Book Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003)

I bought this book earlier this year, for full price (minus 30%) from Borders because I didn’t think I read enough contemporary fiction, or perhaps genre fiction, or maybe just good fiction. I was right; I read this book in under two days from the previous fiction book I read, which is some number of weeks less than it took me to read the penultimate fiction book. Maybe I shouldn’t buy all of my books for under a dollar.

So, onto Odd Thomas. This is the first Koontz I’ve read, undoubtedly influenced by those strange disembodied voices I heard telling me to read Odd Thomas–that is, the radio commercials for it. So I gave it a whirl, and I liked it. But since this is “horror” fiction, I have to compare Koontz to Stephen King, and I like them both so far, but each has different strengths.

The first person narrator of this book engaged me immediately, and the voice carried me through the book. The book builds a lot of small incidents into a climax of less scope than a King book, but the voice carries the reader. King’s books begin with what the dark half in The Dark Half would call the wetwork; third person narration, with each character likeable, but inevitably they start dropping like flies pretty early.

On the other hand, King’s foreshadowing is more subtle; although Koontx does the same, it’s obvious that the paragraphs he dedicates to foreshadowing are foreshadowing; however, I forgive him that.

The book deals with a 20-year-old fry cook in a desert community in California who sees dead people. When a stranger comes into the diner where he cooks, followed by a number of shadowy harbingers of bloodshed, Odd Thomas knows trouble is coming. And as he badly foreshadows, the trouble will change his life and that of his town, Pico Mundo, forever.

That’s a shorter summary than you’ll get on the dust jacket, but it will take you not much longer to read the book.

And I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but Deckard was a replicant.