This is book seven of the Odd series – the last in the series.
Odd Thomas has returned to Pico Mundo, where he started out seven books ago. And he's come home to die...
The Odd books, for me, have been a diminishing return for the most part. Book One was fantastic; Book Two was mediocre; Three was predictable and Four was just rubbish. I skipped Six entirely and don't feel like I missed a thing.
The only ones that stick out for me are One and Five...and now this one. But not for the reasons you might suspect.
There's little character development here, and most of the characters from Book Five have been dumped by the wayside. Odd is alone for most of the book.
The reason? Koontz has thrown it all overboard and goes hell for leather for his ending. If there's one thing Koontz can do well – better than most writers, actually – it's pace. The majority of the book takes place in the space of one night. And only three or four hours of that night at that.
It rockets away from the first few pages and simply does not stop until the end; it's almost minute-by-minute. I read the near four hundred pages in about six hours. And it's only that pacing which bumps this from two stars to three.
It does suffer though, as I said, from lack of character development. Anything not needed goes, and character arcs is one of them. Even Koontz's usual endless descriptions of the weather and lists (he does tend to list, itemise and categorise things) are toned down.
(A quick aside before I continue: There's a website called TV Tropes. A section is called "The Noodle Incident", in which a character (Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip, actually) describes a backstory event without going into detail. The effect is to let the reader imagine what happened more effectively than describing it).
This book is full of those Noodle Incidents: "Oh, that ballerina!" "I once struggled to listen to a conversation between an Eskimo and an Uzbekistani." It lifts the story from being too dark, but at times, it feels as if Koontz is trying too hard and it doesn't feel natural.
The ending of the book is spelled out right from the start – Odd has come home to die, to hopefully join his dead girlfriend in the afterlife. And when he does, Koontz tries to tug on our heartstrings and get us to emote and be happy that he's dead.
But it doesn't work. The final chapter, one some people have been waiting on for seven books, has no impact whatsoever. It's no more than a paragraph or two, and then we're moving on. It needed room, and Koontz doesn't give it any. It's flat and it's empty without much to recommend it.
Much like most of the series is, actually.