Sunday, January 9, 2011

Odd Thomas: Better than I thought...

Odd ThomasMy rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I read this book in preparation for reading the graphic novel, In Odd We Trust, which is the January selection for my book group. I've never read anything by Dean Koontz, and I tend to stay away from these types of books in general. That's one of the advantages of a book group: it gets people to step out of their comfort zones.

I liked this book more than I thought I would--it's actually well written. It's the story of an odd character, Odd Thomas, who lives in a small town in the Mojave Desert. He had a horrific childhood, but somehow survived intact--with a deep sense of intelligence, insight, and compassion rarely found in 20-year-olds. (In fact, this is one of my first criticisms of the book: Odd Thomas did not think or talk like a 20-year-old who has never left town. He talked and thought like a 55-year-old.)

Odd has a special gift: he sees the dead. Through the presence of these dead people (and also darker, more sinister spirits kind of like dementors), Odd helps solve (or prevent) horrific crimes. On the way, he encounters coyotes, tarantulas, body parts, and deadly killers.

This book has a number of grisly and violent scenes and is described in some circles as "horror." It's not particularly more violent than Patricia Cornwell, books, though.

Koontz creates colorful, memorable characters. I enjoyed reading about Odd's friendships with the town's most eccentric characters, in addition to his unique, intimate relationship with his girlfriend, Stormy (actually named Bronwen, a name I have liked since I had a childhood friend by that name). (Although his chaste relationship with Stormy, although wonderful, probably was another example of an unrealistic portrayal of a 20-year-old.) Even though Odd did not seem particularly realistic, he was a hugely sympathetic, likable character. It's easy to cheer for him and to want him to be happy, although I have a feeling that is unlikely to happen.

SPOILER ALERT! (Do not read below here if you do not want to have the ending ruined.)


In the beginning of the book, Odd essentially hits us over the head with the fact that he is not going to be a reliable narrator. Perhaps indicative of my optimistic nature and my tendency to want a happy ending, I kept hoping that Odd would be able to avert tragedy for himself and Stormy. (After all, he was able to avert tragedy for several others.)

I should have known better. I shouldn't have been sucked in. Because, you guessed it, Odd Thomas does not have a happy ending. I felt cheated in the end, although I can't say Koontz hadn't warned me.

No comments:

Post a Comment