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Back in 2004, Dean Koontz launched his latest creation on an unsuspecting world: Odd Thomas. Odd was, well, a little odd and because of this, readers loved him. As ever in the world of books and films, a popular character means a sequel... which is a very roundabout way of introducing Forever Odd, the sequel to Odd Thomas.
The actual book wasn't that original. The central device (Odd sees dead people and has other supernatural powers which he uses to avoid a major catastrophe) has been used lots of times before, and normally, this lack of originality would have led to the book sinking without trace.
That this wasn't the case was down to the charismatic nature of Odd and the other inhabitants of his home town of Pico Mundo, together with the quirky, off-beat humour throughout the book. Odd and his friends had a tremendous line in banter that came across as both genuine and funny.
Sadly, Forever Odd doesn't live up to expectations for one very simple reason: Odd spends far too much time on his own. The smart, funny banter which characterised the earlier book has mostly gone. There's a little bit of it at the start, and a smidgeon more partway through (when Odd bandies witty repartee with the bad guys). Other than that, this is very much a solo outing and he has no-one to banter with. This is a serious mistake, because it quickly becomes clear that the appeal of Odd comes not from his adventures, but from his interactions with others.
This curious decision to move him away from one of the key strengths of the first book only serves to reveal how weak the plot is. It's a rather dull tale of an underground pursuit and the ensuing battle with a standard issue Bad Person. Although it's always mildly interesting, it never grabs your attention in the same way the first book did. With a few minor alterations, you could easily substitute Odd for pretty much any other bog standard character and scarcely notice any difference. The unique aspect that gave the first book its appeal has gone missing in action.
If the main plot is disappointing, the ending is a tremendous let-down, with Koontz relying on a pathetic plot device to ensure Odd's survival for book number 3. One minute Odd is in severe peril, almost certain to drown underground... the next minute he's safe on dry land with no real explanation as to how he escaped. You get the distinct impression that Koontz had backed himself into a corner and didn't actually know how to extricate Odd from his predicament, so decided to cheat. It's not quite as bad as "then he woke up and found it had all been a dream", but it comes perilously close. Koontz is a far better writer than this; he doesn't need to rely on lazy narrative tricks and by doing so, he just leaves the reader feeling cheated.
I'm probably giving the impression that Forever Odd is a complete washout, which isn't true. However, it's disappointing that it never comes close to capturing the quirky, original tone of the first one. As a bog standard novel, Forever Odd is perfectly acceptable. It's a mildly fun piece of escapism, featuring an absurd but mostly enjoyable story, a great hero and a deliciously unhinged villain. Indeed, had Forever Odd been the first book to feature the character, it's likely that I would have been a little more positive. Sadly, because it's the sequel to a far better book, it suffers even worse by comparison.
It's not a complete disaster. Koontz is always a very amiable story-teller, managing that difficult mix between humour and atmosphere. As an author, he's always had the ability to appeal to those who don't like traditional horror, because his approach is quite tongue in cheek. He's certainly more than capable of dreaming up monsters (both human and real) and he uses this to good effect in Forever Odd. He creates an atmosphere which is mildly unsettling without ever being scary and tells a relatively entertaining story which will appeal to a wide-ranging audience.
You just can't shake the nagging feeling that something is missing: and that something is the amusing interaction with other people. Odd is a very specific character that needs to exist in a very specific world surrounded by very specific people. The minute he's removed from that environment, the book loses its key strength and simple becomes another generic adventure tale.
© Copyright SWSt 2012
Odd Thomas is back in the second book in this series and this time he faces an adversary that proves to be much harder, physically and mentally than any he has faced before.
His best friend, Danny, who is crippled with a brittle bone disease, has been kidnapped and his step-father brutally murdered in the process. Dr Jessup, Danny's step-father, visits Odd Thomas in the night as a spirit and leads him to the house so he can find his body and the realisation that Danny has been kidnapped.
Odd true to form, cannot let this go and using his "physic magnetism" ends up tracking Danny down to an abandoned hotel room. He is tied to a chair, rigged to a bomb. His captor? Datura, a completely insane, crazy woman who wants to "see" a ghost and believes Odd Thomas can conjure them up for her pleasure. Kidnapping Danny was the only way to get Odd here.
All Odd has to do now is rescue Danny without the bomb going off, kill Datura and her two evil henchmen and get his friend out of the abandoned hotel with both of their lives still intact. Easy?
I was pleased I had aquired all four of the Odd Thomas books before I started to read, as once I had finished the first book I wanted to start this one straight away. Forever Odd was just as exciting in a completely different way, with Odd knowing who his adversary was pretty early in, compared to the first book where he was unsure what and who would cause the problems for him.
An explanation of Odd Thomas is needed I think - he is a regular young man with one exception. He sees dead people wandering around Pico Mundo, the small desert town where he lives, and each is clinging to this life for a reason. As they can't talk, Odd finds it difficult to help them but occasionally, like in the case of Dr Jessup, he can easily figure it out simply by following them and the truth is revealed in all its grisly nature.
This second book was excellent as much as the first, and I particularly liked Datura the evil kidnapping killer in this story. She is completely off her rocker and Koontz gets that state of mind over really well. She comes across as bonkers but with a dangerous edge and a "don't care about anything else" attitude which makes her an excellent character to use.
Odd is again endearing, sweet, kind and determined to rescue his lifelong friend and you really feel for him in some parts of the book, especially at the beginning.
This book had a different edge to it than the first which gave it a fresh feel, something that can be difficult with a series, but we also got enough feedback from the first book to know how things panned out for him. Also for a first time reader who had not read the first book, it was possible to get his history without overloading repeats for the continuation of others.
Overall I really enjoyed this second book, following Odd Thomas as he tried to sort out this latest crazy chapter of his life. Highly recommended although I would definitely read Odd Thomas first as it will heighten the pleasure of this one.
Ok so after the last book I HAD to read this one I had never picked up a Dean Koontz book before and the ending to the first in this series (Odd Thomas) had effected me in a way no other book had done before.
I have to say I was disappointed. It was a good book and enjoyable but compared to the first I was expecting more. It was a bit of a nothing story really, felt like it was written for the sake of it lacked the fast pace and the twists like the first and I didn't feel the sense of urgency to get to the next page!
Quick update for those that have not read the first: Odd Thomas can see the dead, he has a companion in the form of the spirit of Elvis and he can unfortunatley see creatures he calls Bodachs who feed off misery and death and gather around people or places where something bad is about to go down.
Odd is getting over the event in his home town that ended the last book when he gets dragged into solving the kidnapping of (Danny) his apparent best friend (who I recall was some what absent in the first - might need to read it again to check!) by the spirit of Danny's stepfather (who was thought up until that point was alive and kicking!) and he finds his extraordinary skills have gained some unwanted attention..
Having read the immensely enjoyable Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz you simply have to read the rest of the series, next up is Forever Odd. I have been a little surprised by the mixed reviews this book has received, because I found it very enjoyable. It is written in Koontz's traditional style, not too taxing, flowing and vivid.
Here we return to Pico Mundo with Odd utilising his famous powers to rescue his friend from a ruined Casino on the outskitrs of town. Towards the end of the book, when the action really speeds up, I was completly unable to put the book down, it is a complete page turner.
It is true that perhaps it is somewhat predictable, it is not especially controversial and certainly not challenging, but it is still a glorious read. Its simplicity is its power. Odd is very likeable, and he continues to narrate the book in his usual style. You would be hard pushed to find a book which makes you feel better after reading it. I loved this book and can not wait to get on with reading Brother Odd - reasons for the title are explained at the end of Forever Odd!
After reading the brilliant Odd Thomas, I had to buy this when it came out. I was so excited about reading it but I felt really disappointed with this second of the series. I thought it was good to begin with with Odd having to find his friend and the story leading him to an old run down casino on the edge of Pico Mundo. I was looking forward to what was going to happen when he arrived at his destination but the story didn't really go anywhere at all. In the end Odd rescued his friend and that was all really. I thought that Dean Koontz could have done a lot better than this and he really let Odd down. I am just reading the third book, Brother Odd and so far it is back on track. There is also a fourth called Odd Hours which I will look forward to reading but I really felt that this book was a bit out of character for Dean and hopefully will be back to his best with the next two, fingers crossed. It hasn't put me off as I have faith in Dean!
FOREVER ODD takes Koontz's best-loved character, from his self-titled debut novel, and gives him a second outing set in the sleepy town of Pico Mundo. It is unusual for Koontz to write a sequel as normally his collected works stand alone but it is not without precedent; previously Koontz has written two back-to-back novels about another character named Jonathan Snow who suffers a rare skin condition that means he can only come out at night.
Odd has his own peculiarity as fans of Koontz will recall; Odd Thomas sees dead people- namely those spirits who linger with something left unresolved, normally their untimely death at the hands of another. Following the events of the last novel in which Odd prevented a full-scale massacre at a local shopping mall at great personal expense to himself, Odd has taken a hiatus from his job as a fry-cook and contemplates another career (perhaps one as a tire salesman?) where he will have no need to think and brood over past events. Then his nightly sleep is broken by the arrival of the newly deceased spirit of Dr.Jessup, a local doctor and the step-father of Odd's best friend, Danny who suffers from brittle bones.
Sensing something is wrong, Odd rushes to Danny's house only to find Danny has been kidnapped and the doctor brutally killed. After being tasered by one of the bad guys responsible, Odd sets off in pursuit using his pyschic magnetism, a skill that draws him to people he wishes to find through the power of thought and focus, but it is a trail that will take him through the storm tunnels of Pico Mundo and beyond to a not-so deserted, derelict casino and someone with a very unhealthy interest in Odd's special talents.
As a sequel, FOREVER is something of a disappointment and you get a real sense that this could easily have been a stand-alone novel with just a few alterations to the plot. In fact there is a feeling that this could've been an old story that Koontz had lying around, not sure what to do with it, not good enough to be released on it's own merits until Koontz adapted it for the character of Odd Thomas with the idea of starting a money-spinning franchise. Certainly it is only the first of five other planned Odd sequels but seeing as we are still waiting for the long-promised third Jonathan Snow book (a series that was always intended to be a trilogy by the author's own admission), it will be interesting to see if we ever get to see the sixth book!!!
So far the series has reached book number 4 with ODD HOURS just being released in hardback.
As a stand-alone novel, this wouldn't have been bad- not his best by a longshot but certainly no turkey but, after the high standards set by the previous book, it was always going to be difficult to write a sequel that could match the powerful, emotional impact of the original ODD THOMAS. This feels like a very different novel, as maybe it should- nobody wants to read a rehash of what they got before- but the whole story is just a little too weak to carry a character as strong and with as much potential as Odd!! There seems to be an awful lot of preamble, an almighty build-up and then, when the climax comes, it is like the anticipation of a storm that turns out to be a few drips and drops before the sun re-emerges. Very little for an awful lot of work!!!
It is a shame because I, like the majority of other Koontz fans no doubt, were expecting so much more when they learnt there was going to be a sequel to their favourite ever Koontz novel. Unfortunately, whilst this is an okay read, it is nowhere near as moving or emotional as it's predecessor and is strictly for real, proper, hard-core Koontz fans only. If you can take him or leave him as an author then you would be best passing this one by.