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Friday, January 24, 2014

Odd Thomas Strangely Charming, Surprisingly Thought-Provoking

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Pretend you're me (Congratulations, your life just got infinitely less exciting!).  You're (voluntarily) attending a 2-day long academic conference at a prestigious university, despite the fact that you're really not all that interested in the subject of the meeting.  Your husband, however, cannot wait to absorb everything being said.  You (gracefully) agree to accompany him rather than lounging at the hotel, book in hand.  Aware that lots of great information will most likely be shared at the conference and you really should pay attention, you resist the urge (barely) to pack along the hardcover novel you've been reading.  Also aware that the speakers might just bore you to tears, you sneak in your Kindle (you know, so you can look all brainy while you secretly read something more suited to those—like yourself, but unlike all those around you—with only average intellectual ability.  When you listen to the first speaker and, about 10 minutes into his address, realize you haven't understood a word he's said, do you (a) give yourself a mental slap and vow to pay closer attention or (b) give up and find a good book on your contraband (not really) Kindle.  If you chose A, you know me too well (scary) or maybe it was just a really obvious choice.  Whatever.  The point is, I started reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz while sitting in a classroom at the University of Notre Dame.  And I'm pretty sure I didn't hear another word spoken at the conference, so absorbed was I in the adventures of the book's quirky title character.  

I just can't find a way to properly explain this book, so I'm going to let the cover copy do the talking:
"The dead don't talk.  I don't know why."  But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidante.  Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain amount of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.  Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out.  Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime.  Occasionally they can prevent one.  But this time's different.  A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd's deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15. 

Today is August 14.

 In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares - and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Compelling, right?  It totally is.  Although the novel does get gory and disturbing, it's also intriguing, exciting and surprisingly thought-provoking.  I love Odd, who's got a strange charm about him.  I do have some major issues with the ending of this book, but I can't talk about it without spoilers, so I'm going to have to keep mum, darn it.  Besides the unpleasant twist at the end, I enjoyed Odd Thomas.  A lot.  Probably too much.  And now I need more—good thing there are lots of sequels!

(Readalikes:  Koontz's books have always reminded me of those by horror master Stephen King; also other novels in the Odd Thomas series)


If this were a movie (and I hear it will be soon), it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence/gore, sexual innuendo, and adult themes

To the FTC, with love:  I received a free, finished e-book of Odd Thomas as part of a review I did for Livrada.  Thank you!


  1. Thanks for an interesting post!

  2. I am so impressed that you could read during a presentation. I get distracted so easily, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my book.


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