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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz

Originally published in 2003

Coke vs. Pepsi. Kleenex vs. Puffs. McDonald's vs. Burger King.

Stephen King vs. Dean Koontz. 

There is a "name brand" that defines almost every field. Let's face it, in the literary world, Stephen King is the master of the horror field. Dean Koontz is clearly the second place guy, but he is second place. I have followed that pattern in my own reading. I have easily read two dozen Stephen King books and perhaps ten Dean Koontz books. Nothing wrong with Dean Koontz, just like there's nothing wrong with Pepsi, Puffs or Burger King.

I was aware of the Odd Thomas series - they're in all of the book stores and the name certainly gets your attention. But, I never was tempted to pick the first one up and get started until last week.

Odd Thomas is a twenty year old resident of Pico Mundo, a suburban town in the Southern California desert. Odd (yes, that's his real name) certainly lives up to his name. He is a gentle soul that has a few very, very close friends of all ages. He works as a fry cook, aspires to sell tires and lives for his girlfriend who works at the ice cream stand in the mall. Oh, he also talks to Elvis Presley's ghost on a regular basis.

You see, Odd Thomas sees spirits. He sees ghosts that refuse to move onto to whatever comes after this life. He sees evil spirits. He can find people with a skill he calls "psychic magnetism". He can speak with the ghosts but he can't hear them - it would be crazy to think that you can hear ghosts.

Odd is a gentle soul and takes great care to never use his powers for gain. He was raised by selfish adults but, luckily, he learned from them that the world needs more people that give. Only a few people really understand what he can do and those people watch out for him and worry over him because Odd's unique set of skills often lead him to very dangerous places...

Clearly, with this first book Dean Koontz was building a world for Odd Thomas to inhabit. There is plenty of room for stories about Odd's family, his relationship with the local author, with the police chief that he thinks of as a father figure and even Elvis Presley.

Will I go on and explore Odd's world even more? I am not sure. Odd is likable and sympathetic, especially with the end that surprised me. Who knows, maybe it's time to do a little Dean Koontz binge reading because sometimes the second banana can come up with something unique and clever and steal some thunder from the "name brand" and make them worth another look.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Odd Thomas.

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