Book review: Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
** spoiler alert ** Of all the best-selling authors I’ve read, Koontz is the most uneven. Sometimes – for instance in the first volume of this series, Odd Thomas – he can be quite brilliant, taking your breath away with the audacity of his switchbacks and reveals. At other times – say, the second volume, Forever Odd – he can be by-the-numbers ordinary. But even at his worst, Koontz retains a priceless gift, and one that many ‘better’ writers do not match: the ability to make you want to read on, to find out what happens next, to turn the page. Now, as the series has gone on, it has shifted from being about one young man, Odd Thomas, with paranormal abilities to seemingly preparing for the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ! Ambitious, to put it mildly. Unfortunately, a corollary of that is that Odd (it’s written in the first person) spends more time telling the reader about the moral and spiritual decline of contemporary society. Even though I largely agree with this view, it gets tiresome after a while. Besides, it would be better shown than said.
However, once the story kicks in – children abducted by a satanic cult – Koontz’s turbocharger revs up as well, and I flew through the last third of the book. On the positive side, while Koontz’s religiosity can seem a little treacly for my tastes, he sometimes comes up with startlingly vivid insights into the moral and spiritual life, ones which I have tried to take on board. Also on the positive side, it is a book undoubtedly written for the good – and that is no small thing in itself. It’s as if Charles Williams, Inkling, was reborn as a Californian, with less theology but more jokes! So, no classic, but a further step towards – I think – the New Jerusalem!