Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Odd Holiday

And no, I don't mean a close encounter with a nefarious fruitcake. I'm referring to Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz's delightful character from his novel of the same name. Jenny and I co-reviewed the first Odd installment back in October. Since then, I've been continuing to follow his story with whatever snippets of time I can sneak in between decking the halls and trolling the ancient yuletide carol. And because said snippets of time are few and far between, I will lump all three follow-up books together into one review.

Koontz has published four Odd Thomas novels thus far, and has even jumped on the graphic novel bandwagon with In Odd We Trust (a graphic novel that apparently takes place in the pre-Odd Thomas days). Of the four novels, Odd Thomas continues to be my favorite. But the next three are still worth reading. (I haven't read the graphic novel, so someone else will have to chime in about that one.)

Forever Odd follows the style of Odd Thomas in that Koontz immediately jumps into the action with only a little bit of exposition. The whole novel again takes place within one day, but instead of trying to save hundreds of people from an unknown catastrophe, Odd is trying to find his crippled friend who has been kidnapped by unknown villains. Odd continues to be delightful in his unassuming wit and guileless integrity; worming his way further into the reader's heart. At the same time, the villains are even darker and more disturbing than we've seen before. This time the leader is a woman who is as evil as she is beautiful. She's assisted by two henchmen who are similarly disturbing, but for reasons that you don't fully understand until the end of the book. Her satanic obsessions are pretty gruesome, but fortunately Koontz goes in a different direction with the villain in the next book so we get a reprieve from that theme.

At the end of Forever Odd, Odd decides that he needs to get away from it all and goes to stay as a guest in a monastery in the high Sierras. This is where Brother Odd picks up. Odd is enjoying the quiet monastic life (with only one resident ghost to cause the occasional incident) until bodachs start prowling the monastery and nearby convent school for disabled children. We meet some memorable new characters, like Brother Knuckles (a repentant former mob thug), a grisley Russian who serves as a great foil and together with Odd provides the best banter in the book, and a very special dog named Boo. Elvis tags along as he did in the first two books, but he plays a more interesting role and, for me, earns more of an attachment. This time Odd faces evil forces of a less tangible nature, and Koontz employs a lot of sci fi elements that left me shaking my head and saying, "Okay, if you say so...." But even though I didn't get all the quantum physics mumbo jumbo, there were some great thrills and chills and heart-warming characters to carry me through.

Odd Hours is Koontz's latest book in the series, but is clearly not meant to be the last. The stakes are the highest yet, involving coordinated nuclear attacks on major US cities. Once again, Odd has only one day to try to thwart the evil plan, and meets some characters along the way who are so mysterious they make Odd seem less.....well.....odd. This had the makings to be Odd's most intense adventure yet, but I was disappointed when it was over and the adventure had barely started. Koontz clearly has more up his sleeve because very little was resolved, and even less was explained. It's as if he said, "Why sell one story when I can chop it in half and get twice the mileage out of it!" Odd joins forces with a young pregnant woman who is supposed to be incredibly significant, but I couldn't have cared less about her. It does include some of the best pithy dialogue of all four books, and there's a funny running comparison between Odd and Matt Damon à la Jason Bourne. I just wish that Koontz had taken the time to finish the story before publishing it. (It's not like any of these stories are very long to begin with.) There are some very strong implications that this is going to be the biggest and baddest conflict of all -- even the culmination of Odd's unique life. But we'll just have to wait and see if that's the case when he publishes the next one. And it had better be worth it, because he's got some making up to do after that unsatisfactory ending!

And yes, I'll be getting on the list for the next one when it comes out. Odd has become one of my favorite characters and I'll definitely be seeing his adventure through to the end! But for now, I think I'll go dig into some figgy pudding....


  1. Man, I forgot how much I loved that book! Hopping over to my library's website...

    Any idea when the next book comes out? It would be nice to time it that I finish all the other books right about the time it comes out, so no suspenseful waiting around would have to be endured.

    I'm so glad you read these other books so I could be convinced to read them myself.

  2. I couldn't find anything online about when the next one is supposed to be published. But yeah, I wish I'd waited on Odd Hours until the next one came out so I could have jumped directly into it. The other two are safe to read, though, because they both end with good closure.

  3. Perfect! Now I have another series to get into. I'm hoping they are easy to get at the library so I don't wait on the hold list forever. Thanks for the review, Caren!