Friday, July 20, 2007

Odd Thomas

A decade or so ago I read Dean Koontz book Watchers and really enjoyed it. I followed that one up with Lightning which I liked even more. All told I probably read about a dozen of his books, including Cold Fire, The face of Fear, and Shadowfires, but after a while I found that the books had a sameness to them that eventually caused me to stop reading them. They also were very long and tended to spend more time than I liked on character back story. I know that makes some readers feel as if they "know" the character, but for me, it just slows a narrative down. (Laura always says I'm not interested in deep characterization. I think she's right.)
Anyway, Wednesday afternoon I was looking over the paperbacks at the grocery store and spotted a book by Koontz called Odd Thomas. Put me to remembering the days when I really liked his books. I thought, "You know, I wish Koontz would write something in a first person point of view. It would probably eliminate the whole back story thing because he would only be writing from the pov of one character and wouldn't feel the need to spend pages and pages on the history of every freaking character in the book."
I picked up the book and flipped through it and low and behold it was in first person viewpoint. Well, says I, doubtlessly I was meant to buy this book. When you make a wish and it is granted on the spot, you shouldn't tempt the fates. So I bought Odd Thomas.
I started it last night and was still sitting up past midnight reading. It's great. Has all the stuff I used to like about Koontz without the slow parts. I also like the narrator a lot. Odd Thomas is indeed odd. Like the little boy in the Sixth Sense, Thomas sees dead people. he also sees otherworldly demonic spirits who always arrive as harbingers of violence and tragedy. Thomas gets involved with spirits who can't move on, usually helping to solve their murders. He's friends with the local police chief who knows about Thomas's strange powers and follows up on the kid's weird hunches. In some ways it's almost a superhero story. Like Baron and Rude's Nexus, Thomas is driven to find justice for people who have met death at the hands of murderers.
This time, though, Thomas may be up against something else. I'm halfway through the book and a record number of the shadowy harbingers have arrived in our world, indicating that there may soon be a violent incident of biblical proportions. And what about the stranger in town who has a room in his dilapidated old house that seems to be a doorway to another dimension. And why is the spirit of Elvis Presley hanging around? I'm having a lot of fun with this book. There are already two sequels to Odd Thomas in print and a fourth volume is promised. Hope the others are as much fun as this one. And welcome back, Dean.

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