*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Odd Thomas" by Dean Koontz, Review Courtesy of Brit Ward

Let me make one thing clear, first and foremost; I love Dean Koontz. I'm not the biggest fan of commercial fiction and, when I read, I generally avoid most contemporary  fiction altogether. But there's something about Dean Koontz and his writing style I adore.

It started when I was younger, the first book I'd read by Mr. Koontz was The Door to December, and I was hooked from the beginning. I don't love everything he's written, but I'm generally entertained at the very least, and absolutely ecstatic and breathless at best.

Odd Thomas is a sort of departure from his usual style, but not by much. The hallmark of Dean Koontz has always been his characters, and I think he likes it that way. They're filled with depth, they are interesting and engaging, and they are the kind of characters that can carry a story. Many of his villains, even, could almost have their own volumes, and that's something I can really get behind. He lovingly crafts each character and treats them with the sort of reverence that people usually save for the likes of Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, or Gizmo the Mogwai. And that sort of devotion really comes through as any time a character shows up on the page, you can literally feel the depth and back story dripping through, even if the prose is only giving the vaguest of hints.

Odd Thomas does indeed keep that style of characterization, but takes on a different tone than a "typical" Koontz book. Koontz has crafted a world, the world of Odd Thomas that is, that is filled with an assortment of odd... Er.... Strange characters who all have eccentricities and peculiar habits that really enhance the story instead of serving to its detriment.

Let's focus on the titular character, however, as that is the driving force behind this novel. Odd Thomas, which happens to be his actual name, is a lovable creation. Blessed (or cursed) with the power to see the dead, he has lived something of a purposefully sheltered and anonymous life, while helping those who have died move on to the other world, all the while living the life of a cook at a local diner.

There are very distinct things that I pick up from Odd in the course of this book, and its sequels; he is very much the voice of reason in these books. Many writers have such a character present in the tellings of their stories. JK Rowling very much used Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books for that purpose, Cleante is very much that guy in Moliere's play Tartuffe, and we can't forget Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (though Skakespeare promptly kills him, but let's be honest; that's ballsy and bad ass.)

In the case of Odd, we have the voice of reason character in the pilot's seat, which is something that many people often don't like, my good friend and comrade in arms Nick Michael being one of them. Heck, I usually am as well. But in this case, I really enjoy it. Koontz gives him enough personal obstacles and a heck an obstacle at the end of the book (no spoilers, I promise) that it doesn't bother me that this character gets a little preachy.

In fact, I often feel like he's doing it as a response to the constant dangers in his life, which I find interesting. As well, it feels like this was Koontz's chance to sort of talk about his philosophy for life, to almost step into a dream world for himself. And I think, as prolific a writer as he's been, he's kind of earned that privilege.

It also almost served as a spiritual successor to the Chris Snow books, a series of books that I need Mr. Koontz to finish. But if you look at the the tone of Odd Thomas after reading Fear Nothing and Seize the Night, you can see a logical bridge there.

(Still, Dean Koontz, I want to know what happens to Chris and his friends!)

You'll notice I've not said much negative about the story. I think the biggest negative people find in Koontz's books is that his stories are a bit basic or generic. I'll agree with that, but the stories have never been the focus. And if you liked movies like Avatar, Super 8, Aliens, Titanic, any super-hero movie, and the vast majority of Hollywood fare, even much of the good stuff, and you're complaining about the simplicity of Koontz's stories, you are a hypocrite. You're entire mentality doesn't make sense. I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't insult readers out there. But come on. Looking at this logically, I would never call The Avengers an amazing plot, but I will call it an amazing movie. I feel the same way about much of Koontz's library.

There is almost nothing else to say about the book. I couldn't nit pick with this one, for good or bad. I loved this book. I still feel Watchers was his best, but this was great. And it looks like the movie version of Odd Thomas will be a lot better than previous films based on his books. Watchers the movie was awful, but if I ever see Phantoms again, I'll need to commit murder. So there you go, go read it. It's great.

And we're getting this guy as Odd!

Brit Ward is the author of the novel "Piggy". As well, he is the director of Out of the Void Productions.

Happy Reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...