Koontz, D. (2013). Innocence. New York: Bantam Books.
Hardcover $28.00, Paperback $18.00, Kindle $6.50, Audible $22.95 or free, 352 pages or 11 hours on Audible
Author’s Website and Interviews:
Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com:8080/978-0-553-80803-2
Annotation: Addison hid his monstrous face from the world because to reveal himself meant certain death.
Summary: Addison Goodheart is born with a monstrous affliction that forces him to live his life in isolation. When people look upon his face they become enraged and want to kill him. When he is 8 years old, his drug addicted mother banishes him from their cabin secluded in the woods. Alone and scared, Addison comes across a man who suffers from the same affliction that he has. The man raises Addison and teaches him how to live underground and how to survive in the outside world. When his “father” is murdered one night by two cops who can’t stand the sight of him, Addison retreats underground, only coming out at night in search of food and clothing. One night when he is exploring the library after hours, he stumbles upon a young girl who is being chased by a man. Curious and intent on helping her, he follows her and discovers her name is Gwyneth. She is a young woman who claims to suffer from crippling “social phobia” and cannot stand to have anyone touch her. She too lives a life of isolation in the many apartments her wealthy father entrusted to her before his murder. She is being pursued by the libraries Rare Books curator Ryan Telford, whose connection to her father proves deadly. He is a depraved sexual predator intent on exacting revenge of on Gwyenth and it is through her escape from Telford that she stumbles across Addison, a man who will change the course of both their lives in mysterious and mystical ways. As they attempt to break free from their lives of isolation, shocking truths are revealed, bringing the world they once knew crashing down around them.
Evaluation: I have mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the book up until chapter 73 in which I felt the book took a rather weird turn. I almost felt as if I were reading a different story. Although I felt that Koontz provided the reader with some form of closure in terms of Addison and Gwen, it was just not an ending I saw coming and it threw me for a loop! The writing is descriptive, lyrical, and reads like poetry. I thought Koontz did a great job of developing the characters especially Addison, Gwen, and Telford. I thought Addison’s flashbacks really helped provide much needed background information for his story but at times I thought it was overdone and moved at a slow pace. Overall, I thought the plot was layered and complex and it is written in such a way that you can’t help but fall in love with Addison and Gwen.
I listened to the audio version of this book which was 11 hours long. The book was narrated by McCloud Andrews and I thought he did a wonderful job of narrating the story and really brought the characters to life. His tone and his inflections captured the essence of Addison and really made me feel as if I were watching a movie unfold before me. I thought the book translated really well to audio because it is so descriptive which helped to create a visual in the reader’s mind. The pacing was great and I was able to follow along without feeling like I was missing vital parts of the story.
Genre: Suspense (mystical fantasy)
Appeal Factors: Character-drive, fast-paced, atmospheric, creepy, and compelling
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
- A Sight for Sore Eyes, by Ruth Rendell
- The Ritual, by Adam Nevill
- Pig Island, by Mo Hayder
Awards: No awards listed at this time.
- Ask questions to the reader and/or the audience to evoke empathy for Addison or Gwen. Use questions to put them in the character’s shoes. For example, you could ask the question “How would you feel to live isolated from the world around you at such a young age? How would you feel if your mother banished you from your house as a child?
Book Discussion Questions:
- Why does Gwen model her goth look after the Paladine’s marionette? What does this reveal about her character?
- Why are people unable to stand the sight of Addison? What about him makes people enraged enough to want his “kind” dead?
- Do you blame Addison’s mother for banishing him from their cabin when he was 8 years old? Why does she do it? Is her suicide brought about by her guilt/failure as a mother?
- How are Gwen and Addison’s fate intertwined? Were they destined to find each other? How are they similar? How are they different?
- What are the “Fogs” and the “Clears”? What do these represent about humanity? Do you believe Telford was infected by a “Fog” or is he just a depraved man?
I was looking at free audiobooks on YouTube and stumbled across this book. I had heard of Koontz before but had never read any of his works so I decided to give this book a try. Before I began reading, I read reviews on Goodreads which gave it mixed reviews. People either loved it or hated it. I was curious to see which category I would fall into. I was intrigued that the book was considered suspense and mystical fantasy and wanted to see how Koontz fused the two.