Good thing I just learned the word threnody, while translating an old, old German lullaby, so I could be prepared for this book. If only Koontz had met me halfway by remembering at least some of what it was like to be 20 years old. Odd would be 100% more believable if he were 50 and these books were his memories on the past, because he's thoroughly incapable of sounding like a 20 year old, no matter how hard he tries. Or maybe he’s not trying at all. Either way, we’re expected to believe that this tortured and bloated narrative is that of a boy barely out of high school, whose life is so deliberately simple that he frequently passes for retarded even among people he’s known all his life.
Odd also has the misfortune of coming off not so much as a cheerful simpleton, which I know he’s supposed to be because he’s constantly telling us so, but as a judgmental old tight-ass. For instance, he inexplicably raises the subject of the local high school recently changing their mascot from the Braves, even though the local Indians never objected, to the Gila Monsters. Later on, when describing an incompetent jury that convicted a cold blooded murderer of manslaughter rather than second-degree-murder, he states his certainty that the same jury would approve of the high school mascot name change. How are these two things related? Because reasons! Or something.
During his adventures at the abandoned casino—you know, where the poor Indians got screwed and had their community destroyed by gambling, insuring their eternal victimization—he tells us that he’d never visited the place while it was operational because when he’s not counseling the dead he prefers silence and books and friends and blah blah blah. It doesn’t even cross his mind that the place was destroyed when he was about sixteen years old. Was he such a judgmental little prick then, or is it new? Or maybe he really is stupid, although that makes it hard to understand the constant use of words so obscure they aren’t even in the Kindle dictionary. Or any dictionary less than 50 years old. I have a collection. I checked.
But Koontz, being an old man who must have had his own memories of youth erased by extensive medical intervention, also had Odd freely acquiring and openly drinking alcohol in the first book, when he was supposed to be 20 years old. Seriously. Even the police chief gives him beer at his home. So underage drinking is nothing, and underage gambling is an option, but sex with the girl he was with for 4 years and intended to marry was off the table because she just wasn't sure, even though she was—and now she’s dead but he’s still planning to be with only her forever, because he’s certain
, based on, I guess, her word, that the random theory she totally just made up at some point about how (she hopes) the afterlife works is absolutely and completely true and he’ll finally get to marry her after he’s dead.
Yeah, Dean Koontz really gets how people work. That’s totally romantic and reasonable, and not at all creepy or sick.
I’m also going to point out that, based on the endless references to Ozzie Boone’s weight, Koontz knows no more about obesity than he does anything else, except maybe Elvis. A four hundred pound man does not require a specially built house with reinforced floors. Homes are naturally built to hold several thousand pounds of furniture and people. Nor would he require custom furniture, and if he did have it made, I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t creak and groan with every movement. I mean, what would be the point? I’ve known quite a few people who weigh that much and more and they sit on regular furniture that doesn’t make any more noise for them than it does anyone else. They also live in mobile homes and drive cars that aren’t reinforced or specially balanced, because again, vehicles are built to carry people and their stuff. If you can fit into it, it can carry you, is the general rule. At least for things built after 1970. Mr. Koontz has been sleep-writing for a very, very long time.
One of the best parts of this book is that Ozzie plays a considerably lesser role here than he did in the first book, so we aren’t forced to endure as many repeated descriptions of how fat he is. Although Ozzie himself does bring it up in conversation at every opportunity (Hi, I’m FAT! Did you forget? Lemme make a lame FAT joke here so you continue to focus on how FAT I am) lest he begin to seem more dignified than an overweight person deserves.
Unfortunately, Ozzie more or less replaced by Danny, a different lifelong best friend, more like a brother, really, who also knows Odd’s secrets (well, the dangerous ones; after ten years of best-friend-brotherhood he didn't know Odd was still a virgin), and whom we’re just hearing about for the first time. Now we learn that Odd was totally there for Danny 24/7 right up until the events of the first book, he just didn’t mention it. Not even when there were bodachs all over town and he was worried about literally everyone he knew. There was no deformed and grieving orphan on his mind then. Nor was this “brother” included in the list of people who knew about Odd’s gift, in either the first book or the third.
After this, and the convent school children in Brother Odd
(yes, I read them out of order; and no, it doesn’t matter; they pretty much all have 150 pages of story and 250 pages of vague references to the first book, intermingled with Odd’s ramblings about himself), I seriously hope we’re done with Brave Little Cripples Who Bravely Overcome ALL THE THINGS With Heartwarming Bravery. Because Koontz handles disability exactly as well as he does obesity and young love (read: grotesquely), and this little cripple, for one, is all pandered out.
Still thinking about reading it? Hey, it’s your life. But it’s also a lot of mangled similes, tortured metaphors, and just plain too many words
for the little bit of nonsensical plot scattered here and there. Think it over and maybe read a couple of the spoilerific reviews. I did and now I wish I’d taken them seriously and not spent a whole day finding out for myself.