I wouldn’t read another book in this series, not even is someone gave it to me as a gift.
After rating Koontz’ last book, “Odd Apocalypse,” I swore I’d never read an Odd Thomas book, unless I knew that the author started answering some of the many, many questions that have been raised. Well, I guess I didn’t consider whether I really meant that, especially if I got one of the books as a gift, which is the only reason that I read “Deeply Odd.”
Again, the author doesn’t answer any of the burning questions of this series. Again, he introduces new characters, and in doing so, raises more questions. These no point in discussing what, or who, they are, just as there is no point wondering what the answers are, because there are none.
Similar to the two-book series, “Seize the Night” and “Fear Nothing,” (hero Christopher Snow) Koontz continues to fuel an entire series on mysteries that never get answered. And on that note, he clearly connects the stories of Snow with those of Odd Thomas, mixing some of the same characters and places (in this book and in “Odd Interlude”), but just leaving the reader to wonder whether the central stories and characters of the two series will intersect. (I wonder whether Koontz got the idea for the Odd Thomas series from the Snow series; he’s just winking at the reader, saying, ‘Yep, your suspicions are correct.)
In addition to mounds of unanswered questions, there are stereotypical bad guys doing familiar bad things. In this book, a super bad truck driver has kidnapped a bunch of kids who he (and other Satan worshipers (seriously) are planning to kill in gruesome ways with rich people milling around. This “plot” is somewhat similar to the last book: a bunch of sadistic rich people killing young girls for pleasure. (So the formula: a bunch of evil ____-ers, kidnap a bunch of ______, and torment/mutilate them in a secluded ______, only to have Odd Thomas ruin it all with his supernatural luck.) There is no depth to these bad guys; they’re just super bad, with no human qualities, so you feel no remorse, or pause, when they meet a brutal end. Boring!
And there’s a monologue that’s getting very, very tired. If I have to read Thomas saying, ‘I’m just a fry cook,’ again, I’m going to puke. So, by ditching this series, I can forego nausea the homeopathic way. Then there’s all the musings and ramblings of Thomas, including comments on whether graffiti is a real “art,” or other random topics. The reader is left with the distinctive impression that Odd Thomas has just become a platform for Koontz to print filler from his daily journal.
Koontz once wrote a great book on writing, “How to Write Bestselling Fiction.” Central points of the book included (but were not limited to):
– Don’t write for money; write to entertain: FAIL. The Odd Thomas series and denigrated into a series that is clearly motivated more by making sales by following a formula, which is no longer entertaining.
– The purpose of writing is to be read: FAIL. If he’s going to continue down this path, fewer will be reading the Odd Thomas books.
The also says that readers demand the following:
1. Strong plot – FAIL. The plot of Odd Thomas follows the same pattern. They may be pieced together well, but you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next.
2. A great deal of action – INCOMPLETE. Yes, there are a lot of guns, fights, and crazy things happening, but then, I’ve seen it all before.
3. A hero – the critical element. FAIL. It wasn’t a fail in the beginning of the series, but now, with all of the musings, it’s like there’s no Odd Thomas anymore. It’s just Dean Koontz talking.
4. Colorful, imaginative, and convincing charactizations. FAIL. The bad guys are all bad, and the good guys are just an endless maze of mysteries, i.e. none of them are convincing.
5. Clear, believable, character motivations. FAIL. Now Koontz has Odd Thomas risking his life, willing to die for the Annamarie, or whatever her name is, and for no understandable reason. And since many of the new characters in the last few books are mysteries, we don’t understand their motivations, so they’re not clear or believable.
6. Well-drawn backgrounds. FAIL. A truck stop, small down, and lake cabin, where rich Satanists hang out, seems pretty lazy to me. Koontz has a habit of cornering each book into a small place (Odd Apocalypse – a rich man’s estate; Odd Interlude – a small community of houses; Deeply Odd – cars and a lake cabin, and so on.) It’s pretty easy to write a background where you limit it to a small space that could fit in just about any time or place.
7. A writer familiar with English language. PASS. Yes, he can write clearly and crisply, but after reading a few pages of Donna Tart’s “A Secret History,” one remembers that good writing, by itself, can be a pleasure.
8. Lyrical language – STYLE. FAIL. I feel like the writing is reminiscent of a relay race. He hits all of the hurtles on cue, but there’s no suspense when you’re the only one in the race.
If I get another one of these books as a gift, I’ll promptly return it, or exchange it.
All that said, I’m holding Koontz to a pretty high standard here, yes. But then, they are HIS standards. He can do better.
He’s done much better in his prior books. I’m a Koontz fan but this series is running out of steam.