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4.1 out of 5 stars252
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2015
I've enjoyed Dean Koontz novels before so when I saw this had great reviews I thought it was a safe bet. I was so disappointed. It was, to be kind, very boring. I kept reading it as I was mildly interested to learn what it was about the central protagonist that provoked such a visceral response in the people he met, but it wasn't worth it. I keep finding that four and five star reviews on Amazon are totally meaningless these days (or perhaps that's just for e-books?), but I trusted the glowing reviews posted from mainstream press. However on looking back at those comments now, I see they are actually listed as "praise for Dean Koontz" so they're probably from earlier book reviews. Pretty shoddy, Amazon.
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What a change of direction for Dean Koontz. I'm really rather surprised with his romantic central plot and enquiries into human nature.

This is the story of Addison Goodheart a man who has suffered horrible abuse, more or less since birth, because of his "differences". Addison has had to battle against what's considered normal society merely in order to survive and it would appear one glimpse of his face is more than enough to produce a murderous rage when viewed by other people. As an outcast from normality Addison has had to find himself a safe place of refuge but; it's a place of isolation and shadows, almost a mirror image of his own inner feelings, and you can't remain hidden forever.

Much of the novel is focused upon Addison's journey into self imposed exile and then his eventual attempt to return to what he fears the most - normality.

I found the inclusion of the female love interest, Gwyneth, a girl every bit as detested and cast out as Addison, cleverly worked. Not only does their relationship add emotional warmth but there are many contrasts between the two of them which adds texture and allows the reader to see the situation from both a male and female perspective. Placing the two key characters, and much of the plot, inside a library works well and the themes of old buildings and books allow for a Gothic atmosphere to develop as Addison begins to prowl out of his lair and secretly approaches Gywneth.

Innocence isn't a complex story, in fact it's quite simple, and asks one central question of it's characters; angel or devil? To be honest the story is much more about exploring the evil within human nature than it is about external demonic forces or the supernatural however; the principle characters remain nicely shaded, there's plenty of intrigue surrounding them, and Koontz makes a decent job of slowly revealing their real truths and motivations.

Any negatives? Yes, I'm less than 100% convinced the plot really works and it certainly reads as quite odd and random at times. Innocence is certainly the best book I've read by Koontz for a while but some of his themes are just too clichéd and you really do need to suspend too much self belief if you want to stay with it.

If, like me, you read a lot of horror and supernatural fiction you're perhaps not going to be too surprised by anything in Innocence and I doubt you'll find the novel in any way scary though it's certainly more than surreal. I'm leaving 3* because Innocence isn't really a book for me but I enjoyed the relationship between the central characters, thought the concept of using a library and literature for the background to the plot an excellent idea and found Addison Goodheart quite intriguing.
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on 4 January 2015
A disappointment. Starts out promisingly enough, but the characters are clichés, and the book can't even decide what it wants to be -- horror, a romance, a religious parable, or what. The flowery prose eventually becomes a parody of itself. When the big reveal comes -- the explanation for what makes all ordinary people recoil in horror at the main character if he ever reveals his face, and what made his own mother abandon him at age 8 -- is just jaw-droppingly awful. It goes downhill from there.

I bought this book on the strength of an earlier, much better Koonz novel, and the four-star average review on this site. I really don't understand what all those other reviewers saw in this. Well, maybe I'll try some of Koonz's better novels, as mentioned in the other one-star reviews.
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on 1 February 2014
Having previously read only one Koontz novel well over ten years ago - and not being overly impressed with it - when I picked up this book, I was taken in more by the eloquently fluid turns of phrase and less by the reputation of the author. Who, if I am to be honest, I sort of regarded as a hack, just another popular author churning out meaningless fluff for the masses.

Foot, meet my mouth.

This is a difficult book to describe in terms of genre, though there are distinct tinges of horror, a genre I usually stray from because it tends to tap into the mundanities of life and glorify that, despite the extraordinary events that take place in their pages. Aside from the breathtakingly beautiful writing, I noticed early on that this somehow transcends those aforementioned mundanities, so while the places and time may be familiar, reading 'Innocence' was almost like being transported into another world. The same can be said of Addison Goodheart, the main character/narrator, who is depicted as an outcast for reasons that will not be made clear until the ending, as his insight and luminous mind seem to separate him from ordinary humanity surely as does his "deformity".

Koontz weaves a captivating tale of Addison and the seemingly troubled Goth girl, Gwyneth, whose lives are somehow connected, and who he must help and protect at all costs from the man responsible for her father's murder. While the plot was light in certain instances, much of the book revolves around how Addison's past is leading him to their present life together, and the crumbs of supernatural the author throws for us are shiver inducing and spellbinding. Along the way, the book is spiced with some very erudite observances regarding the modern world, and the connections to darkness in which they spring from.

I have literally been left astounded by this book. From not being much impressed (and possibly turned off) by the book I read so many years ago, this is now an author whose works will be sought out ravenously.
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on 17 December 2013
"Innocence" by Dean Koontz is an exciting mix of supernatural, thriller and romance novel, in many ways different from what one could expect from this writer's in terms of his earlier works.
The life of novel's main character Addison has not stared rosy, starting from his birth when the midwife tried to suffocate him and continued many years later when his mother unable to raise him anymore told him to leave their home with a small bundle that only contains some food.
In order to survive he had to hide from men due to his face that made people want to kill him whenever they see it.

After he almost died because having the misfortune to find himself in the company of the wrong people at the wrong time, by twist of fate this scared and lonely creature found his refuge in this unnamed city underground.
There he will come across a girl named Gwyneth who is equally as marked as he is due to her past and the fear of being touched.
Together the two of them will affect the fate of many people they'll meet, offering a salvation and help while the world around them is changing irreversibly...

Koontz's novel is an unusual mix of different literary genres that with its thrilling pace and reader's desire to find out the reason for hatred and contempt felt by all for the main character, motivates reader to turn a new page to the unraveling end when full truth will be revealed.
In this sense, the end of the novel could be a either favorite part or disappointment to some readers which will hope for a different outcome, but it's a matter of personal preference.

The novel plot can remind some readers to the one from "The Phantom of the Opera", but main character of the novel is a different type of man, he doesn't like violence, moreover he despises it.
Koontz wrote his latest book in poetic way, using many words that are not so common in modern literary works and in some parts of his novel fans of the author's opus from the time when he wrote horror tales will recognize his distinctive style.

Overall, I recommend this work to all Koontz fans, but also to all those who want to read something different from the ordinary mystery titles since his last novel is something that besides not being ordinary is work well-worth reading.
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on 31 December 2014
Interesting plot and different from anything else that I've read by Koontz or others. However, I found myself speed-reading large sections of the book as the narrative became very wordy in ways that didn't serve the plot. Around page 179, Koontz writes a whole paragraph describing how the snow was falling; now, I appreciate that good writers would give us more than "it was snowing", but the paragraph highlighted how wordy the book gets in places. I felt as if he was being paid by the word!
By the end, I felt as if I had eaten a very big (though decent enough) meal: "phew, I'm glad to have made it to the end and now I'm stuffed!"
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on 18 January 2014
i have been reading dean koontz since i was a teenager so was very excited about this new book, and i wasnt disapointed.
i would recomend you read the prequell to this story first as this sets the scene nicely.
this book was different from deans usuall storys, halfway through the book i was still unaware how addison the main charachter was "different" it keeps you guessing till the end and the ending was very thought provoking indeed.
if you love dean koontz you wont be disspointed.
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on 16 March 2015
Mr Koontz is becoming more and more spiritual in his writing and this is just another one of those "feel-good" books, which, quite frankly, I can do without. I'm really sorry, Mr Koontz, I've been a fan of yours for many years, but I won't be buying anymore of your books.
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on 27 October 2014
I'm a huge fan of Dean Koontz and have read everything he has written so I eagerly await each new offering from him. Therefore the mixed reviews I read of this novel did not put me off reading it for myself and I'm sure that will be the case with other Koontz fans as well. However, I have to say the ending was disappointing, especially as I was racking my brains through the whole book trying to think of what was so grotesque about the main character to inspire such murderous hatred from the mere sight of him. When this was finally revealed it was quite an anti climax. Anyway, I enjoyed the story, even though I found some of the plot holes a bit frustrating.
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on 29 March 2014
I do like the way Dean Koontz offers us so many ideas, and this book is no exception. It is certainly an enigma and keeps us guessing as to what exactly is going on, and although I had my suspicions it was still extremely well done, if somewhat sad in so many ways.

I loved the characters - especially Addison and Gwyneth - so interesting and intriguing!

The plot is unusual, if any really, but it was the characters that brought it alive for me - set as they were amongst the mystical and heart-rending scenario.

I don't give spoilers but highly recommended for something different and thought-provoking.
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