young teen so I always grab his new books hoping for the best but bracing for the worst. This time it worked out and it didn’t turn out to be another “Your Heart Belongs To Me” or “Velocity” with jerky protagonists who annoyed me from beginning to end.
I read this on audio and took all kinds of notes but I’m feeling lazy so I’m going to ramble out onto this white page whatever comes to mind and I’ll do my best not to spoil anything.
Basically this is a book about a young guy named Addison. Addison was born with some sort of affliction that makes people fly into a murderous rage when they see his face. Seriously. They want him dead. Thusly, he cannot allow himself to be seen and must hide in the shadows and live underground. Don’t bother asking me to reveal what that affliction is because I won’t do it. I spent most of the book wondering what the heck was so wrong with him and you’ll have to do the same. Be careful about reading spoilerific reviews because I feel it will ruin the book for you. All is revealed in the end and I thought it was quite beautiful. But that’s me. You might be annoyed.
After Addison’s heartbreaking childhood is revealed in flashback you’ll want to give him a big hug. Despite it all, he’s grown up sweet natured and, yes, rather innocent as the title says. He finally makes a friend named Gwyneth who is able to look past his aversion to being looked at and she honors his wishes. Gwyneth has some major quirks of her own. She’s lived her life in seclusion due to “social anxiety”, she can’t abide being touched and has been protected and doted on by her wealthy father. But he’s been murdered and Gwyneth is hell bent on exposing his evil murderer, thus forcing her out into the world to fight evil with the help of Addison. The two make a great pair and become insta-friends. I believed it. There is much more going on here (but not too much for my tired brain) and I loved all of it. There are packs of dogs (yay!), there’s a plague brewing (yay!!), and there are sinister marionette’s (evil dolls! Yay!!! You can't ever go wrong with evil dolls). These are a few of my favorite things and they’re all wrapped into one book, how could I not love it? Well, that’s easy. The story could’ve tanked due to Koontz’s penchant for excessive wordiness and lame characters with unrealistic dialogue. But there was none of that here. Or if there was it didn’t bother me. I haven’t liked a Koontz book as much as this one since I read Odd Thomas.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. The murderer is a Koontz classic, a one-note evil guy, cursing worse than me when I run out of chocolate and spreading his evil wherever he goes because he feels like it. The story is almost perfect though and that’s more than good enough for me. I found only one of the plot elements a little unclear (pun alert, if you’ve read it) but Koontz may be setting this up as another series. Anyway, it read that way to me which was slightly annoying because I never follow through on reading series. But that’s my problem.
I read this as an unabridged audiobook and the narrator took a little getting used to. He reads at a very leisurely pace as if he and I have all the time in the world, but he does vulnerability oh-so-well and the story was so compelling that I quickly fell into it, rather than falling asleep.
Innocence was lovely and sweet and has an interesting, twisty plot that kept me guessing and reading until the very end. If you read it, I hope you love it as much as I did.