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What a let down
on January 9, 2006
Note: As you can see from both the polarizing response my review has gotten (25 helpful, 29 unhelpful) and other reviews here, this book is a love it or hate it. Ignoring for a moment that it is an Odd Thomas book and looking at it as simply a thriller, I still believe it isn't a very good novel. The writing is sloppy, the villains insipid. Deus Ex Machina abounds, the ending is melodramatic. But I can over-look most of these if the novel thrills me. Forever Odd didn't. Not once was I fearful, not once did a passage grip me and pull me along. In fact, this is one of the first Koontz books that had me skimming to get the gist of what happened.
For those who don't know whether to read this or not, no one can honestly say. I, for one, did not like this book. Others here did. Personally, if you are going to read it and aren't collecting, I would wait for it to come out on paperback. Its just not up to Koontz's (or Odd's) thriller top. And I don't see why we should support weak work; particularly when Koontz is spitting out books so quickly (Husband is coming out next month) and, in my opinion, sloppily.
Unhelpful votes, here I come!
Two years ago, Dean Koontz released Odd Thomas and created his most memorable and lovable character ever. That story fascinated me and the characters pulled me along. It was by far one of the most endearing and tender stories, while at the same time tense and dark. When I heard that Forever Odd was coming out and would be another story centering on Odd, I was over-joyed.
What pulled me along in the first book was Odd's use of language. Koontz did a great job making Odd's voice unique and the first person narrative was perfect. Odd's views, his way of looking at life was a perfect counter point to what was happening on the page. And he was a great imperfect narrator.
Unfortunately, that trend and this book is not the same calibur of Odd Thomas. In fact, the only reason the story fits with Odd Thomas is because of Odd's supernatural ability. The beginning starts out great. It catches the readers up with what's happening in Pico Mundo since the sad events of Odd Thomas. It felt like coming home; Dean Koontz had created such wonderful characters the first time around that seeing them again was a treat. About 3/4s of the book, however, was a silly and insipid thriller taking place in a burned out casino. The casino wasn't scary. The villain's motive was silly, the ghosts weren't spooky. It felt like a rushed job. And, considering how many books Koontz has been publishing recently in a year (another book is coming out in May by the way), I'm wondering if he's been replaced by a machine...I felt no connection to most of the characters, there was too much repartee for no other point than to be "witty," and, the worst offense, the plot was a retread of so many thrillers Koontz has written throughout the years. And, I might add, had done much much better with earlier.
As I continued to read, I found myself flipping through pages, summing up paragraphs and basically skimming my way to the end. The thriller is, at time, intense but it also grows dreary as you realize this is all it is: a thriller dressed up and posing as another life-warming Odd Thomas story. What eventually killed it for me was that Koontz utilizes a Deus Ex Machina, not once but at least twice, and that just soured everything that followed. It just wasn't very exciting.
By the time I got to the ending with its insipid attempt at being another "life-altering" and poignant ending that Odd Thomas has, I was ready to be done. One thing I have noticed with Koontz is that he tends to end his novels with a sappy or "poignant" cathartic moment. In Odd Thomas, it works and affected me in the way Koontz wanted it to. In Velocity it was fairly successful. In this book, I just shook my head.
What really brought this book down to below the average rating for me was expectations. Odd Thomas, the book and character, stands as Koontz's best in my opinion, not only in characterization but also in the three important "P's": plot, pacing and prose. It included characters you genuinely care about, thrills that belied the light tone the imperfect narrator kept, and a plot that kept turning and winding. Koontz took an idea that was tired after Sixth Sense and created a world that jumped off the pages with heart and panache. Then to turn around and release this book is, to me, a mockery of Odd Thomas. Nothing in this book worked as intended for me. From the lazy thriller aspect to the ending that tried to be a "twist" like the first book's, nothing worked. The ending was a lip curling attempt to trick the readers; whereas the first book's ending genuinely worked to provoke catharsis, this one made me shake my head. I was so excited and thrilled to see another Odd Thomas book and then was sorely disappointed at what was given. Here's hoping that if Koontz does write a next book, he will keep more in line with the first instead of dressing up a thriller in tones of Odd.
Not only not up to the first book, Forever Odd isn't up to par with most of Koontz's thrillers.