Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1)

By Dean Koontz

259,955 ratings - 3.97* vote

The dead don't talk. I don't know why. But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different.A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde of hyena-like The dead don't talk. I don't know why. But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small

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Book details

Paperback, 446 pages
August 29th 2006 by Bantam

(first published 2003)

Original Title
Odd Thomas
ISBN
0553384287 (ISBN13: 9780553384284)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Aaron Woodsworth

I haven't read Dean Koontz in years, and I wanted to see if I'd made a hasty judgment about him being not so good. He wrote a book called "Lightning" that I liked, but others I read were, as they say, "Meh." I picked up this book and the next in the series, "Forever Odd," and thought "sure, why not?"

Let me answer that question for you:

Dean Koontz' 20 year old I-see-dead-people fry cook character reads like a 20 year old written by a 50-something year old that assumes he can write a believable 20 year old character. Obviously it can be done well by many, but it doesn't work here. 20 yr. olds don't talk like this, they don't think like this, and the last time I met a 20 yr. old male that was vice free and often thought to himself that he'd have fit better in the 1950s---and is a virgin---AND wasn't Mormon was...well, I'm still waiting. Sure, one of those factors is easy enough to find, but the combination is rare enough to give one pause.

Do you like books that end at least 15 chapters with a "something bad was on it's way," or "I could feel the danger drawing near," or "Oh my God, things are about to get terrifying!" sort of sentence? Well, this book is up your alley, because about 70% of it feels like that ghost story you heard at camp that took hours and ended up being a kitten trapped in the closet and you wanted to poke the kid who told it but he was the Scout Master's son so you just walked off and cursed under your breath. That's not a spoiler. It's not a kitten that ultimately shows up to let loose the horrors---but that would have been better than what does come.

Do you like books that feature a morbidly obese best friend/mentor character, and every scene with that character reads like "You are my friend, but your weight worries me, and I care about you so stop being fat, please." And the friend says "I am glad a fat guy like me can have a friend like you, being as fat as I am---and hey, watch out for my cat, he's fat as well." If so, then this book is for you! Every scene---and it's not just fat characters---reads like judgment, which gets annoying fast.

Do you like books that inexplicably feature the ghost of Elvis, and the only music that people listen to are songs by, you guessed it, Elvis! And you get to learn lots of trivia about the King, because one of the main characters is obsessed with him. Yep. 20 yr. olds listen to Elvis all day, don't they?

And though this has nothing to do with Koontz' writing, it bugs me nonetheless: I don't like the fact that I have to pretend when looking at Koontz' author photo where he sports a thick brown mop of hair that when I read him in the 80s he looked like Dr. Phil. Maybe not that bald, but balder than now, that's for sure. I don't like that I'm supposed to just pretend that this new thick hair is real. The fiction has to stop somewhere, doesn't it? I think so. That just bugs me a little...

I'd write more, but why, really? I may be a bit more harsh than usual, but I just read 2 of these back to back, and am not going to follow Odd to go live in a monastery for the 3rd book, or wherever else he goes in the 4th that's out now. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you have to read the bad with the good in order to appreciate the talent of the writers you love. Koontz isn't a horrible writer, it's just not good, and it's really just not for me. Clearly he's doing ok, and sells books like crazy, so I don't think he'll be worried that I'm not riding in his bandwagon. And honestly, more power to him. This may be somebody's favorite book, and that's great, that's the beauty of books---we don't all have to like the same thing. That said, we're probably much more likely to get along well if this isn't in your top 100.

That's all. Two books. One star.

A:

Lyn

Hooray for Odd Thomas!

That’s really his name, by the way.

Dean Koontz has made a winner with this 2003 publication that spawned ten other works (as of 2015) and a 2013 film.

First of all, Koontz crafted in Odd a very likeable hero. Notice I did not use the term protagonist, as Odd is a real hero, doing what is right, having fun with it, and being an all around great guy. Odd’s heroism is emphasized by his comparison to his thoroughly unlikeable and completely unsympathetic parents. By showing us Odd’s parents, Koontz also adds depth and character to the already interesting storyline.

And he sees dead people.

Odd also sees what he calls bodachs. These are wolfish, shadowy creatures of unknown origin that might be demons, or they might be something else. Koontz’ creation of these beings allows him to maximize the creepy factor of this horror / thriller / paranormal thoroughly unique and way cool narrative. The Bodachs also allow a furtherance of Koontz’ brilliant use of foreshadowing. In one respect, the shade-like bodachs may be the literary embodiment of foreshadowing and Koontz even allows a brief description of the beasts that suggests this.

Odd also has a sixth sense, what he calls psychic magnetism that allows him a fun perspective on all the supernatural shenanigans going on.

Finally, Odd Thomas is simply a well put together and charismatic good read.

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Luffy

I usually do not read supernatural books. When I read Chain Letter 2 back in high school, I went against popular opinion and rated Chain Letter 1 higher, because 2 was a premise with supernatural events.

Back to Odd Thomas, I loved reading even the low key chapters. Dean Koontz has a knack for oozing interesting things from even the most mundane thoughts or settings.

I feared who would die in the end, and I was surprised. I cried like a kid and I recommend Odd Thomas, and I'm going to read book 2 for sure, sooner or later. These days I rarely cry because of books, but here I was overcome.

Not Now...Mommy's Reading

Best Read of 2004!!! Wow! What a way to start a new year. This is the first book I've read by Dean Koontz and I'm kicking myself in the behind for overlooking the man for some many years! After this review, I will make it a point to get my hands on a copy of everything the man has ever written.

I first mentioned this book to my ex-husband after coming across it in the bookstore early December. Back cover seemed interesting enough but, not being a fan of Koontz, I decided to put it on my "wish list". A few days later, my husband handed me the book (God Bless The Man! *grin)and with the first words ("My name is Odd Thomas...") - I was hooked!

There are no simple words to describe this book - it is a literary masterpiece. There were times when I forgot that I was reading a book and felt as if I were reading a memoir of sorts (in fact, it is from this view that Odd presents his story to the reader). You not only get to know each of the different characters Odd encounters in his life (each unique in their own ways) but you begin to care about what happens to these people. Many times I held my breath, struggling to keep my eyes from leaping to the paragraph below to see what fate awaited a member of Odd's "family".

I've read some pretty good books in '04 but one of my biggest complaints have been that the books start off very well but I find myself rushing through the ending. I clung to every word in this book, sometimes stopping to savor a particular phrase delivered by the narrator. And the ending delivered! Man, the writing is nothing less than awesome! So simplistic and yet so genius!

Hats off to Mr. Dean Koontz for a magnificent job!

Matthew

This was one weird story that ramped up to great 4 star finish. I was skeptical through the first 3/4 of the book or so, I even had a hard time staying interested, but the end was great. I look forward to more in the series.

Chelsea ❤Peril Please❤


This book wasn't supposed to make me cry. This book was supposed to be simple, mindless fun. I wasn't supposed to fall in love with the tortured and unloved (by family) Odd. This story was supposed to be easy.

So why am I still crying?

I had not asked to be born. Only to be loved.


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Review to come.

Will M.

Odd Thomas is a 20-year old fry cook, and he can see dead people. It's either a gift or a curse. In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe, and it's up to Odd to try and prevent it.

The thing with this novel is that the plot was terribly slow. Koontz served up a lot of character building, a lot being the first 1/3 of the novel. That is pretty normal, but the result should be satisfactory. While I am really liking Odd as a character, I just don't see him as a 20 year old kid. He seemed like someone who's 30+ years old. He seemed to have so much knowledge crammed in his 20 year old brain. It's just not normal. I'm 19 years old, and I don't think like he does. He was planning marriage as soon as possible, and that is really not normal. Stormy was also quite unrealistic. I don't see why she keeps up with Odd, to be honest. I didn't hate her as a character, but I didn't like her much, compared to other lover of the main character characters.

Like I said the plot was slow, and at the time wherein it improved, it was still lacking. This is shelved as horror, and 1018 people contributed to that happening. I don't see this as horror at all. Paranormal maybe, because of the ghosts, but even the possibility of the things that happened in the novel happening in real life is quite unlikely. I liked the whole I can talk to ghosts thing Koontz made, but it hasn't grown on me yet. This is the first novel though, and I'm expecting the next one to be a huge improvement.

Whenever I ask people to recommend another author who is quite similar to my favorite, Stephen King, the immediate answer would be Dean Koontz. He does write horror books, and a lot of paranormal ones too, but if I were to judge that comparison based on Odd Thomas, I would honestly say that I can't see the similarities. Koontz writes a lot of info dumps, and takes forever to make the reader like the character/s(for me). I keep hearing amazing things about his other novels though, so I might have to give those a try before concluding. The first novel of his that I've read was not the best, but I'm not giving up on the author, and the series.

3/5 stars. Mediocre plot and quite likeable but unrealistic characters. I'm hoping to have a better opinion and experience with the second novel.

Peter Topside

This is a very strange and quirky story. I can't say that I loved the writing style, but it was good enough to keep me invested. Odd Thomas is so hapless and unsure of himself, but follows his instincts, even when his logic tries to tell him otherwise. Also, coming from a traumatic upbringing, I found it really refreshing how Koontz used Odd's earlier years and unfit parents as the catalysts for his unique abilities with the undead. There are several times that I found myself thinking, "Just let this poor kid get back in the kitchen to do what he loves, love Stormy and leave him be," lol. The details were strong, but greatly overdone (Fungus Man's descriptions had me queasy!) at times. I found myself frequently getting sidetracked by some of the side stories of Pico Mundo and the other residents that were scattered throughout. I just don't think they were all pertinent and just extended the story unnecessarily. Beyond that, the book moved along with a tremendous amount of buildup to the climax, but I did feel that the conclusion fell a little flat. I understand that this is the first in a series, so I anticipated some cliffhangers, but just felt there could have been a little more here. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent read.

Ken

I’ve not read much Koontz but this seemed like a popular one, I’m even planning to watch the film afterwards.

I liked how the story was narrated through Odd, it was really easy to get a feel for the character.
Whilst working as a short order cook young Odd has the ability to see dead people, I instantly thought of Sixth Sense.

In truth this novel reminded me of a few other well known books, the most obvious being Stephen King’s The Dead Zone as Odd has a premonition that something bad is about to happen.
One of the ghosts that hangs around near Odd is a well known celebrity, I won’t spoil the surprise but he has also appeared in another supernatural book series.

Even though it felt like treading old ground, Odd is such a great character who I was happy to spend time with.
I definitely want to read more Koontz, I’d be happy to continue with this series.

Maciek

As a kid, the first thing I did when I was coming back from school was stop by at the library. I used to check out various mystery novels - like those with The Three Investigators, a saga that has remained a favorite and to this day I'm fond of it - and one day the librarian (God bless her) decided that I was mature enough (meaning I started growing whiskers) and recommended Stephen King.

Needless to say, I started to read one King book after the other in quick succesion, sometimes even two at the same time. I was addicted, much like a heroin addict that needs his fix, I checked out a new King book every day.

And then came the unavoidable sad day when there were no new books by King on the library shelf. Since my memories were still too vivid for a re-read, I decided to look for a new author who has released many interesting titles tha would interest a lad like me. I asked the everhelpful librarian, and she pointed me to a shelf directly below the one of the King.

It was labeled: "Dean R. Koontz".

I checked out my first book by the smiling bald guy with a moustache (can't remember what it was), took it home and read quickly. I felt that it was missing something, but still I was entertained enough to come back and check out another. And then another. I've read over a dozen or so of his titles, when new books by King came into library; I checked them out, but from that time on I switched between the two authors just for the fun of it. Koontz was my bubble gum; tasty, but the taste evaporated quickly and you had to take another if you wanted to enjoy it again.

I think I'll spare you the rest of my life story and get on with reviewing the book. I bought Odd Thomas the year it came out (or was it a year later? Can't remember). Every reviewer was raving about it which I found surprising - Koontz was always a low-key author, and never received much publicity despite being one of the highest earning American writers. He was the sort of guy who was always there but didn't stick his head out, always had a personal shelf at the library, always released a book each year that you could read, forget and then remember about him when he released a new one. So when Odd Thomas caught attention by many reviewers on various web sites I decided to check it out myself. I bough an used copy through the web, received it, sat in my favorite armchair and began to read.

Odd Thomas, proudly bearing the title of "a novel" is written from the perspective of a 20 year old Odd, a guy who can see dead people...and does something about it. The first-person narrative has been done by Koontz before, most notably in "Fear Nothing" and "Seize The Night" - the reader can't help but notice the similarities in style and form.

Since Odd Thomas is a character driven novel, maybe we should begin by saying something about them. Characterization was always Koontz's Achilles' heel, and unfortunately it shows in this book. Odd is the type of a literary 20 year old written by a 60-something year old who thinks he can write a cute,sympathetic and witty 20 year old and at the same time slip in some of his disdain for the modern times. Odd doesn't come out as cute and eccentric though; rather boring and preachy. A self-procclaimed carryover from the 50's, Odd lives in the new millenium and stays alive only by listening to Elvis (who also has a supporting role as a ghost) and is heavy on keeping his virginity. Did he forgot that the 50's brough the baby boomers? Was he ever in school? 20 year olds don't talk like this, don't think like this and most importantly don't sound like Dean Koontz.

Speaking of whom, everyone in this novel sounds like Dean Koontz or if he doesn't then he's the bad guy. Koontz simplifies the matter to the utmost - everyone either falls in love with Odd, or is concerned by fulfilling his own hedonistic pursuits. Odd's literary, obese friend Little Ozzie is essentially Koontz with opened Wikipedia, and shooting random facts and quotations. Not to mention that he STILL cannot make people talk like real people...only his impressions of them. When will he learn?

I've heard comparisons between Odd Thomas and M.Night Shyamalan's famous movie The Sixth Sense. They are without substance; The Sixth Sense is one of the most moving and memorable motion pictures I have ever seen. In Odd Thomas seeing dead people serves as Koontz's remedy of getting out from various plot holes; as does having a blind friend who can read a braille card Odd has just found, etc.

The writing style is largely intrusive, overtly verbose and tedious. Instead of using simple descriptions that worked so well in the past Koontz seems content with opening his thesauruses and conjuring up metaphors that completely break the flow of the story. Not that there's much of the story going on; it's constantly interrupted by Koontz's inclusion of various facts about the average number of people being born with six fingers, the biographies of Elvis and Sinatra and even the explanation of various commands shouted at the grille where Odd works (they really weren't that hard to figure out). That's Dean's biggest problems - he not only shows but also tells, tells and tells to be sure you got his point.

The biggest flaw of the book is the narration method. At the beginning, Koontz states EXPLICITLY that Odd will be an unreliable narrator, and even says what exactly he will do to make his narration unreliable. He also spoils the classic Christie novel and reveals the murdered, in case you didn't get his point. This is stupid beyond redemption. The sole point of employing an unreliable narrator in fiction is not letting the audience know that there is one. Well, Koontz seems to not notice this after over four decades of writing 15 hours a day, and the "big surprise" at the end comes as a yawn.

The identity of the evildoers is very disappointing, and the ending confrontation is solved way too fast and way too easy.

Overall, the experience is disappointing. There is an interesing story hidden in Odd Thomas - the one you used to watch as a kid, in shows like "Goosebumps" - but Odd Thomas is marketed at an adult audience, and fails as adult fiction because of Koontz's ineptitude at drawing realistic, likeable characters and writing dialogue (he's truly horrible at it), his tedious writing style and his mistrust of the audience - he truly does spell out every single thing in detail. As a children book it fails too, because of Koontz's inclusion of gruesome details of various crimes, which were supposed to be shocking and mature but turn out to be boring instead. If he only cut up the metaphors, created stronger characters who behave and talk like normal people Odd Thomas might have been an enjoyable bus book. It just needs too much suspension of disbelief to be read. It's still better than all the sequels though, which make me think: When will Koontz stop cashing in on this fluke and start writing like he did in the 80's? I don't like the work of this new guy with a clean shaven sagging face and a mop of fake hair.

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