Tag Archives: Odd Tales

‘Odd Thomas’ (the Film)

Some of us were looking forward to the Odd Thomas movie, due in 2013, but it only happened in a marginal way. Legal problems prevented a conventional theater release, as I understand it. It’s now available on disk and on Netflix, where I viewed it.

Apparently a lot of people who’ve seen it didn’t like it. Well I liked it fine. I have quibbles, but I enjoyed immensely.

A very faithful adaptation of Dean Koontz’s first novel in the Odd Thomas series, this film stars Anton Yelchin, who’s appropriately charming in the role. Addison Timlin plays his beloved Stormy Llewellyn, and Willem Dafoe is Sheriff Wyatt Porter. Odd is a simple fry cook in a small town, but he has the supernatural power to see dead people who, though they can’t speak to him, appeal for his help in identifying their murderers or helping them “cross over” into the next world. He also sees demons he calls “bodachs” whose appearance inevitably portends some major act of mass violence. An unprecedented number of bodachs have been prowling the town recently, and Odd is compelled to do all he can to discover who’s planning mass murder, and stop them.

The cast is almost uniformly excellent, especially Yelchin, who seems to have the spirit of the character down, which is the really important matter for any lover of the books.

I have only a couple quibbles. One is that Odd is hyped a bit, presented as having Benihana skills with spatulas, and being a sort of martial arts master. That’s not a big deal. Worse is the casting of Patton Oswalt as Odd’s friend Boone, perhaps the worst miscasting since Whoopie Goldberg played Bernie Rodenbahr in Burglar. Fortunately his scene is very short.

All in all, perhaps the most faithful adaptation of a novel I’ve ever seen, and well worth viewing or even buying.

And yes, if you must know, I cried.

Deeply Odd, by Dean Koontz

In such a short time, Mrs. Fischer and I had achieved a degree of friendship that allowed periods of silence without awkwardness. I felt comfortable with her. I was reasonably sure that she would never shoot me or stab me, or set me on fire, or throw acid in my face, or lock me in a room with a hungry crocodile, or dump me in a lake after chaining me to two dead men. Such confidence in a new acquaintance is more rare these days than it once was.

As I read Deeply Odd, Dean Koontz’ latest Odd Thomas adventure, I thought to myself, “This feeling, which I always get from the Odd Thomas books – and more than usual in this one – must be the feeling women get from those romance novels they love.” A story that satisfies a very deep emotional need. In the case of an Odd Thomas story, that emotional need is for a picture of a world in which real evil exists, but in which good is also potent, not to mention more fun.

This time out, Odd, who is traveling California with a ghost dog, an enigmatic pregnant woman, and a boy without a family, takes a walk downtown one day to buy some new clothes, but ends up stealing a Ford Explorer in order to follow a semi truck driver who’s carrying out some unknown – but certainly evil – task. As he follows the man, he learns that the trucker is connected to the kidnapping of four children marked for a cruel, sacrificial death. But he also finds friends to help him, including an old lady who never sleeps, driving a Mercedes limousine, the world’s best protected and wisest survivalists, and the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock.

For me, Deeply Odd was just a delight from front to back. It may be my favorite Odd Thomas book to date, which is saying a great deal. Cautions for very disturbing subject matter, but no obscene language (Odd is much too polite to use such words). My highest recommendation.

Kindle here. Hardback here.

The Oddity of Dean Koontz

Odd is self-consciously one of Burke’s good men: determined to do something rather than nothing in the face of evil. In Odd Hours, he contemplates Burke’s dictum and adds that it is essential “that good men and women not be propagandized into believing that real evil is a myth” and that all malevolent behavior is simply the result of poor socialization or bad economic theory. But this awareness of responsibility comes with a price. Again from Odd Hours: “to do what you feel sure is right and in the aid of justice, you sometimes have to do things that, when recalled on lonely nights, make you wonder if in fact you are the good man that you like to believe you are.”

Our friend Hunter Baker writes about Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas in the current issue of Touchstone.

Baker on Odd

Our friend Hunter Baker praises Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas books over at Touchstone Magazine:

Years of major market success gain an author freedom to do what he wants. In the last decade, Koontz has invested his considerable artistic capital in becoming a more intentional instructor of the soul. His device for moral and spiritual teaching is a young man named Odd. Odd, like Koontz, is a Catholic. He is bright, handsome, and athletic. His parents are divorced and both highly dysfunctional. Odd’s inattentive, playboy father comes from a family with a lot of money. His mother doesn’t deserve the name. Given his upbringing, Odd is a miracle. He is God’s child more than he is the child of two people who refuse to grow up.

Odd Apocalypse, by Dean Koontz

Guys who wear porkpie hats are always, in my experience, up to no good—and pleased about it. Whether that style of headwear turns previously benign men into sociopaths or whether men who are already sociopaths are drawn to that style is one of those mysteries that will never be solved, though the Department of Justice has probably funded a score of scientific studies of the issue.

Another Odd Thomas novel from Dean Koontz, another home run. I won’t say Odd Apocalypse is my favorite in the series—I won’t even say I’m sure I liked it better than the previous novella, Odd Interlude, which I reviewed recently. But all these books are so far superior to anything else being done in the genre (assuming I know what the genre is) that you know going in that you’re in for a delight. And you are not disappointed.

Odd Thomas is the simplest of men, with the simplest of desires. All he wants is a quiet life, and to love a girl who is gone. But he’s been entrusted with gifts—the ability to see the “undeparted dead,” and a sort of psychic GPS that helps him find people he’s looking for. Because he’s faithful to God, he employs these gifts for the good of others, which leads him into great danger time and time again. Continue reading Odd Apocalypse, by Dean Koontz

More Odd, Less Gore

Last night as I was getting ready to turn in, I turned on Dennis Miller’s talk show, which is delay-broadcast here. A married couple was sitting in for him (I forget their names), and they announced that their next guest would be their friend Dean Koontz, to talk about his new novel, Odd Apocalypse.

I listened to the interview and took the book’s release date, my birthday, as a sign from heaven that I was meant to buy it now, and not wait for a lower price when the paperback comes out.

I’ll review it soon.

In other literary news, Gore Vidal has died.

They say you should speak no ill of the dead.

I have nothing more to say.

Odd Interlude, 1, 2, and 3, by Dean Koontz

Such genuine trust, so sweetly expressed, bears witness to an innocence in the human heart that endures even in this broken world and that longs to ring the bell backward and undo the days of history until all such trust would be justified in a world started anew and as it always should have been.

There’s a large company of readers for whom a new Dean Koontz book is always cause for rejoicing. But more than that, a new Odd Thomas book is cause for double rejoicing. The wandering fry cook from Pico Mundo, California is Koontz’s greatest creation, one of the most perfect depictions of actual saintliness ever conceived by an author. Not the common conception of saintliness—stuffy and judgmental—but the actual, biblical kind—humble, gentle, and quietly courageous.

Odd Interlude is an “odd” entry in the series. It’s a novella, offered in three installments, One, Two, and Three, sold for Kindle at $1.99 each, partly to raise interest in Odd Apocalypse, a new novel coming later this year. As if we needed motivation. Continue reading Odd Interlude, 1, 2, and 3, by Dean Koontz

Odd Hours, by Dean Koontz

What could be better than a new Odd Thomas book in paperback?

I’ve said before that I consider Dean Koontz less than an ideal author in the technical sense. His word choices are sometimes poor, and he’s not always as funny as he thinks he is.

On the other hand, he continues to improve as he works. And as he’s found his voice and theme as an author, his books have become—taken as a whole—sources of joy; almost means of grace.

Technically, Koontz is a horror writer. But the average horror writer explores the mystery of evil. Koontz has taken on a much more difficult task, exploring the mystery of goodness. Anyone who’s ever tried to create a good character that is neither a prig nor a wuss understands how brilliant Koontz’s achievement has been, the creation of innumerable characters who are good without being insufferable.

Chief among these is Odd Thomas, almost his only continuing character.

Odd Hours is the fourth Odd Thomas novel, and is just as good as the others. Continue reading Odd Hours, by Dean Koontz

Book Review: Brother Odd, by Dean Koontz

Our commenter Aitchmark recommended Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas books to me. I dragged my feet, because I’d read one Koontz and wasn’t terribly impressed. I didn’t think he used language very skillfully.

But I picked up Brother Odd last week, and frankly it turned my world upside down and gave it a good shake.

I still don’t think Koontz is a very good wordsmith. Time and again it seemed to me he was aiming for effects he wasn’t achieving.

But in Odd Thomas he has created a character who won my heart, and I’ll bet he’ll win yours too. You should not pick up this one first, though, but go back to the earlier books in the series to get the tragedies in sequence, because it does make a difference.

Odd Thomas (Odd is his first name. He explains it as a typo on his birth certificate, where it was supposed to say, “Todd.” Koontz doesn’t seem to be aware that Odd is an uncommon but not unknown Norwegian name, a variant of “Odin”) is a young man who makes his living as a fry cook. He is totally unremarkable (disregarding the pain he has suffered in his life) except for his unusual gift. Like the kid in The Sixth Sense and that girl on the TV show, he sees dead people.

But it’s harder for him than it is for them, because the dead don’t speak to him. The ghosts who linger in this world, in these stories, are mute. They are usually the victims of murder, and it’s Odd’s task to figure out their unspoken secrets and give them rest.

This all sounds very New Age, but it’s anything but that. Odd is a devout, practicing Roman Catholic.

In Brother Odd, in fact, he has left his California home and entered a Colorado monastery, overwhelmed by the personal losses he experienced in earlier adventures. It’s fairly quiet there for him—the only resident ghost is a monk who hanged himself in the bell tower and appears only occasionally.

But it doesn’t stay quiet. Besides ghosts, Odd is able to see spirits he calls “bodachs,” dark, shadowy figures that always gather in advance of acts of massive death and violence.

At the beginning of the story, Odd sees three of them. And they head straight for the monastery’s associated school, where the nuns care for retarded and handicapped children.

In his efforts to prevent whatever unknown horror is threatening the children, Odd must uncover the secrets of the monastery residents.

But these aren’t the kind of secrets you expect in a contemporary thriller. The monks and nuns are not practicing secret sexual rituals, or abusing the children, or plotting the overthrow of democracy. They are, by and large, sweet souls, the kind of people you can believe have given their lives in service to God and their fellow man. (I have to give Koontz tremendous props for these characterizations. As C.S. Lewis noted [I think] in The Four Loves, good characters are “the very devil” for an author.)

No, the secrets are deeper than that, and the evil resides in a place Dan Brown would have never imagined.

Koontz got completely past my reservations about his style, and grabbed me with the characters and the story. I don’t often cry over a book, but Brother Odd got to me.

Highly recommended. I’ve got to read the earlier installments, Odd Thomas and Forever Odd.