In the fifth book of Dean Koontz's bestselling Odd Thomas series, Odd Apocalypse, the end of the world is coming — and it's overtly political. The novel's hero, 21 year old fry cook Odd Thomas, mourns the state of society. And the signs of an impending punishment on mankind don't take him by surprise.
"An apocalypse is a revelation," Koontz writes at one point. "It revealed what humankind, by its arrogance and reckless certitude, would bring down upon itself."
At this point, the politics of Koontz's saga are getting clearer than the plotting, which takes in a time travel plotline and celebrity ghosts, in the midst of its story about a cursed estate.
In Odd Apocalypse, the psychic Odd Thomas and his pregnant companion Annamaria have left California's Magic Beach to stay at Roseland, the 90-year-old estate belonging to a man named Noah Wolflaw. At Roseland, Odd encounters the ghost of a murdered woman in need of his help. When he sets off to locate her son, who is supposedly trapped on the estate, mysteries begin to pile up. The grounds are too pristine, the help are acting suspiciously, and man-eating pig-like creatures are on the loose. Once Odd starts getting answers, the rescue mission becomes one of delivering justice. "No place of my experience had ever been more beautiful than Roseland," he says, "and no place had ever felt more evil."
Apocalypse offers rich descriptions of events, imaginative settings, and an effectively twisted world of heroes and villains. Yet characterizations are shallow, if not downright sloppy. Odd describes himself as "a mere fry cook" and as having been "a member of the baseball team, not the science club," yet he holds an almost encyclopedic knowledge of everything from literature to animals to horticulture. Apocalypse is written as memoir, but much of Odd's account simply describes events as they unfold with only the occasional reference to deeper thoughts. At his age, Odd must have things on his mind that he's not sharing. Plus, his sporadic critiques of pop culture seem more like the ruminations of a 67-year-old author trying to connect. With so many souls in need of help, when does Odd have time to watch or even think about Dancing with the Stars? At times, the perspective comes off as belonging more to Koontz than to Odd.
The other thing that stands out in Odd Apocalypse is how meta it becomes. The plot takes a lot of familiar turns — which Odd calls attention to by comparing the events around him to similar ones from other books and movies. At various points in the novel, Koontz also mocks the Twilight and Harry Potter series, but his own story is also about a supernatural young adult coming of age. (It's even getting the Twilight treatment with a movie, coming out next year.)
I only wish Odd had played up the irony of pig-like creatures trying to eat a fry cook. Come on, Koontz.