Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Relative Reads - Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

 I was given the great fortune of growing up in a family of readers. Both of my parents read, and so do the majority of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. In fact, my Great-Grandma had cataract surgery in her 90's, because she couldn't bear to not be able to read. I thought it would be interesting to read some of the books THEY have discovered and enjoyed over the years, so I asked them to send me some recommendations, and the fun began! I have a list of the titles various family members have suggested on the side of the blog, so if you want to see what will be coming up you can take a peek.

 Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
published 2003
302 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

 "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 confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure 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...

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.

My thoughts:

First Impression (3/27/12) - This is actually my second try at this novel - I started reading it several years ago, and couldn't get into the quirky main character. He is certainly one of the most unique main characters I've ever read, and this time around I'm finding myself enjoying him. The entire cast, in fact, is fairly unusual - there doesn't seem to be a "normal" person living in the entire town of Pico Mundo, which is at times almost a bit distracting. Odd and his friends are VERY unique, and there are times when I feel that stretching at the boundaries of disbelief.

The writing is excellent - I love the style, I love the wisdom, and the humor Koontz invests in his characters. I didn't expect to enjoy the experience of reading this book quite this much, and it's been a pleasant surprise.

"You should not take this to mean that my life is romantic and magical. Too much mystery is merely and annoyance. Too much adventure is exhausting. And a little terror goes a long way." (Odd, p. 3)

Second Thoughts (3/31/12) - About 2/3 of the way in, and I love this novel. The characters that might have seemed a little TOO quirky to be true now have become good friends,and I am fully invested in their lives. There was one major twist that I did NOT see coming, and now I'm all tense and worried wondering what will happen next - the sign of a great suspense novel.

I think as the story progresses, however, my favorite part is the relationship between Odd and Stormy. Their faith in each other, respect for each other's needs and genuine love for their partner is quite lovely. I don't often appreciate a fictional love story as much as I do this one. It is truly beautiful to read, and I can't help but hope for happiness for both of these characters.

Final Word (4/4/12) - Wow, lunch break at work was not the place to finish this novel - I nearly burst into tears. I know this will make me sound like a huge book snob, but I cannot believe how good this was! I definitely have preconceived ideas about books that I call "pop fiction" - you know, the ones you see in the grocery store aisle - somewhat entertaining, quick reads, but not particularly thoughtful or well written. Dean Koontz has blown that misconception out of the water. This novel was spot on in every aspect - writing, characters, pacing, plot. I would absolutely recommend it - it will be one I look for to add to my personal collection, and will definitely read again. Fantastic.

Finished -  4/4/12
Source - loan from my mom
MPAA rating - PG-13 for adult situations and language
My rating - 9/10


bermudaonion said...

I enjoy some of Koontz's books but others are too scary for me. I haven't tried this one and will make a note of it.

Kristen M. said...

It sounds like his writing is better than it was a decade earlier than this one. I read his books for a while in the mid 90s and then I couldn't stand the simplistic writing anymore. I had never seen so many 3-4 word sentences in a book! Maybe I should try a newer one just to see how he's progressed.

Elizabeth said...

Bermuda - I didn't have an issue with the scary-ness. I mean, it was certainly suspenseful, but I didn't have the same sick feeling as when I watch a scary movie.

Kristen - I know what you mean - that was exactly what I was expecting! Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised.

Zibilee said...

I have heard that this is a good book, and one of Koontz's best, so I probably need to read this one when I can. I love that your experiences with it morphed from one reading to the next. Fantastic review today!