I’ve decided to include book reviews in my blog. Most of these will be audio books I’ve downloaded from Overdrive through my local library. (Follow the link at the bottom of page to see if your local library offers this service.) I love Overdrive. It’s my favorite library branch. I can visit in my jammies, and there are never any late fees.
I just started the fourth book in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz (not to be confused with Dean R. Koontz, though their genres overlap a bit). The title character is a 21-year-old short order cook. Odd Thomas really is the name on his birth certificate. His parents claim it was a clerical error and they really meant to name him Todd, but they never called him anything but Odd. The name’s a perfect fit, however, as Odd is just that. He can see what he refers to as “the spirits of the departed”. Sometimes he helps them cross over to the next life. Sometimes the spirit of a murder victim comes to him for help in bringing his/her murderer to justice. He handles each visitation with an easygoing roll-with-the-punches attitude.
Odd doesn’t ask for much out of life. He left his dysfunctional home at the age of 16 and got a job at the local diner as a short order cook. He has a gift for the grill and makes the fluffiest pancakes in the country. He wears the same outfit every day: white t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers — with the occasional sweatshirt on cold days. Most of his possessions (furniture, appliances, sweatshirts) come from the thrift store — not because he can never afford new things, but because he sees no point in spending the extra money for things he could easily find second-hand. It isn’t necessarily a sense of frugality. He simply doesn’t care how new or fashionable his things are, so why spend more for them.
My favorite thing about Odd is his quirky sense of humor. He’s always making funny comments in his casual, offhand way. He isn’t looking for a laugh; he just says what he thinks, and his observations can often be quirky, snarky, or downright bizarre. There’s a scene in Odd Hours (book four) when he comes face to face with a rat and suddenly envisions a ridiculous scenario which ends in the rat freaking out and scurrying up his pant leg and into his butt. Yeah, I know it’s ew, but the way Odd tells it has everyone around you wondering what the heck you’re laughing your head off about. (A sentence ending in two prepositions. I’m sure my various English instructors would be horrified.)
Along with the ability to see spirits, Odd has been gifted/cursed with what he calls “psychic magnetism”. It’s an instinct that leads him to the people who need him. He can also see dark creatures he calls “Bodachs” (bo-dox). They’re sort of like J.K. Rowling’s dementors. They seem to feed off the life energy of people who are soon to die. They flock to the scenes of impending disasters such as a fire at a nursing home or a gunman on rampage at the local mall.
The books definitely have their creepy and/or violent parts, but most of the time you just get to follow Odd around and view life from his point of view as he faces whatever fate deals him. Odd is definitely the sort of guy you”d like to know in real life. Koontz has made him likeable without erring on the side of perfect. The hero has his flaws, but you love him for it. Even Elvis likes to hang out with him. I’m already looking forward to book five.