Nathan reviews Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, Bantam Books, 2003, 399 pages
As we are introduced to the title character–yes, “Odd” is his real name–he tries to downplay a lot of who he is and what he has done, identifying early on as an “unreliable narrator” due to advice he receives. Still, one should probably not trust a narrator who is already calling himself unreliable anyway, but he makes you want to trust him for his casual and nearly-normal seeming self – keeping it light as Little Ozzie recommends. Before he can really do much to introduce himself, he jumps right in and shows the reader one way in which he lives up to his name. He is not quite sure where he fits in with this life or Death for that matter, but he is taking opportunities to right the wrongs he encounters along the way.
Odd can never quite shake these recurring encounters, either. They literally seek him out and cause him to have run-ins with law enforcement; thankfully, the moments with the police typically go pretty well for him. Still, he cannot help but put himself right in the middle of big moments. Of course, he gets some… well… let’s call it spiritual guidance to point him in the right direction. Occasionally, he will get some interesting company who just likes to tag along and keep him company.
While the subject matter can turn a bit heavy or perilous, Odd finds a way to keep the mood a bit lighter with humor, usually directed at himself. Perhaps this is a means of deflection for the serious or coping with the ominous. Either way, the simple quips land well and would be almost disarming in their effect if potential impending doom were not also part of the conversation. It does not matter whether the jokes are said to another character or just part of the overall narration.
Being written in first-person helps sweep you into the action and detail of the novel. The mystery elements keep me going and going into the story. Chapter breaks almost rush up and surprise me as I read. The prose is smooth and quick. As Odd’s anxiety for the climax grows, so did mine. The farther I found myself in the book and the more pages were behind me, the more I wanted to read faster and faster. I could not help it. Imagine rolling freely downhill, steadily picking up speed as you go. That is how I read the remaining hundred or so pages.