From Publishers Weekly
Once in a very great while, an author does everything right-as Koontz has in this marvelous novel. Odd Thomas, who narrates, is odd indeed: only 20, he works contentedly as a fry cook in a small fictional California town, despite a talent for writing. The reason for his lack of ambition? A much rarer talent: Odd sees and converses with ghosts, the lingering dead who have yet to pass on, a secret he has kept from nearly everyone but his girlfriend, an eccentric author friend and the local police chief, whom he occasionally helps solve terrible crimes. Odd also has the ability to see bodachs, malevolent spirits that feast on pain and whose presence signifies a likelihood of imminent violence. The proximity of bodachs to a weird-looking stranger in town, whom Odd dubs "Fungus Man," alerts Odd that trouble is brewing; breaking into Fungus Man's house, Odd discovers not only hundreds of bodachs but a shrine to serial killers that helps him deduce that somehow Fungus Man will wreak widespread havoc very soon-so Odd is caught in a classic race against time to deter catastrophe. As with Koontz's best novels, this one features electrifying tension and suspense, plus a few walloping surprises. But Koontz fans know that the author has recently added humor to his arsenal of effects, and this thriller also stands out for its brilliant tightrope walk between the amusing and the macabre; one of the dead with whom Odd interacts frequently, for instance, is Elvis, still pining for his long-dead mother, Gladys. Above all, the story, like most great stories, runs on character-and here Koontz has created a hero whose honest, humble voice will resonate with many. In some recent books, Koontz has tended to overwrite, but not here: the narrative is as simple and clear as a newborn's gaze. This is Koontz working at his pinnacle, providing terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Odd Thomas is just that. He works as a fry cook in the fictional California town of Pico Mundo. Should he ever leave that position, he sees a future in selling tires or shoes. What he lacks in ambition, he makes up for with a special gift. He communes with and sees the dead, some of whom enlist his help in avenging their deaths from foul play. His gift is a secret from everyone except his beautiful girlfriend and the Chief of Police, who never questions Odd's tips, advice, or presence at a murder scene. The man sees "bodachs" as well, small, evil creatures, fluid in shape, that feed upon horrific acts of carnage. He is horrified to see hordes of them gathering in his town. He spots a weird looking stranger in whom the bodachs appear very interested, nicknames him Fungus Man, and rightly assumes that he is involved in the impending disaster. Breaking into the man's house, Odd finds a mysterious black room, a shrine to serial killers, and a page from a calendar that tells him the date of the planned event. Now it's a race against time to foil the plot. The rapid pace, eerie circumstances, and bizarre characters will keep readers turning pages. Just when the suspense is almost unbearable, Koontz exhibits his wry sense of humor to break the tension. The last chapters are so powerful and heartrending that they should be read several times.Katherine Fitch, Rachel Carson Middle School, Fairfax, VA
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