Sometimes saving the day can be a real pain.
Odd Thomas, a 20-year-old fry cook, enjoys the simple life. He makes flipping burgers look like an Olympic sport and he dreams of marrying Stormy Llewellyn, the girl he is destined to be with forever. He also shares his small apartment above the garage with Elvis – yes, that Elvis.
Odd is a clairvoyant. The dead visit him, sometimes for friendship or help moving on – other times seeking revenge. Odd regards this sixth sense as both burden and mission. When a strange newcomer to Odd’s diner is accompanied by a host of bodachs, supernatural shadow creatures that gather to disaster like vultures to roadkill, Odd gets the heebie-jeebies. That’s never good.
Compelled to investigate, Odd beings searching the man’s life for a clue of how to stop the impending blood bath and save the day. But the path to understanding is never as easy as it seems. Odd must overcome each obstacle in a race against time before he can prevent the deaths of so many friends and loved ones.
“I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it.” – Odd Thomas
Koontz wrote the book from the first person perspective of its subject, the humble narrator who lives an unquestionably odd life. The book is actually a journal chronicling his experience, and Koontz mixes in Odd’s dysfunctional personal history throughout the high-tension narrative with such deftness that it melts into the plot rather than slowing it down. He set up the story as a journal, which allows Odd to disclose his foibles and insecurities in a stream of conscious style while hiding the most important secrets until last. It’s very clever.
I read numerous Dean Koontz novels before finally picking up “Odd Thomas.” As always, Koontz’s writing manages to balance a character-driven narrative with the thrill of action. Impressively, even the city acts as an important character in each scene. But what sets this book apart from the rest of Koontz’s bibliography is Odd Thomas himself.
Odd is young enough to be naïve about people but experienced enough to be wary. He shares a close relationship with Pico Mundo’s police chief but doesn’t mind picking locked doors if he thinks it is for a good cause. He’s a quick thinker but not a fighter, which sets him apart from many other action heroes of the day and heightens the dramatic tension throughout the novel.
From start to finish, I fell in love with the characters: Stormy, Little Ozzie and Pico Mundo itself. But while Koontz’s story is gripping, it would not be half so captivating were it not for Odd Thomas. He engaged me through his first adventure and left me hungry to read through the next.
Rating: 5 Stars
Most Ominous Award goes to: the tarantula
Favorite Minor Character: Stormy Llewellyn
Added Bonus: If you loved the book, it’s recently been adapted into a movie starring Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov of Star Trek fame). Check it out!
Have you read “Odd Thomas”? If so, what did you think was most striking about the book? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, @HannahScribbles!