Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Title: Saint Odd
Author: Dean Koontz
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Target Age Group: Adult
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Book Description (from Amazon)

Odd Thomas is back where it all started . . . because the time has come to finish it. Since he left his simple life in the small town of Pico Mundo, California, his journey has taken him to places strange and wonderful, mysterious and terrifying. Across the land, in the company of mortals and spirits alike, he has known kindness and cruelty, felt love and loss, saved lives and taken them—as he’s borne witness to humanity’s greatest good and darkest evil. Again and again, he has gone where he must and done what he had to do—for better or worse—with his courage and devotion sorely tested, and his soul forever changed. Every triumph has been hard won. Each sacrifice has taken its toll.

Now, whatever destiny drives him has finally steered his steps home, where those he cares for most surround him, the memory of his tragically lost true love haunts him, and one last challenge—vast and dreadful—awaits him. For Odd Thomas, born to serve a purpose far greater than himself, the wandering is done. Only the reckoning remains.

My Review

This book was very bittersweet for me, because I've grown to love Odd Thomas as a character. At the beginning of the series, he was as pure a character as you could find. Resisting violence, but wanting to do good by the dead that came into his life seeking his help. He kept his life simple - he worked as a fry cook in a small diner - and his relationship with his girlfriend was enviable. Unfortunately, throughout the series, all that changed. He lost the love of his life, gunned down by a crazed cult bent on bringing about the end of the world, and had increasingly been placed into situations where he had to dispense violence to combat violence. By the time I had reached this book, I really felt sorry for him and felt he had lost much of the innocence that was appealing in book one, and I hoped he could find peace.

Which brings me to this book. This story could easily be any other story in the saga of Odd Thomas's life. It's set up pretty much the same way as book one, as a matter of fact, especially because it takes place in the same setting as book one and dealing with the same group of villains. Seeing all of Odd's old friends from book one was the author's and the reader's chance to say goodbye to everyone I suppose.

What caused me not to rate this book a 5 out of 5 (which I was prepared to do) was, even though all the elements were here of a typical Odd Thomas book (his unique, somewhat still innocent view of the world; the strangeness; the uniqueness of characters; the humor, although admittedly less of it in this book), by the end I was dissatisfied with many questions that were presented throughout the series that were never answered. 

One such thread, and noticeably missing from this book, involves the bodachs, those creepy, shadowy creatures which seem to appear and feast on catastrophic future events to come. In book one, Odd had a theory of who, or what, these beings might be, but by the end of the last book, the reader still doesn't really know. Were they really time travelers coming back in a strange form to revel in chaos and death? (This was what Odd's theory was, anyway). Or were they something else entirely? It would've been easy for Mr. Koontz to offer up this explanation. After all, there is definitely a strong element of time travel in some of the other books. But he never does. 

You also never really learn who Annamaria really is, you never really learn who Edie is, and the big reveal about Stormy (which I'll omit for those who haven't read yet) is underwhelming because, well, there just aren't enough details to explain why it's important. Among other unanswered mysteries.

All in all, though, it's an Odd Thomas book, and I can't give it a low rating because it's written in a similar flying by the seat of your pants way as all the other Odd Thomas books and has some of my favorite fictional character in it. Plus, I loved the ending. It could only end one way, and in that sense, I was satisfied. I wish there were more to come, but I suppose it was time for Mr. Koontz to give Odd a rest. I would highly recommend it to Odd Thomas fans, and to those who haven't read any of them yet, what are you waiting for? Go back to book one and dig in!