Hey, Hey, Hey. It’s been a long time since my last book review. It’s not that I haven’t found time to read anything – I just haven’t written about them coz I’ve been procrastinating/feeling lazy/occupied by work/etc….. Okay, nuff with the excuses. 😡

Those who know me probably know I’m a regular at book fairs and suffer from compulsive book buying ( I swear they should recognise that as a legitimate condition), whereby I buy more books than I can ever have time for reading. To date, I have amassed enough to open my own small, private library. I estimate them to be anywhere from 100 to 200 (not counting my classic Mangas).

But I digress.

Recently I finished not one, not two, but THREE novels within two weeks – quite an accomplishment, I must say. When I was unemployed/a student, I could finish a book in two days, but meh.

Today, I’ll be doing a review of Odd Thomas, a novel by American author, Dean Koontz.

Odd Thomas is named after the protagonist of the series, a 20-year-old small-town guy with the ability to see spirits. So what does OT do with this gift/curse? He tries to help the spirits resolve whatever problems they had in real life, so that they might pass on to the next level. This may or may not include dangerous encounters with the ghost’s murderers, as well as serial killers in the making. Meanwhile, despite the occupational hazards, Odd enjoys his double-life as a fry-cook, and a written-in-the-stars kind of relationship with the town beauty, Stormy Llewellyn.

Everything seemed fine and dandy. Odd had just helped the police bust a rapist and killer, laying to peace the spirit of a tormented victim who had sought Odd for help. I liked how the author never told us outright that Odd could SEE spirits. The first ghost he encounters, Penny, seems like a normal character – but Koontz cleverly wrote her in such a way that she seemed JUST a little off, making the reader’s transition of Odd from ‘normal fry cook’ to ‘a Hayley Joel Osment when he was still cute and before he hit puberty ghost whisperer.’

Then a stranger dubbed the Fungus Man comes to town, and Odd has an odd feeling (geddit?). The newcomer is giving off really bad vibes, and Odd is convinced that disaster will strike. From his investigations, he knows something bad will be happening very soon, but how, and why? It’s a race against time as Odd tries to stop what he believes is a hell-on-earth catastrophe, perpetrated by the Fungus Man. He has to do things alone, because although the chief of police in Pico Mundo trusts him, how could everyone else be expected to believe in the word of a ‘psychic’?

The story leads on in a linear kind of way – that Fungus Man is probably the culprit – but Koontz then drops a bomb on you by having his body turn up at our hero’s apartment, shot in the chest with a gun and covered in blood.

What is real? Who is behind all this? The clock keeps ticking…

An indicator to a good plot and storyline is the way it grips the reader in a constant state of suspense – and Koontz manages to do that with his I-narrative. The story is told in a light-hearted way from Odd’s perspective, yet is action-packed when it needs to be. This book had the honour of making it to my bathroom list, which is what I call books I take into the toilet (Yes, that should put you off borrowing books from me) because it was so hard to put down. I always wanted to know what came next, and when the actual killer is finally revealed, you’d go “It didn’t occur to me at all.” That’s something, seeing as most ‘murder’ novels are written in such a way that even with a ‘twist’, you can see the real perpetrator from a mile away (or in this case, a few hundred pages away)

Odd Thomas sure has a few twist and turns, but it also has, in my opinion, some unnecessary parts which did nothing but make the book thicker. This happened a couple of times. A chance encounter between a spirit and Odd in the desert, for example, did not seem to explain anything, other than it’s timely appearance saving Koontz from being attacked by wolves. (Yes, wolves. What, don’t you have wolves in deserts? This is a murder-mystery novel tinged with horror, after all) It made the otherwise unstoppable narrative a little boring in parts.. maybe it was to offer the reader a break?

Spoiler: Watch out for the major ‘twist’ at the end of the book! The mark of a good writer is one that come up with a believable, well-executed twist, with just five pages left to the novel. I won’t completely ruin the reading experience for you, so if you’re interested, go grab a copy of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. It’s the first part of a series, but it can be read as a stand-alone. I’m pretty tired of chasing trilogies, that’s how some publishing houses and authors milk the readers for all they’re worth.

Verdict: 

-Not exactly original, this I can see dead people thing, but Koontz writes it in a way that is both engaging and refreshing.

-Language is simple and easy to read. Suitable, since its protagonist is a 20-year-old and the narrative does sound like a young adult, which I believe is the target market for the books.

-Good storyline, good pacing. I felt that it could have lost the unnecessary plot ‘fillers’ though. There’s an Elvis ghost that haunts the diner where Odd works, and while it does add a good backdrop to the whole ghost whisperer vibe, some sections of the story seem to just put him there for the heck of it. It doesn’t contribute anything other than Koontz trying to impound into you that Odd can, indeed, see ghosts.

– Excellent plot twists. You won’t know what’s coming.

-Overall, a good read! I’d give it a 7/10.