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Odd Thomas Hardcover – December 9, 2003
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
In most stories where the main character has some special power, he/she is rarely if ever believed. I like that Odd has a fantastic support system and numerous friends including even the chief of police. Police officers are usually the least likely people to buy into such madness, but Chief Porter does. He's like a father to Odd, something our young hero desperately needs. Odd doesn't have to bear the burden of his ability alone. It's not a completely secret power; it's just a power.
The people who know not only accept that he has it, they trust him with it, and his friends are all so eclectic: Viola and her daughters Nicolina and Levanna, Terry his boss with her Elvis obsession, his landlady Rosalia Sanchez, who asks him every day if she is visible, the fore mentioned Chief Porter and his wife Karla, Little Ozzie who is probably the largest man in the town, and of course, the love of his life Stormy Llewellyn. While all of them do not know what he's capable of, they all accept that he is Odd. He is an example of the "hiding power in simple places" trope where we often see the orphan or the foundling who was left or hidden to conceal and protect who they are and what they have. Odd is also extremely polite, another thing I enjoyed especially coming from one so young where they're often and tritely portrayed as rude. He calls everyone either "sir" or "ma'am" and there's no one he treats with disrespect.
Koontz pulls you in right away with Odd's powers manifesting themselves in a little girl named Penny Kalisto. The dead never talk to him, but they have a way of making themselves heard. The ones that still linger do so for a reason, and Odd feels it is his duty to divine. Seeing the dead is not his only power, but I won't spoil the surprise.
Even though I figured out the major twist long before the final chapter, I still give this tale high marks and have added the second novel, Forever Odd, to my reading list. There's also apparently a movie that I'll need to check out.
Odd Thomas wears its sadness like a pall. It lurks between each word and is the foundation of every sentence.
"Perseverance is impossible if we don't permit ourselves to hope."
The protagonist (Odd is his first name, not just a trait) can see the dead. He is a good guy with a good heart and a true love, but he feels the burden of his gift and tries to make it as much of a blessing as his 20-year old, poor-guy limitations can offer. In this novel of the series, the "apocalypse" in one of its very human forms--no, not the devil and his minions, but the evil that MEN do-- is coming to Pico Mundo (his town). He uses his ability to try and stop the coming carnage. The clock ticks inexorably. Everyone he loves is in danger. He himself might die.
And off we go, reading page by page, loving Odd more, and his delightful girlfriend Stormy, and those who care about him. And those who would rather see him out of the picture.
The story is told in first person (Odd narrates) and you like being in his head and heart. We all want good folks to be heroes, and Odd is good, if haunted by a horrendous childhood. It's not till the latter part of the novel that you learn just how awful his childhood was, and the scene where Koontz delivers this is chilling and heartbreaking.
Koontz knows how to depict evil--both human and inhuman-- and he knows how to depict good--both mortal and immortal. We get both the dark and light of humanity here. The supernatural component includes, of course, ghosts (and Elvis hangs out with Odd), but also another type of being that only Odd can see. Fortunately, Odd is one of the lights in a darkening world.
Terrific supernatural-suspense novel. A page-turner. Don't start reading it until Friday so you can stay up all night. :D
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Always keeps me on my toes. Never a book or series one in the same.