“Perhaps this was a day of firsts. The day one dies, of course, is a first in any life.”
So, the time has come to say farewell to one of my favourite serial novel characters of all time with this, the final installation in the Odd Thomas series. I don’t think I was ready for that.
I’ve been a huge fan of the series since the start and have read some of them two or three times. I have really enjoyed seeing how much the character has grown and changed over the last couple of books, and this one was no exception. If you go into this expecting the same guy who mooned over a girl who worked at the ice cream shop at the mall and hung out with the ghost of Elvis, you’ll be disappointed.
Cause Odd has been down some dark roads, and it’s starting to take a toll on him. He has been too long without his Stormy. He’s lived too long with the broken promise that they would be together forever. He’s a little lost, and a little broken.
“Sometimes, when I’m feeling sorry for myself, it seems that I’m made to carry an impossibly heavy weight, the crushing weight of losing her. I have moments of bitterness and doubt. You know? But the weight is a blessing, really, and I shouldn’t be bitter about it. The weight is on my heart because I knew her and loved her. The weight is the accumulation of all we had together, all the hopes and worries, all the laughs, the picnics at St. Bart’s bell tower, the adventures we shared because of my gift… If they had taken her away on their yacht, if I had never met her, there would be no weight to carry—and no memories to sustain me.”
He’s seen stuff no one should have to, and even the stalwart and trusted mentors in his life have been touched by it.
“It’s not just that,” Chief Porter said. “A guy who once would have raped and killed a woman, now a lot of times he also has to cut off her lips and mail them to us or take her eyes for a souvenir and keep them in his freezer at home. There’s more flamboyant craziness these days.” Giving the buttered cinnamon roll a reprieve, Ozzie said, “Maybe it’s all these superhero movies with all their supervillains. Some psychopath who used to be satisfied raping and murdering, these days he thinks that he should be in a Batman movie, he wants to be the Joker or the Penguin.” “No real-life bad guy wants to be the Penguin,” I assured him. “Norman Bates was happy just dressing up like his mother and stabbing people,” Chief Porter said, “but Hannibal Lecter has to cut off their faces and eat their livers with fava beans. The role models have become more intense.”
This book is dark. And creepy. And has the same crazy, satanic cultists involved as have been plaguing Odd from the beginning. Except this time, they’re back in Pico Mundo and (even creepier) there is a carnival in town.
What is it about carnivals that add such an incredibly creep-tastic horror vibe to any book? I love carnivals. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. They’re about fun and innocence, right? Except, not really. They’re so appealing and so appalling at the same time.
“It’s difficult to spend time in any carnival or amusement park and not realize that a repressed fear of death may be the one emotion that is constant in the human heart even if, most of the time, it is confined to the unconscious as we go about our business. Thrill rides offer us a chance to acknowledge our ever-present dread, to release the tension that arises from repression of it, and to subtly delude ourselves with the illusion of invulnerability that surviving the Big Drop can provide.”
There’s lots of quirky… well… Odd-ness in this novel, despite the changes he’s gone through. The writing is still funny, though there is less of that here than previously. One of my favourite parts of Koontz books is the humour, and while it is still present, it’s muted, as though the author himself were both sad to say goodbye to Odd and also a bit regretful about the darkness that has invaded this character’s world.
“I often resorted: buckets, brooms, garden rakes, Granny Smith apples, cats that when thrown will reliably take out their fury not on the thrower but instead on the person at whom they’re thrown. I didn’t like throwing cats or animals of any kind, as far as that goes, but every once in a while, in a life-and-death situation, there was nothing to be done but grab a cat and throw it, or an angry ferret.”
I’m still pretty sad that this series is over, but to a certain extent, Odd got the happy ending that I’ve been rooting for, for him, since the very first novel. See ya later, Odd. It was wonderful getting to know you. <3