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Forever Odd (Odd Thomas) Hardcover – November 29, 2005
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Besides having an unusual moniker, 21-year-old Odd Thomas (whom readers first met in Koontz's 2003 novel of the same name) has some very unusual powers, chief among them his ability to see the dead. He can see, feel and talk to them, too (though they don't talk back: "Perhaps they know things about death that the living are not permitted to learn from them"). These days Odd is still hosting the ghost of a morose Elvis Presley, still grieving for his dead girlfriend, Stormy, and still worrying about his very fat friend P. Oswald Boone, whose cat, Terrible Chester, likes to pee on his shoes. Late one night, Odd is summoned by the ghost of Dr. Wilbur Jessup to the Jessup home, the site of a gruesome murder. Dr. Jessup is the father of Odd's best friend, Danny, who is afflicted with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bones. Odd finds Dr. Jessup's body, but Danny is missing. Since Odd has what he describes as "psychic magnetism," he can follow an invisible mental trail, which in this case leads him to his endangered friend. After he finds Danny in a spooky, burned-out Indian casino, it is Odd who becomes the quarry. The beautiful and stunningly evil Datura, aided by two frightening minions, wants to use Odd for his supernatural abilities—and then kill him. Odd's strange gifts, coupled with his intelligence and self-effacing humor, make him one of the most quietly authoritative characters in recent popular fiction. (Nov. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Grieving the loss of his fiancee, killed during the climax of his eponymous debut despite anything he and his supernatural intuition could do, Odd Thomas returns in a more suspenseful but less piquant adventure. Only a year older (21), he feels almost ancient and more rueful than ever about his gift for seeing ghosts, Dr. Wilbur Jessup's in particular. The loving stepfather of Odd's brittle-boned friend Danny was alive yesterday, so Odd investigates, as the "psychic magnetism" that attends his ghost-seeing compels him to, and finds the physician brutally murdered and Danny missing. Odd tracks Danny and his abductors to an abandoned casino-hotel, closed by an earthquake that killed dozens five years ago. It's a trap. Danny is bait to draw Odd to Datura, a spookily self-absorbed, wealthy porn entrepreneur and New Age nut, who, obsessed with violent death, wants Odd to make ghosts visible to her. He can't, but there are eight ghosts in the casino, one of whom comes in handy when Odd escapes Datura and her two gorillas, rescues and hides Danny, and engages in the protracted, lethal game of cat-and-mouse that makes the novel good-to-the-last-page enthralling. Quite apart from Odd's moroseness (understandable given his circumstances and endearing youthfulness), the tale's stranglehold suspense allows for less of the offbeat humor that lightened Odd Thomas (2003). Datura is a creation that allows Koontz some sledgehammer polemicizing against alternative religion and spirituality, which additionally darkens things. Not to complain, though. This is only slightly less than top-drawer Koontz. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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There is, however, throughout this book a typical Koontz literary tic that has always annoyed me and is present in this novel, to its detriment. It is the sarcastic aside, the mean-spirited generalization, and the snide politically tinged remark.
Normally, I just shrug at these things because it's up to the author whether a protagonist has the particular worldview that despises the "politically correct" culture around him. It never ruins the book for me, but does signal to me that author has Opinions.
But the Odd Thomas books purport to be manuscripts entirely written by Odd Thomas himself and these sorts of remarks do not at all work for his character. Odd Thomas -knows- that the afterlife exists and accepts his role in easing the dead to peace. No other human being can possibly comprehend the depth with which he knows the human condition and his compassion and empathy for people who are not evil, but perhaps misguided or flawed. He forgives and does not insult the dead by complaining about their thoughts on popular culture. -That- is the essence of who he is. He is humble, self-deprecating, and deeply committed to this work which he -knows- will conclude when he reunites with Stormy. The opinions of the dead are not his business, only peace for their immortal souls. It is what makes him so compelling and endearing. But when he offers snarky observations about Indian casinos, the naming of sports teams and the supposed vapid inner life of anchorwomen, it instantly takes me out of the story. Odd would -never- be so ungenerous. Not to mention, he is -not- a media consumer, or creature. He often remarks about how detached he is from the culture around him. So, why would he have opinions about such trivial matters?
Koontz has obviously taken to heart some of the criticisms of his work, including his heroes' facility with guns and violence, the hyperintelligent dogs, and the ever lurking danger of global government conspiracies. I would be glad if he would also jettison the sarcasms. They do not respect Odd Thomas. They make him seem like a jerk.
That said, I will read all of these books. Odd's journey is one of tragedy and poignancy. I long for the last book and his final reward - to be of service with his beloved Stormy.
Addendum: I forgot to add one last note that I regard as an oversight by the author. There should have been a line or two about Odd visiting the sisters of Maryanne, from the casino. They needed solace (one of them desperately needs law enforcement help) and Odd needed to do that for them and Maryanne, especially to honor her sacrifice, since she was so instrumental in a particularly important plot point and suffered so terribly at that moment.
Generally, this would not be the type of book to interest me. Ghosts and such are not my favorites, but Koontz uses this subject to discuss some very serious themes, while adding huge interest through suspense, a bit of terror, and lots of humor. Free will is his subject in this book, and he handles it so creatively that you are taken on a journey without really knowing why till the end of the book.
I love Koontz's writing and strange thought processes. After saving lots of people from death in book one, people in his town now consider him a hero or an angel. One quip in the story has Odd saying that maybe it would be good to be an angle because then his halo would always provide a light for his book reading. Of course, he even says that thought so much better than I do. I listened to this book on Audible and found the narration to be eerily spectacular. Highly recommend the Odd Thomas books!!