Review: “Deeply Odd,” Dean Koontz

Pros: Gripping, moving, and tense
Cons: Annamaria is still pointless
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Odd Thomas sees dead people–and now he’s had a waking premonition. When he touches a psychotic trucker he sees several children, and he sees them burned to death on a stage. Now he knows a horrible crime will be committed but he doesn’t know where, when, or how. He’s going to have to use his psychic magnetism to its limits in order to save the children. He has one surprising new resource, however: Edie Fischer. The older woman stops to help Odd and insists Odd is going to become her chauffeur. Before Odd realizes what’s happening, Edie has swept him up into a resistance movement, one that’s fighting back against the corrupt powers of the world. She has access to resources he can hardly imagine, starting with money and including arms dealers with very high morals. She’s also bound and determined to help him stop the evil trucker and save the children.

 

I am blind. Despite the fact that Odd sometimes contrasts his actions, luck, and resources with those of various action heroes such as Jason Bourne, it never occurred to me that he was an action hero. Dean Koontz does such a marvelous job treating his protagonist as an offbeat everyman stumbling through life that I didn’t make the connection until he was actually standing with two guns in his hands and a police utility belt around his waist.

Deeply Odd is the seventh book in the Odd Thomas series. Book one (Odd Thomas) blew me away with its marvelous whimsical, offbeat narrative. Book two (Forever Odd) was quite good, taking a look at an entirely different view of evil. Book three (Brother Odd) started out very slow and dull but picked up in the latter half; the tone and humor felt ‘off’, but the plot finally sucked me in. Book four (Odd Hours) wasn’t worth reading. It wasn’t just slow–it was uninteresting. It contained a handful of glaring continuity errors as well as an annoying new character. Book five (Odd Interlude) skipped into new territory (science fiction elements) and, despite not being as quotable as the first two books, contained an intriguing plot. Book six (Odd Apocalypse) explored a grotesque blend of apocalyptic, horrific and almost steampunk elements with a plot that kinda-sorta touched on time travel. Now, Deeply Odd tosses Odd straight into his destiny, leading him back around to his opponents from the first book and backing him up with all-new resources and aid.

“You called him a flamboyant rhinestone cowboy, but I saw him, and there’s no honest honkey-tonk in that man. He’s flam with none of the buoyant.”

It took a little longer to pull me in than the first book did, but once it did I was hooked. It’s also highly quotable, unlike some of the middle books; Odd Thomas’s narrative voice has built back up some of its whimsical, offbeat steam. I even had a not-quite-teary moment, which is a great sign that I’m connecting emotionally with a book.

This tale seems like it’s supposed to belong to Annamaria–the bell she gave Thomas finally rang, and it’s been a full three books since she joined the cast. However, yet again she has almost no part in things other than as a plot device. She’s still annoyingly enigmatic. She is the embodiment of the series’ oddities taken too far, wrapping back around into cliche and fortune-cookie philosophy.

Edie is such a fully-realized character and has so much clear previous history that I found myself wondering if she was a preexisting character. Koontz is nearly back to full power with respect to the uniqueness and depth of his secondary characters, although the first book still has an edge there.

Deeply Odd is not quite as good as the first book, but that’s a difficult bar to reach. It’s certainly better than most of the books that have come between, rendering it a worthy entry into the series. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what Odd Thomas can do with his new resources!

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