Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review: "Odd Thomas" by Dean Koontz

I'd been meaning to read Odd Thomas for ages. But as you can imagine, my to-be-read pile is overflowing. So last week, when a new friend suggested that I read it sooner rather than later, I picked up my new Nook Color (Yes, that's right. I've read TWO eBooks so far!) and finally just bought the damn thing.

And man, am I glad I did...

Dean Koontz's fantastical and mysterious novel about a young man who can see dead people astounded me. The story kept me on the edge of my seat, yearning for more with every sentence to the point where I sometimes found myself skipping ahead--my eyes and my brain just couldn't move fast enough. Every time I caught myself though, I went back and read it again--I didn't want to miss a morsel.

Now, before you get caught up on that whole "I see dead people" thing, let me clarify: the character of Odd Thomas doesn't see these spirits a la "The Sixth Sense"--it's more he sees them and helps them move on, sometimes by solving their unfinished business for them. He's been given what some people may consider a gift, what others may consider a curse, and he's resolved himself to be selfless, to put others first, even when they're gone from the mortal realm. He's tortured and tragic and hilarious and wise. Honestly, he was not the character I was expecting. But he spoke to something deep inside me, bringing tears to my eyes even while making me snort in laughter on the subway.

I haven't so whole-heartedly appreciated a character in who knows how long. I even quoted him this week to a friend and bookmarked some lines to share with you all here. It's amazing how powerful and relatable Koontz was able to make his main character in such a commercial genre:
"Recognizing the structure of your psychology doesn't mean that you can easily rebuild it. The Chamber of Unreasonable Guilt is part of my mental architecture, and I doubt that I will ever be able to renovate that particular room in this strange castle that is me."

"Life [...] is not about how fast you run or even with what degree of grace. It's about perseverance, about staying on your feet and slogging forward no matter what."
"We are not strangers to ourselves; we only try to be."

Profound for a twenty-year-old miracle man, huh?

But don't worry, the whole book isn't teeming with such wise phrasings. However, it is full of intensity, adrenaline, and heart.

The Last Word: Brilliant plotting and pacing, smooth and consistent voice, and characters you fall in love with, Koontz hit every nail on the head with this one.

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