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Having not known what to expect when I set out to read them, I really enjoyed the first two Odd Thomas books from author Dean Koontz. The mixture of quirky, humorous observations and supernatural plots that contained a genuine sense of menace and danger quickly established Odd as one of Koontz's best creations. For fans of the series, Brother Odd contains both good news and bad news.
The plot is a bit of risk (and not an entirely successful one). Following the tragic events of the previous novel, Odd Thomas has taken himself off to a monastery to try and discover some inner peace and escape from the ghosts of the dead people who follow him around. Of course, being Odd, danger appears wherever he is. He becomes convinced that a terrible tragedy is going to happen at the monastery which will claim the lives of many of the resident monks and nuns, as well as the children in their care.
The good news is that the book is still as readable as ever. Odd Thomas makes for a very engaging narrator. His slightly skewed, sideways take on the world and some of his humorous observations make Brother Odd a lot of fun to read. Odd (via Koontz) has a very engaging style. The central character is deeply likeable and his sometimes bizarre way of expressing things will often have you laughing out loud (a strength of the previous two books). Koontz's obsession with TV, books and films also leads to some amusing comparisons, asides or observations on human life which are well expressed.
Koontz is also adept at bringing the other oddball characters to life. Each of the monks and nuns feels like a separate personality and it's easy to distinguish between them all (something which becomes crucial as the plot progresses). Thanks to these interesting, odd, engaging characters, Brother Odd is as much fun to read as the other books in the series, and I found myself ripping through it at a rare old pace, having plenty of fun along the way.
The bad news is that it is nowhere near as enjoyable as the two previous Odd Thomas books. With this one, Koontz has made the age-old mistake of taking Thomas outside of his usual environment By relocating Odd to a monastery, he has taken him away from the support cast of characters we have grown familiar with (and who themselves added a lot of fun and colour to the tales). This is a loss the reader feels, partly because you have to readjust your expectations and get used to a new set of characters, mostly because the new characters are not as interesting as the ones they are replacing.
The characters in previous Odd books have been larger than life but realistic enough; the characters in Brother Odd feel a lot more forced. They often feel like they have been created because the plot needs them to exist, rather than flowing naturally from the narrative itself. The oddball characters (an ex-enforcer turned monk, the multi-billionaire physicist who gave away his fortune to enter holy orders) do fit quite well in Odd's world, but not as well or as naturally as the inhabitants of Pico Mundo (Odd's previous residence).
The plot is also slightly disappointing. All the Odd novels have contained a major element of the supernatural (it is, after all, about a central character who can seen both dead people and harbingers of doom). In Brother Odd, though, that focus has shifted somewhat. The book moves away from human beings being the agents of doom and disaster and places a greater reliance on apparent monsters. This changes the emphasis of the book, moving it more towards traditional horror than the gentle supernatural tale that characterised previous Odd books.
The plot is also rather more predictable. If I'm honest, I tend not to think too much about where books are heading when I read them - I like to be surprised by the author. In this case, it was pretty obvious from a fairly early stage what was going on. There are a couple of mild attempts at mis-direction, but nothing that is going to fool most readers; and I found myself feeling that Brother Odd is a rather more predictable (and hence slightly less interesting) book than previous volumes.
Koontz also uses the opportunity for some heavy-handed moralising and Odd is often on hand to hold forth on all sorts of topics. This will seem very out of character for readers of Odd's previous books and doesn't really sit well with either the tone of the series or the nature of this plot. There are some particularly acerbic observations reserved for religious topics and these are both unnecessary and get in the way of the plot.
Some people have suggested that, at over 400 pages long, Brother Odd is too drawn-out and stretched. Personally, I didn't find this to be an issue. I felt the book progressed at a good pace, with sufficient focus on the main plot, whilst giving Koontz time to make some humorous asides. Whilst I certainly wouldn't have wanted Brother Odd to be any longer, I mostly enjoyed reading it and never found myself wishing the author would get on with it.
At the end of the day, however, there is no doubt that Brother Odd is the weakest of the Odd Thomas series to date. Removing Odd from his usual setting doesn't really work and the plot is not as interesting or engaging as the previous efforts. It's still worth reading for fans of the series, but there has been a definite dip in quality.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
There are times in your life that you do not take your own advice. You said that you would never go skiing, but you did and now your leg is broken. You said that next time you went out you would not get tipsy and ask out your ex again, you did and once more you are going to have to slink out of the relationship. Mistakes that could have been avoided if only you had listened to the voice in your head and this was not a small voice, but a big booming one saying No! Well my voice told me to stop reading novels by Dean Koontz. Having read about 6 or 7 of them I was becoming angry every time I got about 50 pages in - they are all the same and are far too long! I methodically went through my 'to be read' bookcase and removed all novels by the author.... except for the Odd Thomas novels. The first in the series was the only Koontz book that was actually good, surely even someone as poorly disciplined as Koontz could not destroy such a strong character?
Odd Thomas is odd by name and odd by nature. He has the unique ability to see supernatural beings. Mostly this comes in the form of ghosts who he aids to the other side. However, he also sees sinister creatures called bodachs that appear before major disasters giving him a short time to perhaps avert catastrophe. Odd is currently residing in a Monastery to get away from the ills of the outside world; however, when he starts to see the creatures of death he realises not all is safe. Odd is about to come up against something far more dangerous than man or ghosts; a supernatural creature that everyone can see and which has the ability to rip a person apart.
Dear me, Koontz has managed to turn the Odd series into the bland fiction that dominates his output. The initial story of 'Odd Thomas' stood head and shoulders above the rest of the author's work. Odd is a great character that has a sense of humour that makes him really appealing. The books are narrated through his point of view and therefore this makes them funny. He is also an interesting character because he treats the undead in a matter of fact way as he has had to deal with them all his life. The books also work because they deal with ghosts and creatures called bodachs who pre-empt catastrophe. This simple dynamic lead to one of the best ghost stories I have ever read and a twist that I did not see coming.
Why then does Koontz decide to mess with a system that works? I have no problem with evolving a series to keep it fresh, but what Koontz does is devolve the book into the form of all his other works. The ghosts are still present as are the bodachs and Odd's great personality. What differs is the introduction of monsters. The series has gone from being a ghost story into a monster of the week. It should not be hard to have a supernatural monster in a book that contains ghosts, but somehow Koontz does not pull it off. The ghosts and bodachs are established and work. The monsters just seem hokey and out of place. I have no interest whatsoever with a series of chase sequences from one building to another. This does not allow us to get the best of Odd as he is always running for his life.
Once more it seems that Koontz has forgone the use of an editor. This time the book clocks it at an acceptable page number, but the flow is all wrong. For the first part we get a humorous insight into Odd's life in a monetary, but it all falls apart when the monsters arrive. Why on Earth did Koontz think that this extra element was needed? To make matters worse the book tries to teach religious meaning between the various fight scenes. Koontz is an author who is hamstrung by his own success. Required to churn out at least one novel a year that appeases the fans he has written the same book for over a decade. With success comes fear and apparently no one at his publishers has the courage to confront his overly complex prose and lack of imagination. 'Odd Thomas' was a shining beacon of hope that reminded me of the authors work from the 70s - compact, fun and interesting. However, 'Brother Odd' showed me that this was an anomaly and that Koontz is no longer an author of relevance.
Author: Dean Koontz
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Well after being shocked at the ending in (Odd Thomas) and then disappointed by (Forever Odd) I didn't know what to expect with this one and I'm pleased to say it was Dean Koontz back on form!
Brilliant story line, excellent characters and kept me guessing!
The story of Odd Thomas continues as he leaves his home town and seeks refuge in an isolated abbey that also provides a home for children with special needs (sounds like a good setting for a horror already!), for those of you that haven't read the first two stories (you don't need to but I'm glad I did), Odd can see the dead, he has the spirit of Elvis who is a companion and a constant puzzle as to why he visits Odd and hasn't passed over, normally spirits that want justice only appear to Odd (they can never speak to him) and he can also see Bodachs, creatures that gather around people or places unwittingly facing imminent death and horror.
It all begins well for Odd he settles in, there are a few ghosts at the abbey but none that disturb him in anyway, he finds friendship in the form of a scientist who has also shunned the world for the haven of the abbey. However things take a turn for the worst when the bodachs start appearing an lurking around the building that houses the children, one monk goes missing and another commits suicide.
It had a slow start but stick with it, it soon speeds up and you are soon caught up in the investigation
After battling demons in his home town of Pico Mundo Odd Thomas has gone to stay at a Catholic Monastery.
For those of you that do not know Odd Thomas, he is a special young man who sees the lingering dead. He often helps them on their way to the afterlife and they also tell him things about crimes etc.
This is the third book in the Odd Thomas series after Odd Thomas and Forever Odd.
This book tells the story of Odd at the Monastery when one day he sees a bodach (Slivery shadowy things that tell of violence that is to come. The more there are the more the violence). As he investigates he comes across more and they are hanging around the children in the school part of the Monastery. Some of the monks and nuns know of his special abilities so help him as he works out what is going to happen.
There are quite scary moments in this as he meets with Death and strange boney constructions that are menacing and they kill.
This is better than the second installment of the series but thought that it was a bit drawn out then had a very quick ending which I was disappointed about as I couldnt wait to find out what was going to happen.
It is a good book which you will enjoy as Odd is a very odd character and I like that Elvis is with him on his encounters which is quite amusing. Definitely worth a read.
Dean Koontz - Brother Odd
After batting the demons in sleepy desert town Pico Mundo in the previous two books, "Odd Thomas" and "Forever Odd," Odd seeks refuge and recluse in a Catholic Abbey in this, the third book in the series.
For those few who are not aware, Odd sees the lingering dead and uses his powers to defeat the numerous villains which enter his life in Pico Mundo. The latest book is set a number of months after the conclusion of Forever Odd when Odd sees the mysterious followers of doom which he calls 'bodachs' lingering around the Abbey. Odd sets about preparing the Abbey to face the forthcoming tragedy. That's the plot sorted now on to the book.
The book is an enjoyable enough read...after you get past page 200. The first half of the book is a complete non-event, but after making you way through the dull-ness it suddenly becomes a page turner while we wonder how the evil doer will be defeated.
As well as being dull, Koontz once again indulges in the old clichés which seem to form the bulk of his work recently: there is the angelic abused girl, the physically deformed boy, the child left for dead, the neglectful father etc etc heard it all before. Koontz seems to be running out of new ideas for victims quickly and it is making me increasing concerned that Koontz is now less a story-letter more a crusader.
That aside I found many that of the nuns and monks were reasonably well developed which allowed for a rich and characterful story. Koontz does well to portray the sense of community at the abbey. There is some excellent discourse between Odd and the mysterious Russian which give the book an entertaining factor and good humour we have now came to expect.
I was most disappointed by the ending of the book. Although there was an exciting and enjoyable build up, the final episode was predictable and hugely anticlimatic.
Of course, there is at least one more book in the series which I haven't read yet, my overwhelming feeling was that, although I've loved reading Odd, Koontz has now stretched the concept to its maximum.
The third novel in Koontz's ever popular ODD THOMAS series sees Odd retiring to a remote monastry in search of peace and seclusion following the events of the previous two novels. Odd, you will remember, is visited by the lingering spirits of the dead who seek retribution and justice for their deaths and though they cannot speak for reasons we can only speculate, still they seem to manage to make their desires known. Odd's most recent adventures have come at great personal cost and have put the lives of those closet to him at jeopardy so, by removing himself from his sleepy home in Pico Mundo, Odd hopes to remove himself fropm any situation that might endanger either him or those around him.
Unfortunately, Odd doesn't just see the restless dead. Odd can also see Bodachs; grey, slinking shades that seem to manifest in great numbers whenever tragedy and a large number of deaths are eminent. Within a month of arriving at the monastry, that also houses a school for physically and mentally challenged children, Odd begins to see Bodachs as they start to patrol the grounds and gather around the children in their dormitories. Sensing that he has only twenty four hours to act before some form of disaster strikes, Odd finds himself reluctantly facing his most bizarre enemy yet....but how is everything related to the reclusive, billionaire, eccentric, world-renowned physicist whose money funds the monastry and who now experiments in a lab beneath the grounds and can Odd solve the mystery before anyone has to die?
BROTHER ODD is the first, and in my opinion, the only sequel to fully live up to the potential of the original novel on which the rest of the series is based. This third book is every bit of a tense, emotional ride as the first novel with plenty of action and a real seige mentality that keeps you gripped until the end. Though the basic premise behind the novel is far from an original one ( as Odd and his fellow monks find themselves cut off from civilisation by a blizzard that removes all communication with the outside world, they are forced to face off against an unimaginable assailant) that has been used hundreds of times before in films such as John Carpenter's THE THING or PRINCE OF DARKNESS and novels such as Agatha Christie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS or Michael Slades CUTTHROAT, it really does work within the parameters of the story. As things progress, the novel becomes about not just managing to survive against insurmountable odds but also about discovering exactly what Odd and the monks are actually dealing with. This sense of mystery is what made ODD THOMAS so appealing as the reader pieces the puzzle together along with our reluctant hero and what was missing from both the last book and the next novel to come in the series, ODD HOURS.
Somehow when everything is apparent as to what is going on and very little is left to the imagination, these novels seem to descend into the territory of every other psychic detective novel of which there are an abundance. What makes the Odd Thomas books so enchanting is when Odd doesn't have all the answers and doesn't know exactly what he's dealing with and so has to improvise as he's going along. When these books are good, they seem to be very, very good but unfortunately when they are bad, they seem to slip into mediocrity. Luckily this is not one of the latter and almost makes up for the damage done to the series by both FOREVER ODD and ODD HOURS. I cannot stress highly enough how much I enjoyed this book every bit as much as the original ODD THOMAS, and is defenitely one of the best thrillers Koontz has written with or without the presence of Odd. You don't have to have read the previous novels in order to enjoy it and it works just as well as a stand-alone. It also leaves you wanting for more which is more than can be said for the other two sequels and is always a sign of a job well done. Thankfully, these books seem to be following a pattern- one amazing novel followed by one not-so-great followed by another amazing novel then one not-so-great again- which means that hopefully whatever comes next after ODD HOURS, book 4 in the series, should be just as good as this, but we will just have to see. For now I leave you with the knowledge that this is the only other ODD THOMAS novel worth reading and that, from me at least, it gets the highest glowing reccommendation I could ever hope to pass on.