Review: “Odd Apocalypse,” Dean Koontz

Pros: Quotable; good plotting
Cons: Some repetitive explanations
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Odd Apocalypse (book six in The Odd Thomas Series 6-Book Bundle) is a bit different from Dean Koontz’s previous Odd Thomas books. Books one and two (Odd Thomas and Forever Odd) have an absurd, offbeat narrative style, wonderfully tense plotting and pacing, and immensely quotable language–although the first is a bit better than the second. Brother Odd started off slow and dull and the humor felt ‘off’ from the previous books, but the plot definitely went to interesting places. Odd Hours wasn’t particularly worthwhile–slow, uninteresting, and occasionally annoying. Odd Interlude picked up somewhat and introduced an interesting science fiction aspect. In the case of Odd Apocalypse, the new genre component is divided between a steampunk-style mechanism (courtesy of Tesla), futuristic/apocalyptic set dressing, and a touch of not-quite time travel.

 

Roseland is a huge estate housing a reclusive billionaire and several of his servants. Thanks to Odd Thomas’s companion, Annamaria, Odd ends up invited to the mysterious mansion and its grounds. Before long he starts to realize that something’s very wrong. The house’s corridors seem to change from time to time. The grounds never change–not even a tiny bit. A strange boy is being held captive, the servants don’t seem to be doing any serving, and the guests are warned never to go out after dark. Odd, of course, knows that’s exactly when he’ll best be able to figure out what’s going on.

 

Odd Apocalypse isn’t as enthralling as the first book in the series, but it’s quite good. It’s back to being quotable and has yet another new view of what ‘evil’ means. The plot is terrifically fascinating, contains plenty of tension and good pacing, and once again is quite different from the plots in the previous books (something Koontz seems particularly good at is tossing his characters into new and different circumstances with each installment).

The setting and atmosphere feel more than a touch grotesque this time around. The ‘alternate reality’ of sorts that Odd discovers is replete with dangers, including pig-like primates with a taste for violence. Once again there’s some fairly dark material in here. Odd’s ability to see ghosts comes into play, but the cast of characters is too small to merit any bodachs.

Enigmatic Annamaria feels even more like a bald plot device this time around. Her charm nets Odd entry into the manor grounds, but that and her usual fortune-cookie banter make up the bulk of her presence. While having her in the plot makes certain things easier on Koontz, he just isn’t doing enough with her, particularly given the cliched manner of her appearance.

Koontz is very repetitive with his explanation of why Odd quotes Shakespeare again and again. It would be nice if he could back off on that a bit. There’s also a spot where Odd seems to indicate that he doesn’t believe in aliens–a curious position to take after Odd Interlude, in which he more-or-less encountered aliens.

All in all, Odd Apocalypse is a worthy entry into the Odd Thomas collection.

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