This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for. I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog. While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.
Note: Also I swear I do more than book reviews. These are just quick and easy to catch up and post, because they’ve already been drafted. I feel like that’s all I’ve been putting out there lately, and while I’ve loved books my entire life and enjoy reviewing them, that’s not all this blog is about. There should be an essay up before the end of this week. Maybe I just needed to say this for myself, as I feel remiss.
I made a foray into the writing of Dean Koontz many, many years ago when I was still a teenager with Watchers. It was (as I remember it) a fantastic read, but as it has been a while, I believe it’s time for me to peruse it again. If Odd Thomas is any proof, I believe I will enjoy Watchers as much if not more than I did before.
The titular character is Odd in name and odd in abilities. A twenty year old, short order fry cook with the gift or the curse to see the dead. He lives in the small California desert town of Pico Mundo, which translates into “peak of the world.” I initially thought that our hero’s name was Thomas and Odd was an apt description of him. He very quickly dispels this belief in the first few chapters. The name bestowed upon him is Odd, and despite his mundane occupation and humble domicile, our poor MC’s life has been anything but. This story seems a mere snippet of what Odd has endured since birth, but his latest adventure may destroy everything he holds near and dear.
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.”