Review: Odd Thomas

With this post, I have officially finished the year-long struggle that has been the Eclectic Reader Challenge. In another post, perhaps, I’ll talk about what this has put me through and what I’ve learned ¬†from it, but for now allow me to sing the praises of Dean Koontz.

Summary: Odd Thomas (first name Odd, last name Thomas) just wants a normal life with his job at the diner and his soul mate, Stormy Llewellyn. The problem is he can see ghosts, and they usually ask for his help in catching their killers. When evil spirits start haunting Pico Mundo, they all center around someone who’s living, someone who’s about to cause disaster in the town. It’s up to Odd to stop him.

I’ve never read a Koontz novel before, mostly because he has terrible luck with cover art. So I was very happy to start reading it and realize that his writing is actually among the best I’ve ever seen. If I could marry a simile, it would be one of his. He has a way with imagery that I’ve never experienced before, a way to tell the setting in terms of flowery language that somehow doesn’t seem at all overdone. He’s the kind of writer I wish I could be one day, able to let us know exactly what we’re supposed to feel based on where the characters are.

Speaking of the characters, that’s what else stood out to me. They’re all very bold, perhaps a little bit caricature-ish, but again, in a way that isn’t overdone. From Chief Porter to Little Ozzie to Stormy (with whom I may be a little bit in love), Odd is surrounded with people who are interesting in and of themselves. These only help to create the rich world of Pico Mundo.

The plot, too, is fantastic. I really have no complaints about this book. I won’t say much, but the mystery of Fungus Man and his plan for murder kept me guessing right up to the very end. There were so many twists that I felt as though I was right there with Odd, figuring out these things at the same time as him.

One thing I will point out: Koontz mercifully made his characters intelligent. I honestly cannot tell you how many books I have read in which the protagonist, having been given an important clue, spends at least thirty pages wondering what it means when the truth is blatantly obvious to the reader. Not so with Odd Thomas. He recognizes that a series of dots are a message in Braille, he knows what a certain nickname refers to. He is unhindered by the idiocy which seems to be so popular in action/mystery novels, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Odd Thomas was, in all respects, a rather marvelous surprise. The main point you should take away from this review is OH MY GOODNESS PLEASE GO READ IT RIGHT NOW. As for me, perhaps next year I’ll start in on the sequels.

Happy reading.

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