REVIEW: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean  KoontzOdd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003) is the first book in the Odd Series.  Koontz is a writer whose work is often hard to classify sometimes. Some of the work he writes are straight up horror stories and some are not. 

Odd Thomas is a story in between where you have a blend of paranormal aspects mixed with suspense. The story is narrated by the lead character of the story, Odd Thomas. Odd is a twenty-year old, happily content fry cook living in a fictional town in California and is gifted (or cursed) with a sixth sense: he can see dead people.

Odd Thomas sees dead people but they do not speak to him.  Often they appear to him because of some unresolved issue that has kept them earth bound and in need of his help. Or he just sees them, period, in the manner of death that has made them exit this life and fail to move on. Odd’s secret life is shared by only those he trust and those people make up the bulk of the secondary characters who help move this story along.

Starting with  Wyatt Porter, chief of police and more of a father figure to Odd, takes Odd’s concern for a stranger who blows into town very seriously. Then there’s Terri Stambaugh, his lifeline and mentor, who has a fascination with everything Elvis. I really liked her character.  Little Ozzie, a writer who likes to quote the classics, often offers up advice to Odd. Last but not least, Stormy Llewellyn who is the love of Odd’s life and his anchor. Their relationship is one of the best parts of this book.

The plot of the story revolves around Odd’s attempt at foiling the plans of a mass murderer. It’s a nightmare he’s had for three years. When a stranger comes to town, Odd immediately senses danger. The reader learns that Odd can see other things besides dead people, that go bump in the night. Demonic creatures whose mass is ill-defined and their presence foreboding seem to cling to this stranger. This is where the atmosphere of the story gets downright creepy and the suspense is turned up a notch. The stranger is accompanied by “bodachs” whose very presence screams violence.

The narrator goes on to explain what bodachs are to the reader. Readers learn that their presence around humans signifies several things and that is death, destruction and carnage is near. Their increase in number quantifies the level of destruction or carnage that is capable by it’s potential source. In this case, the stranger who has come to town that Odd dubs “The Fungus Man” seems drawn to him like a magnet.  Fungus man seems to attract a handful of these “bodachs” and by the time the stranger leaves the diner, they have increased in number.

Odd is suspicious and worried about this stranger and sets out looking for him. He gathers what information he can and gives it to the police. As the plot slowly progresses, something happens to lead readers down another path and to another conclusion. I admit to being surprised at the plot twist but as we reach the climax of the story, the plot started losing a lot of it’s steam for me and I was just grateful that it finally ended.

After closing the book, I realized that this story was more character driven than anything else. There’s not very much action until the end. The author uses a lot of scare tactics and creepy atmosphere to keep readers on edge. The pacing was  bit uneven and the narrator was completely unreliable to me. I’m a fan of action and down on excessive internal monologues so the scenes where the author expounded on the culture, the town, the area, the history, the lives of the people was just a tad bit boring to me.

Mostly I skimmed those sections of the story. What really captivated me was the relationship between Stormy and Odd. Odd’s love for her was unwavering and emotionally touching. It’s not the central aspect of the story but it plays a significant role in the ending.  The suspense was somewhat weak to me and stretched very thin. There were scenes that for me were heart-stopping, page-turning suspense but others were yawn-inducing. 

There are some humorous moments in the story, examples being the ghosts of Elvis and Lyndon B. Johnson to name a few, who made token appearances in the story. However, the ending left me shocked and it was somewhat unexpected.  After reading Odd Thomas, I was reminded of why I quit reading Koontz oh so long ago. Odd Thomas is not his best work for me.  However, I haven’t read his complete backlist to make that type of assertion. Koontz is good with dialogue and action, good with plotting too but not here. Consider me slightly disappointed with this effort.

After closing the book yesterday, I came away with mixed feelings.  I didn’t read this book straight through and put it down a couple of times so it’s not a keeper for me. There were certain aspects of the story that kept me reading but alas, I feel as if Odd and his adventures will have to go on without me unless I can be convinced otherwise, my grade, B. Others did enjoy this book more than me (like Xina who has read almost the entire series since we last spoke/emailed each other) so check this review at AAR. Ellen’s right, the ending will have you reaching for a box of Kleenex. I do plan to read another Koontz title that hopefully will have more action in it.

[tags]Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas, Series, Paranormal Suspense[/tags]


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Grade B Reviews, Horror and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to REVIEW: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

  1. Amie Stuart says:

    You know this has been sitting in my TBR pile since it came out (in hardcover) *sigh*. I love him but sometimes……

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Well, the book isn’t bad but the ending was one hell of a punch to the gut and I kinda knew it was coming but let myself think that it wouldn’t.
    I’ve enjoyed quite a few Koontz titles: Lightning, Dragon Tears, Whispers—I need to read Watchers. Think I’ll pull that out next.

  3. Amie Stuart says:

    I think Watchers was my first Koontz book. I even went to my UBS (years ago) and got the titles he wrote under a woman’s name….too bad I didn’t keep them LOL I LOVE his older stuff really I do. But I think the last one i tried to read was the Frankenstein book *sigh*

  4. Avid Reader says:

    [quote post=”543″]got the titles he wrote under a woman’s name[/quote]

    That would be Leigh Nichols or Deanna Dwyer, the latter books are expensive. I found a copy a few years ago and sold it on ebay for a good chunk of change. Koontz is good, just haven’t read in years. I’m debating on his newest release, The Good Guy, which has some good reviews and a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

  5. jaq says:

    You write excellent reviews, Keishon. Not good enough for me to try Koontz again (at least, not at this time), but excellent nevertheless.

  6. Avid Reader says:

    Thanks Jaq, I’m sure I can entice you with one of his books, one day. You just never know 🙂

  7. xina says:

    Hi Keishon, Glad you picked up the book again and gave it another chance. I agree with you on most points of your review, however, I liked it a bit more. I just loved Odd’s sweet nature. The second book’s humor is sharper…Odd has quite a few nice one-liners, but the bodachs aren’t there as much. Am in the middle of the 3rd book (bodachs again) but have to retrieve it from my friend’s car (forgot it), so I haven’t been able to finish it. Agree with you about the book not having much action. I guess I can’t compare it to much except maybe the Dan Brown books that are action packed..or at least the 4 I have read are. I mostly don’t read in that genre and romantic suspense doesn’t count…at least to me it doesn’t. Another reader likened Odd to an amateur sleuth and I would have to agree with that.
    The ending….did you not suspect? I had sadly, read a review that gave away the ending. It’s so Sixth Sense-like.

  8. Avid Reader says:

    I loved Odd, too, but the story lacked that umph for me. I may pick up the next one—but-it-won’t-be-any-time-soon! And the ending, I as in denial 🙂 What a punch to the gut. I actually teared up for a second. We better not say more in fear of spoilers, but who are we kidding, nobody’s gonna read it, anyway.

  9. xina says:

    You don’t think so??? LOL….that they won’t read it. Well, I read a spoiler somewhere and knew the ending. That is so sad, because I would have liked that punch in the gut. I am so seldom am surprised! I bought his new paperback…The Husband. I think he has a new hardcover out, but I’m not buying that. I also have Lightning…a rec from you and my DIL who reads romance and said there was a romance in this book.
    The second book…is okay. Odd develops a wonderful sense of humor. The villian is more believable, I think. Did you read where some critic thought that Koontz was writing a saint…meaning Odd? I thought that was interesting. I’ll have to check out the Koontz books you’ve listed in you review.

  10. Avid Reader says:

    I lurved Lightning. Excellent book. I need to reread it. Also have several that were rec’d from other readers when I reviewed Lightning, sometime back but Lightning does have a nice romance in it, more like unrequited love. I Loved it and have reread that book several times. I think you’ll like it. Odd as a Saint? Really? He doesn’t come across that way to me. I have The Husband as well. The Good Guy looks interesting, if I like The Husband, I may give it a try. It’s in ebook, so I’m tempted. Whatcha reading now?

  11. xina says:

    I’ll have to move Lightning up and read it sooner than I thought…sounds great. Everyone who has read that book likes it. I’m off today to pick up Castle Of The Wolf. My bookstore had to order it. *sigh* I liked your review and it sounded like something I might like. I really enjoy a good gothic and can’t seem to find one to read until I read your review. Also I am reading THe Monk Upstairs by Tim Farrington.
    As for the Odd books there has been talk that he’ll do a sequel. Perhaps to get you-know-who back together with Odd in some way. (Notice my avoidance of those pesky spoilers??)

  12. Pingback: Dean Koontz Backlist Available in Ebook Format, Finally |

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