ODD APOCALYPSE, Dean Koontz’s fifth Odd Thomas book, tells a fast and frightening tale, as the fry cook with supernatural abilities becomes involved in yet another dangerous adventure. This time around, Koontz blends steampunk machines, time travel and Shakespearean wisdom, creating a story with a different feel from the rest of the series.
"ODD APOCALYPSE, Dean Koontz’s fifth Odd Thomas book, tells a fast and frightening tale, as the fry cook with supernatural abilities becomes involved in yet another dangerous adventure. This time around, Koontz blends steampunk machines, time travel and Shakespearean wisdom, creating a story with a different feel from the rest of the series."
The book takes place just days after the previous installment, ODD HOURS, ends. After surviving another brush with death and while continuing to cope with both his ability to see what he calls the “lingering dead” and the death of the love of his life 18 months ago, Odd finds himself in the company of the enigmatic Annamaria as a guest at a luxurious California estate called Roseland. Of course, not everything is what it seems at Roseland. First, Odd is visited by the ghost of a beautiful woman on horseback, the bloody wounds that killed her still visible. She tries her best to communicate with Odd, but as fans of the series know, though he can see and even feel the dead, he cannot hear them. It is clear, however, that evil lurks at Roseland. Annamaria knows it too and believes she and Odd were drawn to the remote and heavily guarded estate for a very specific reason.
As the hours go by, Odd experiences more and more bizarre occurrences: the sun seems to set in the morning and rise again, buildings and objects have two shadows, a strange network of copper runs through everything on the miraculously clean estate, all the staff is heavily armed, and last (but not least) a young boy is being held captive. Add to all this roaming herds of murderous pig-creatures, the undecayed corpses of several young women in a basement and the inventions of Nikola Tesla, and you have a densely packed novel of strange ideas and brutal malfeasance. Odd is alone in saving the boy and fighting against both the residents of Roseland and the hoards of pig-creatures who seem to be hunting them all. Along the way, he will solve the mystery of Roseland itself and face the temptation to change the one event --- the death of his girlfriend --- that has haunted him more than the lingering ghosts.
From pop culture references to the Bard himself, Koontz pulls varied interests together to make Odd Thomas seem like a multi-dimensional character. The writing is so descriptive that at times it seems overly described. But Odd, as the narrator, explains this style away when he reminds readers that he is just a fry cook, not a writer, and that his mentor, writer Ozzie Boone, told him to keep the tone light “because the material is often so dark.” This allows Koontz to play with descriptive language and humor in the face of danger, and mostly it works well. Readers could join the series at this point as Koontz retells the pertinent details of Odd’s biography here, but as the first two books in the series are a bit more successful as stories than the last three, starting at the beginning is recommended.
Koontz obviously has big plans for Odd Thomas (and perhaps Annamaria, who had an important role in this book but sat out all of the action). Taking place in a mere day or so, ODD APOCALYPSE feels like a placeholder or bridge, getting Odd farther away from his life in Pico Mundo and closer to his destiny.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on August 2, 2012