“. . . if there’s anything autobiographical about Odd Thomas, it would be his intuitive understanding that life is amusing at even its darkest moments. With tragedy, there lie kernels of humor. No matter what’s happening to you, there is light around the corner. I’m not a Pollyanna, but I do have that kind of optimism, and I always have, and Odd Thomas shares that with me. . .” − Dean Koontz – biography.com
When Dean Koontz first introduced me to that loveable fry cook from Pico Mondo by the unlikely name of Odd Thomas in 2003, I knew this was a character and a story I would stick with however long the author took to complete it. Now in 2015 Oddie, as known to his tragically departed Stormy Llewellyn, returns to the place it all started, a mechanical carnival gyspy and her card of promise that Odd and Stormy were truly meant for each other.
Rather than seek to explain the plot, that’s why you read the book, I can better serve you as a potential reader to explore some of the characters and themes of the entire Odd Thomas story.
The Likeable Hero
Pop culture is dominated by lead characters who possess powers we all would love to have but personalities no one would care to be around in the real word. Who wouldn’t want a Dr. House when every other doctor writes them off as hopeless? At the same time, odds are we would rather have Dr. Wilson over to meet the family.
Odd Thomas breaks that trend by giving us an unlikely hero whose enduring quality is that he is likable. But not in some saccharin coated, nauseous way that causes you to roll your eyes when he enters the room. What makes Odd one of the most enduring characters in modern fiction is that he does reluctantly heroic things without a false modesty that really means “look at me.”
Over the course of this series, Odd has thwarted satanic cults, faced down packs of possessed coyotes, learned to ignore the fearsome bodachs, and averted a nuclear disaster. All the while Odd has never lost his sense of wonder or the sure knowledge that there is much he does not understand.
Every time we learn more, we find there’s still more we don’t know. I try to convey that in my books, that sense that the world is a place of deep mystery, and part of that deep mystery is this incredible beauty that surrounds us. That matters to me because if the world were just an efficient machine, it wouldn’t need to be so beautiful. − Dean Koontz – biography.com
The Unheroic Nature of Evil
In numerous interviews over the years, Dean Koontz reveals an intentional approach to evil. Some readers complain that some of this mega-bestselling author’s novels have ant-climatic endings. This they attribute, wrongly, to Koontz not knowing how he wants a story to end. There is no better example those reviews point out is that the evil lapping bodachs don’t really make an appearance in the finale. What those reviewers fail to see is that Koontz handles evil this way intentionally.
Koontz paints evil for what it is – ugly and cowardly. As Odd says, “Everything barbarians do is nothing, no matter how loudly they insist it’s something.” Child abusing cultist and hood wearing haters of mankind do no deserve some big send off.
The Power of Language
I am not ashamed to admit it – Koontz uses big words and at times they require a dictionary, at least for me. However, one never gets the feeling he does so with a thesaurus at his side as he searches for something that will impress the reader. He even has some fun with himself by having a character mull over how much she loves the sound of the word, thwart. The mark of most literary type works is pretentiousness – don’t you just love the sound of that word? How can you call Odd Thomas that while he talks about occasional otherworldly appearances by Alfred Hitchcock, Elis Presley, and Frank Sinatra?
Few extended series conclude to everyone’s satisfaction. Fans of the TV show LOST still haven’t quit griping about the last ten minutes. However, Saint Odd ends where it needed to. It is no spoiler to reveal that Odd said he would have to die to meet his beautiful Stormy Llewellyn and he does. It isn’t how Odd’s life ended but how it was lived that matters.
“That I had come full circle shouldn’t have surprised me, for we are born into time only to be born out of it, after living through the cycles of the seasons, under stars that turn because the world turns, born into ignorance and acquiring knowledge that ultimately reveals to us our enduring ignorance: The circle is the essential pattern of our existence.”
Dean Koontz books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 450 million copies to date. Fourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Sixteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback.
The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.”