Sunday, January 29, 2006

Oddly Enough

I recently finished reading Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas and Forever Odd. I read them pretty much back-to-back, as I got them both as a Christmas gift, and had a very different reaction to each.

Odd Thomas was a treat, a book I couldn’t wait to crack open when the Christmas-morning chaos was over. Sucked me right in, intrigued me, made me laugh and made me think. I spent a wonderful afternoon on the couch, fireplace burning, reading about Koontz’s beautifully drawn main character, Oddie, his friends (Elvis as a depressed spirit was a bit much, but Koontz made me believe it), his wonderful girlfriend, Stormy, and a storyline that seemed truly unique. I read far into the evening, dying to know what happened next, and finished it the next morning, sorry to see it end.

Forever Odd was a very different book, which is a shame, because Koontz had a good thing going. Same great character in Odd, but the world Koontz created for him had changed. Everything I loved about the first novel, Oddie’s friends, his relationships, his interactions with the spirits, were virtually gone. Small mentions here and there, quickly skipped in favor of looonnng expositions describing a huge underwater flood control system in the middle of the desert or the infrastructure of an abandoned casino. Oddie’s tale had morphed from the story of a small-town boy with the curious ability to see the dead to some sort of espionage-spy-thriller story gone bad. The female antagonist had potential, but an evil femme fatale who gets eaten by a cougar seemed more like an afterthought than a plot device.

Don’t get me wrong… I’ll read more Koontz in the future. He’s prolific and talented, and even though I haven’t liked all his books, I’m always willing to take a chance on his new ones. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, if he was dying to write an action novel but got locked into a two book contract. Forever Odd may have satisfied his artistic urge, but it left at least one reader unsatisfied.

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