Innocence: A Novel by Dean Koontz
I specifically bought this book based on an interview with the author and Raymond Arroro of EWTN. When I added it to my Goodread’s reading list I noticed that the ratings of this book were very mixed. As one of my friends noted, that people either loved or hated it.
I had expected an ending something like the in the third of the Divergence’s series that drew the same divide. What I found was totally different and while I have some understanding of the negative reactions, I am in the “loved it camp.”
First off there are disturbing elements in the story relating to the evil of sexual abuse. There is no voyeuristic lingering regarding this, but it is a backdrop that contrasts the innocence that is such a major theme of the novel with real evil. Even this slight intrusion put off one of my Facebook friends, who is a fan of Koontz, but could not finish this book.
So many things about this book were surprising to me. There was an “Odd Thomas” element wrapped into a totally different, but at the same time similar, character. While theological themes can often be found in his books to some extent, they are very present here. So much so that it is bound to turn some people off. The ultimate explanation regarding the major characters has very interesting theological themes. At times I was reminded of C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy where there is a slight theological intersection in the exploration of an idea.
Perhaps another off-putting aspect is the use of what I would call Dicksonian coincidences. There are a lot of coincidences in this story, really a ten on a Dickens scale of coincidences. Dicken’s could get away with his numerous coincidences because of his storytelling capability and I think the same forgiveness can be applied here. Specifically in that the coincidences magnified the story instead of reducing it to mere plot.
I was very intrigued by the characters and was totally surprised with the major reveal towards the end of the book. A reveal that was more than just surprise in a “Six Sense” sort of way, but one that had much to reflect upon and to further think about. The center of the mystery is the main character of Addison who lives alone and hidden from people. His seclusion is mostly because of people’s reaction to seeing him being akin to wanting to stomp him like a cockroach. His life has been filled with severe difficulties, yet there is no stain of bitterness towards others and his view of life is joyous without being Pollyannish. Thinking about the title of this book, Addison also reminds me of Innocent Smith in G.K. Chesterton’s novel Manalive. The intriguing characters don’t stop at Addison and Gwyneth adds to the mystery of the book.
On the whole I really enjoyed this novel, but your mileage may vary.