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Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
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Odd Thomas (2003)

by Dean Koontz

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Odd Thomas (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Here we have a definite argument for giving an author a second chance. My previous experience of Dean Koontz had been The Taking, which I loathed utterly. I found it annoyingly written, badly conceived and preachy. However, I had heard it wasn't typical of his work (my girlfriend is a fan, although she hasn't read The Taking), and when I was given the audio of Odd Thomas I thought I'd give it a go.

Odd (who has heard various reasons for this given name, none of which are quite convincing), is a short order cook in the quiet mid-Califoria town of Pico Mundo. He is very good at this, is polite, respectful, simple though far from stupid, and liked by just about everybody. And he sees the unquiet dead. They do not talk to him, but he often understands that he can help them and he states that he has often helped the local police force apprehend killers – although only the police chief and a few other select friends know of his gift. Odd has also been having a recurring dream of bloodshed on a large scale, and this book unfolds the psychotic plot behind that vision.

I have often been perturbed to see reviews where the reviewer's sole reason for disliking a book seems to be a dislike of the main character; many great and good stories revolve around characters that are unsympathetic, flawed or even downright unpleasant. This, however, is one of those books that relies on the attractiveness of the protagonist. You can't help feel that you would get on well with Odd Thomas, and value him as a friend or acquaintance. Perhaps a little too nice, although Koontz manages to avoid even this failing from detracting. (When we learn about Odd's background it's possible to wonder just how he turned out so well, but that's another issues).

Koontz gives us what is basically a thriller with a supernatural slant. Odd's premonitions and his Psychic Magnetism Sense (PMS as his girlfriend has christened it, in one of the many nice touches of humour) leads him to uncover a murderous event in the near future (I was put in mind slightly of Stephen King's The Dead Zone, although the TV show more than the book, but I loved that TV show!) and setting about to prevent it. As Odd says early on, “I see dead people and, by god, I do something about it.” Because of the premonition lead story, and the feeling that the hand of fate is ever present, there is quite a heavy deus ex machina element to the plot – there were a couple of points when I thought “why doesn't he do that?”, where his action or inaction proves crucial later on – but in the reality of the book that seems to fit. Odd says that he doesn't believe in coincidences, a statement that is guaranteed to set my teeth on edge in the mouth of a cop or private eye, but Odd sees the unexplainable on a daily basis and not only believes in god but believes that he will go to a better place after death – although not with quite enough conviction to make him sound smug about it. This is fair enough in the context of the book; after all, ghosts and the supernatural are an integral part of the plot.

As well as the deus ex machina there are other problems. Sometimes Koontz's authorial voice jarred me a bit as it seemed at odds (sorry) with Odd's voice. One of the things I hated about The Taking were the right-wing rants, and occasionally in Odd Thomas these creep in – sometimes in a fairly minor way that many people might think (on using his laminated drivers licence to jimmy a lock Odd states that at last he's got something back for his state taxes), to a random rant about the arrogance of scientists, to a truly bizarre statement that the golden era of Elvis was the last time popular music was pure because since then all pop music consists of nothing but pro-Fascist anthems! These do, to me, seem to jar, but I guess I didn't create the character so the author should know him better than I do, although it does sometimes feel as though the author is rather more judgemental and less likable than his protagonist. On the other hand, Odd has a thorough dislike of guns which is, I understand, rather unusual for a Koontz book – The Taking, certainly, was bit of a Evangelical survivalist wet dream – but the attitude to firearms here is much more ambivalent.

There is a certain amount of moralising, but I didn't find it overdone – as I had, frankly, expected to. Good and evil are clearly defined, and there is no real reason given for the evildoers actions [even their supposed satanism seemed more like a self justification than a driving force]. It is interesting to compare Dean Koontz to Stephen King. In King's small towns the presence from outside reveals evil already present, or builds on petty human failings to create evil, but Koontz makes Pico Mundo something of a bastion of tranquility that is invaded by an evil from without – although not entirely so, as the characters' back stories reveal, which stops it being too perfect.

Along with some nice characterisation, good pacing and occasionally lovely, often understated, writing I was happy to share Odd Thomas' little world with him for 400 or so pages. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
This is a great book. Odd is a true philosopher - someone who knows life and yet realizes how much he doesn't know. His true talent isn't seeing those not there but in making deep, meaningful connections with the people around him. He sees the possibilities in a person. I have fallen in love with Odd and his life and can only hope that Koontz continues the series. ( )
  mmoj | Mar 2, 2017 |
Odd Thomas is one of the most endearing characters to ever step out of a book. He charms us with his underlying wit and sensible concerns. Odd is a hero who brings out the best in most people, and protects them against the worst. A supernatural power like his is a gift, and sometimes a curse. This is a great story that will leave you wanting to read more of the series. I am a Koontz fan, and true to his calling card, the reader is led down a trail of good vs. evil, and our hero saves the world - kind of - read the book if you enjoy in depth weird characters with heart, and will want to read more of his story. ( )
  ElisabethZguta | Jan 23, 2017 |
I couldn't figure anything out ahead of time. I like that. Really good. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Jan 19, 2017 |
I couldn't figure anything out ahead of time. I like that. Really good. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Jan 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Koontz, Deanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, David AaronNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Hope requires the contender
Who sees no virtue in surrender.
From the cradle to the bier,
The heart must persevere.
Dedication
To the Old Girls: Mary Crowe, Gerda Koontz, Vicky Page, and Jana Prais. We'll get together. We'll nosh. We'll tipple. We'll dish, dish, dish.
First words
My name is Odd Thomas, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553384287, Paperback)

“The dead don't talk. I don't know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn. Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares—and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Dead people try to communicate with a short-order cook, who serves as a small desert town's reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy with a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill, and he is rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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