If any of you are familiar with Dean Koontz books, you may have come across the Odd Thomas series. Not about a Thomas who is odd, but the series' main character is called Odd Thomas - a spelling mistake his parents never bothered to correct. If you haven't read any of the "Odd" series, I'll try to explain some key points whilst reviewing "Odd is on our side" below.
Odd can see dead people. They often try to tell him things, but that's difficult for Odd to interpret as they can't talk - being dead kind of hampers that! In "Odd is on our side", Elvis appears to Odd just before Halloween in Pico Mundo (the home town which Odd rarely leaves) and tries togive Odd a message about an impending disaster. Odd has to work this out and fast, as he knows lives could be at stake due to him also being able to see "bodachs" - wraith like spirits which always appear and gather before a terrible event where innocent lives could be lost.
As well as Elvis and the bodachs, Odd is visited by the ghost of a small child who, using love heart type sweets, shows Odd the message "Save Me".
Some detective work by Odd and his girlfriend Stormy LLewlyn leads him to uncover a shady part of Pico Mundo's past involving Halloween and some poisoned sweets given out to young trick or treaters some 20 years ago. How is this event from the past linked to the bad event Odd has been warned will happen this Halloween, and just what is Elvis trying to tell Odd exactly?
This book is a graphic novel, or a "grown ups' comic" in other words. Cover to cover, the book is 186 pages long and this includes an excerpt from one of the other Odd books (chapter one of Forever Odd) and several pages of notes and sketches from the artist, Queenie Chan. The actual graphic novel itself only took about half an hour to read.
Straight away I will say that this definately one for the fans of the Odd series - if you haven't read any of the Odd books then this offering will probably seem as strange as finding out your pensioner grandparents have just booked tickets to see Slipknot in concert. There's too much of a back-story concerning Odd and his "gift" for this book to make much sense to those not familiar with Odd and his (odder) ways.
However, if yo have read the Odd books and, like me, have become interested in Odd and hungry for more then I can recommend the £7.99 RRP as being worth it. I would even go so far as to say it is a "must have" for fans of the Odd series as it can be fascinating to see how somebody else (Queenie Chan) has portrayed Odd and the other characters from Pico Mundo like Stormy and his boss at the diner in picture form.
The story of "Odd is on our side" was in keeping with the tone of the rest of the Odd books - a good mix of humour and freaky, sinister horror. As much as I like the best of Koontz's work, I have to be honest and say that he has written his fair share of stinkers. I wouldn't class any of the Odd books as being a stinker though and although this particular graphic novel from the Odd series is quite short, it is still a cracking read. It might be more satisfying to consider it as a long comic-book story to be smashed out in under an hour as opposed to a large thick novel to be enjoyed over the course of a few nights in bed.
It is though, in my opinion, a very good short story and hasn't lost the essence of Odd by being shrunk and drawn in cartoon style pictures with speech bubble captions that the longer Odd books have - all the ingredients of a good Odd story are still there. Just think fun sized portion as opposed to a three course meal.
Almost as if Mr Koontz has realised that some may bemoan the book's low number of pages, the extra bits at the end do help to pad it out slightly. I found the "Artist's Sketchbook" quite interesting to read as Queenie Chan explains why and how she made certain characters look the way they do. However, the chapter from Forever Odd isn't of much use or interest if you have already read that particular book.
Overall, I could only recommend this particular book to either Koontz fans who enjoy the Odd Thomas series, or Queenie Chan fans. For those not familiar with Odd Thomas it would just be too strange and puzzling, although I do recommend you start reading the Odd series and look out for a copy of "Odd Thomas". I enjoyed "Odd is on our side" a lot, and think it deserves a full score of five stars. Thanks for reading.
Amazon price - £5.59 paperback or £4.99 for the Kindle version