Amazement is an emotional response, astonishment an intellectual one.
This is the last book in the The Odd Thomas Series by Dean Koontz. I read them all and loved them all. I did not want to read this last instalment because I had a feeling. I knew that something was going to happen to Odd and it will mean his end. But.. as all things must come to an end, so did Odd’s journey to meet his beloved. Saint Odd won the Goodreads Choice Award for Horror in 2015.
I came home to die and to live in death. My life had begun in the desert town of Pico Mundo, California, and I had remained there until I was twenty, when I lost what mattered most to me. During the twenty-one months since then, I had traveled in search of my purpose, and I had learned by going where I had to go. That I had come full circle shouldn’t have surprised me, for we are born into time only to be born out of it, after living through the cycles of the seasons, under stars that turn because the world turns, born into ignorance and acquiring knowledge that ultimately reveals to us our enduring ignorance: The circle is the essential pattern of our existence.
Tears, go back inside!
The story, as always, is wonderfully paced and littered with amazing descriptions. We meet all the old friends – the chief, the large friend, the undying nanny with mad driving skills and we meet good people offering shelter. There are guns, explosions, nasty cultists and a plot to infect the whole world with a nasty strain of Rabies and make what Brad Pitt saw in World War Z a reality.
And there is Odd to the rescue, the chef with a heart of gold and a skill that we know much about. His ability to see the dead.
My life had been shaped by those lingering dead, by their regrets, their hopes, their needs, their melancholy. In my twenty-two years of life, I had come to regard even angry spirits with equanimity, reserving my dread for certain still-living human beings and the horrors of which they were capable.
Written from Odd’s point of view again, we hear how his story ended in the previous book (Odd Thomas series * Odd Apocalypse) and what became of Anamaria, his perpetually pregnant female friend with mystical outlooks on life. We know that’s something is about to hit the town of Pico Mundo again and at the beginning of the book, not even Odd knows what it might be.
If I have machinelike steady-state nerves, I unfortunately also have the imagination of an acutely sensitive, hyperactive four-year-old on a sugar high, a four-year-old with an understanding of death equal to that of a war veteran.
He is drawn to the mall where the shootings took place in the first book and he encounters some lingering spirits who appear there to help him escape his pursuers. His sense of humour is still there!
Having a conversation with a dead guy can be duller than you might think. Only someone in love with his own voice could be routinely enchanted by the experience.
He calls Chief Porter and his friend Ozzie Boone and they discuss his reason for returning. The cultists are back and they want to destroy things again, entranced by the prospect of anarchy.
“I’m not sure it’s the role models,” Ozzie said. “Maybe it’s more related to the pace of change in recent years. Centuries-old ways of looking at the world, centuries-old rules, are jettisoned seemingly overnight. Traditions are mocked and banished. A man—or woman—with an unstable mind sees things falling apart. ‘The center cannot hold; / mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ To a psychopath, anarchy is exciting, the chaotic world reflects his chaotic interior life, confirms his conviction that anything should be allowed, that he can rightly do whatever he wants.”
Just before he starts his long journey, he visits Stormy’s house and we get a glimpse of a love like no other.
I could dispose of nothing. Every item she owned, however inexpensive it might be, was to me a treasure, a store of memory and a memento of love unrivaled and undying. How long I sat there, across the street from the house in which she had lived, I couldn’t be sure. I drove away only when my tremors stopped, only when the world gradually regained its detail and ceased to be just a blur.
I nearly started crying at this point. OK – I am emotionally invested in a series and I this point I was fairly sure that Odd will die. And he’ll be with Stormy again..
Their love was foretold by a Gypsy Mummy in a fair years ago and to this day, the card “You are destined to be together forever” was carried inside his pocket and then given for safekeeping to his best friend, Ozzie.
Regardless of its origins, whether mummified flesh and bones or clay and wire and latex, there might be some magic in Gypsy Mummy. The source of magic in this world is more mysterious than all the explanations that sorcerers and wizards have given for it, and it is more prevalent than can be understood by those who live according to the constricted form of reason so prevalent in our time.
On the idea of Ozzie Boone – his large friend was a writer. And his talent for sharing the research results on different subjects has kept Odd safe for longer than he could have done so on his own. He also has a great philosophy on writing.
Ozzie Boone said that any talent—whether to write songs or to write novels or to track people by psychic magnetism—came with the obligation to use it to the fullest of one’s ability, with a fierce commitment barely distinguishable from neurotic obsession.
A writer, he believed, had to stretch with every book, to explore kinds of stories that he’d never told before, to employ narrative techniques that tested the limits of his gift. In fact, he said, commitment to the point of obsession wasn’t merely an obligation but a necessity, the sine qua non without which the novelist might as well bite on a shotgun barrel and exit this life as Hemingway had done.
As things start to head towards a precipice, Odd finds out there is a new attraction in town, a carnival. He goes there again and finds the Gypsy Mummy machine where he pays a few coins to see his future. All of the pages that he receives are blanks. No future. I absolutely loved how the feeling of dread impacted the view of the fun and colour-filled carnival so it looked like a place of doom. Here’s an excerpt!
When I was no longer of the world, I would miss its extravagant beauty. I would miss the complex and charming layers of subterfuge by which the truth of the world’s mysteries were withheld from us even as we were tantalized and enchanted by them. I would miss the kindness of good people who were compassionate when so many were pitiless, who made their way through so much corruption without being corrupted themselves, who eschewed envy in a world of envy, who eschewed greed in a world of greed, who valued truth and could not be drowned in a sea of lies, for they shone and, by the light they cast, they had warmed me all my life. I would not miss the indifference in the face of suffering, the hatred, the violence, the cruelty, the lust for power that so many people brought to the pageant of humanity.
The cultists have arrived in Pico Mundo in droves and have spread across different parts of the city. Odd was thinking they were trying to blow up the dam and sink Pico Mundo in the flood. Or that they will go on with planting bombs in populated areas. Or that they will start killing indiscriminately. The last one was true. They placed a bomb in the water works to create a distraction and then went to an isolated farm to kill off and torture a single mother and her two twin daughters. Odd, at this point, becomes a killing machine – shooting on sight and taking them out one after another.
As he kills and maims and shoots without warning, Odd is fearing that his core is shifting. He never used to like guns since his mother pointed one at him and he never used to kill. But now he does it so often that it almost becomes like a game to him. And he wonders whether he is turning into one of them..
I found my eyes distressing. I turned from the mirror.
Their particular deaths were not what rocked me so profoundly. I was shaken instead by the cumulative killing that I had done, as if I’d committed the act often enough that, here tonight, I crossed some moral boundary beyond which I would be forever changed, some boundary that I could not retreat behind and find again the person I had once been.
I was not—and never had been—a man of action. I only pretended to be one. I remained always aware that I was pretending, desperately trying to be Mr. Daniel Craig or Mr. Vin Diesel in one of their more assured called upon to do.
The darker Odd Thomas thought his violence must be righteous, in the service of good, for the protection of the innocent. But the other Odd wondered if the claim of righteous purpose, exerted so often in these past two years, was always true—or if it might be overused. There were nights when consideration of that issue would not allow sleep. In spite of all the doubt, my fury didn’t abate.
He has become like a crusader of old, a soldier to fight in the war of good vs evil. Like a saint with a sword (or a gun in this case)
Our world was a battleground on which good and evil clashed, and many of the combatants on the dark side were known to everyone.
The war unseen by most people was one of clandestine militias, unincorporated businesses, unchartered organizations, philosophical movements that could not survive fresh air and sunlight, secretive coalitions of lunatics who didn’t recognize their own lunacy, nature cults and science cults and religious cults. And, as I knew too well, there was supernatural evil participating in this secret war against order, good, and innocence; however, the supernatural was only one regiment of that army and, you might be surprised to hear, numbered far fewer troops than the flesh-and-blood human beings who fought in the countless other battalions.
The evil of the cultists comes not only from their deeds, but from their way of thinking:
What is it I want, and how can I take it from someone that has it. ”
The small advantage that Oddie has over them is in the form of their training:
These people weren’t Navy SEALs or Army Rangers, weren’t trained by the best professional warriors in the world, weren’t seasoned by a real war in which they had encountered an enemy who fought back. They lacked the honor of SEALs and Rangers, lacked ideals that stiffened the spine in times of peril. They were fanatics, driven by emotion rather than reason. Their commitment was to destruction instead of to the preservation of what was good, and this commitment made them feel dangerous, therefore powerful and superior. Being dangerous, however, wasn’t the same as being powerful and certainly didn’t support a claim to superiority. Like all barbarians, they were vulnerable to panic and confusion when the destruction they wished to wreak was visited instead upon them.
As he destroys the cultists and figures out their plan on infecting people with rabies, Odd manages to grab the virus container before being shot down. He dies a hero in Chief Porter’s arms, surrounded by the people in the fair.
Someone said that everyone should stay back, so as not to stress me, but I said no. I said I wanted to see them all, to see people. I wanted to see not just the people I loved and the people I knew, but also the people I didn’t know. I wanted to see people, because people had been my life, the good and bad, but always so many more good people than bad. They had been my life, and I did not want to die without the faces of people as the last thing I saw of that beautiful and mysterious world.
After death, he is reunited with his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn who briefs him on what he will be encountering in the afterlife. His author friend then finds the manuscript of this book mysteriously printing on his laser printer.
I loved this book.
It was a satisfying end to a series spanning 7 novels and a fry cook with multiple talents. The writing is impeccable and the theme not only tackles life and death but the meaning we carry through our lives. It places humankind in the universe and sets the tone of what we should be doing as individuals and as a collective to make the world better.
As the physicists tell us, time was created in the big bang, a necessary condition for the expansion and maturation of the universe. All that exists subconscious level we’re aware that time isn’t enduring, that it is not a required condition of our existence, that there comes a point when we will have no need of it .