Book: Odd Thomas
Well, this was unexpectedly enjoyable.
I’ve never been a huge Koontz fan, but I suspect that’s mostly because I just never got around to reading his books. They always seemed sort of mild, and I like my supernatural suspense to be a bit more on the intense side. But once I heard that he always includes a golden retriever in each of his books, then I had to read one, of course!
I had no idea what this was about before I started it on audio, but very quickly I was charmed by the quirky Odd Thomas (yes, his first name is Odd). Odd is a young romantic, besotted with his beloved Stormy Llewellyn, happy to be the best fry cook in town, and determined to keep his life stable and peaceful. Oh, and he can see ghosts (including Elvis Presley, who has decided to spend the afterlife in the sleepy SoCal desert town of Pico Mundo), and has other unusual skills, such as the occasional premonitory dream.
His most recent dream indicated that something bad, bad bad was going to happen. The increase in the number of bodachs sighted by Odd (“bodachs” are mysterious shadowy beings which feast on violence and destruction — Odd can see these also) tells him that the time is near. And when a creepy newcomer, surrounded by bodachs, shows up at the diner where Odd flips his pancakes, he knows that something bad is going down, and soon, and that this guy is somehow connected. And he’s right — there’s a Big Bad in town (a couple of them actually), and everyone is in danger. Can Odd save the day?
The story is sort of a mild suspense thriller, almost YA-ish, but with a few moments of genuine horror (Odd’s mother is one of the all-time Bad Moms). The sweet relationship between Odd and Stormy was touching and funny, and Odd himself was incredibly likeable. I really enjoyed the storytelling tone as well — it was never overly serious, and didn’t try too hard (although a bit heavy on the metaphors) and the story moved along at a good pace, with lots of humorous details and plenty of scary-ish events to keep it lively. I listened to the whole thing very quickly and enjoyed all of it.
The golden retriever was a bit player, showing up on the porch of a relative, but I was glad to see that what I’d heard was true. Koontz has a whole Golden Retriever thing happening, apparently — his website has tons of fun stuff on it, all inspired by his dog, Trixie.
A really sweet, entertaining, slightly scary book with a melancholy ending (I was glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and light at the end, although I was sad about what happened in the book) — there are a few more Odd Thomas books and I think I’m going to be on a streak. They are perfect for listening to in the car. I liked the narrator and the story was gripping enough to help the commute time pass quickly.
(unrelated note: I was listening to The Hunger Games but, long story, I don’t have the second half of the book, so now I have to wait for the CD to become available at the library before I can finish it. I’m currently #9, oy)