by Dean Koontz
Normally I reserve my reviews for indie or small press authors, simply because there aren't enough readers reviewing those "unknown" authors. BUT, from time to time a book comes along by a well-known author that deserves its own review by a loyal reader.
Odd Thomas is a young man with abilities. He can see the dead and he has a "psychic magnetism" that often leads him toward danger, and occasionally away from it. Saint Odd is the last of Odd's story. At sixteen he was promised forever with the love of his life, Stormy, by a Gypsy Mummy fortune telling machine at Sombra Brothers Carnival. After Stormy's death in a mall massacre in book 1, Odd has finally come to the end of his own story. His reward awaits, but only if he can earn it. To be deserving of this destiny he travels back home to Pico Mundo, where the Satanic cult he foiled in his earlier exploits is back again to do terrible harm to the people Odd loves most. Odd must save everyone and stop the cult (as best he can).
There are many things to love about this story. Firstly, the narrator is a humble and well-spoken young man with a clear view of the world and the people who live in it. Through Odd's eyes you can see the good, the bad, and the very very ugly of the world. Odd's narration is the reason so many readers fell in love with him in book 1 and followed him through to the end. Secondly, Odd has friends who are extraordinary and ordinary, and every one is worthy of his friendship and love. Koontz has drawn them so exquisitely that readers feel they, too, know the citizens of Pico Mundo and the friends Odd made on his travels.
There are, surprisingly, things to dislike about this book as well. Odd is almost too well spoken to be believable. Where I understand him to be a different sort of 23 year old, I find that his use of large words and his uncommon knowledge of many inane subjects almost lost me in his narration at times. I felt like a very much older and wiser Odd was writing the story, as opposed to his 23 year old self. Odd's friend, Annamaria, as well, left me feeling a bit...off. She is also extraordinary, but far too secretive for my tastes. Telling the reader that she is capable of many wonderous things, but never explaining how or why, leaves them with a bad taste. Perhaps I'm just too obtuse to get Koontz's buried meaning of Annamaria's true nature, or maybe I'm not supposed to know. But DAMN IT, I wanted to be told, or shown, or have it explained to me in no uncertain terms, who and what she actually is. "Human but not" is not an acceptable explanation!
And then there was the ending of Saint Odd. Touching, but lacking. I wanted to experience the euphoria with Odd. And though I knew he was happy, I also knew I was not. It was over and Odd was gone. Too bad. He was the most interesting character I've read in years. Maybe I'll see him in boot camp.
Good job, Dean. Good job. Next time, if the main character could live long enough to explain all the junk that I still want to know, that'd be great. Thanks.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS, just because I love Odd Thomas; no matter how he went out, he came in like a hero.