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Review: “Forever Odd” by Dean Koontz

Forever Odd (***) is the second Odd Thomas adventure (see my review for the first one here). This one isn’t as good as the first one, but that’s a hard act to follow! Still worth reading.

Here we meet up with Odd several months after the end of Odd Thomas. Once again, a friend is in trouble and it falls to Odd to do something about it….from an abandoned casino to the storm sewer system of Pico Mundo, this book never lets up as it races to its finish….

Honestly, I think this one falls a little flat. Read it anyway, but make sure you continue on to Brother Odd before you decide to stop the series. At which point you will decide against stopping the series….

Content advisories:
Language: PG-13. Brief, but occasionally strong. Even PG-13 films are allowed two F-bombs these days, so I think this is a safe assessment.
Violence: PG-13. People die, but usually not in grotesque detail. There is tragedy, but it is balanced with hope. Still, occasionally disturbing. Another factor: the lingering dead. These can be a little grotesque at times, depending on the manner of their demise.
Sex: PG-13. The villainess in Forever Odd is a 900-line operator with a penchant for the occult. The subjects of rape and child molestation occasionally come up in the course of Odd’s adventures, given that he sometimes runs into the lingering spirits of victims of such crimes. Not explicit, not gratuitous, but not for kids either.

THE ODD THOMAS SERIES, BY DEAN KOONTZ
Prequel: You Are Destined To Be Together Forever
Book I: Odd Thomas
Book II: Forever Odd
Book III: Brother Odd
Book IV: Odd Hours
Interlude: Odd Interlude
Book V: Odd Apocalypse
Book VI: Deeply Odd
Book VII: Saint Odd
Manga Prequel Series
Odd Passenger (Non-Canon Webseries)

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Mini-Reviews: Odd Thomas Manga Prequels

This is a compilation of reviews for the Odd Thomas manga series that serve as prequels to the novels. On the whole, I enjoyed them. There may have been some level where I was just really starved for new material though….It would be a good idea to read the first novel [reviewed here] before getting into these, simply because that’s the introduction for all the characters and by nature of the medium the characters get developed better in the novel.

IN ODD WE TRUST (****)
Written by Queenie Chan and Dean Koontz, Drawn by Queenie Chan

Odd Thomas as a manga? I was skeptical. But its actually good….This series serves as sort of a prequel to the novels, as will be obvious to anyone who has actually read them (the presence of a certain character kinda gives it away….), and if you haven’t I urge you to go out and get a copy of Odd Thomas right now. NOW!

I really enjoyed this, but I think my experience was enhanced by already knowing and loving the characters. While you COULD read this cold, never having read the novels before, I think you would enjoy it that much more if you read at least the first novel before picking this up. Your call though….In the meantime, I’m going out to get the next manga from the library.

ODD IS ON OUR SIDE (****)
Written by Fred Van Lente and Dean Koontz, Drawn by Queenie Chan

This is the second Odd Thomas manga graphic novel in the series. They don’t really build on each other, or at least the first two don’t, so reading In Odd We Trust isn’t really necessary (though it was good as well), but you should definitely read Odd Thomas (the first novel) before entering here. Although this is technically a prequel to that story (as denoted by the presence of characters who die in the first novel), the characters are all introduced and forged in that book better than they can be here by simple nature of the medium.

In this installment, it’s Halloween in Pico Mundo and Odd has a nagging sense of impending catastrophe. It’s just a feeling, nothing more….until he sees one of the fleeting demons he calls bodachs, living shadows that seem to thrive on catastrophe and suffering. A single bodach is bad, but a whole swarm? That heralds destruction on a biblical scale….and unknown to Odd, there are a lot more in town than the one he’s spotted….

HOUSE OF ODD (****)
Written by Landry Q. Walker and Dean Koontz, Drawn by Queenie Chan

Once again, Koontz and his comic compatriots serve up another awesome Odd Thomas manga. As noted before, I think you would enjoy these a lot better if you read at least the first novel before setting in, so as to get a feel for the characters. This one takes a slightly different tack in that its framed as Odd writing down more of his adventures sometime after Odd Hours–its still set before the events of the first novel, but is narrated from further down the timestream.

This time Odd has something new on his hands–a haunted house bought by a friend of Ozzie’s. She can’t keep a crew of workmen for the renovation, so she turns to Odd Thomas and Stormy for help….but decides to call in some professional ghost-hunters as well. The house is completely free from the lingering dead–not even Elvis will enter–but nevertheless something evil is stirring within those walls…..

Content-wise these are pretty PG. The novels are probably more PG-13, but these don’t have any foul language to speak of. Violence exists, given the nature of the series (Odd sees dead people, and tries to help them. This usually means that there was some form of wrongful death involved somewhere…..) but is not graphically rendered–mostly it has happened in the past and all we see is the aftermath. In any case, the line-art manga can only be so graphic…. Sexual content was minimal to none. There may be brief references, inuendos or double-entendres, but I don’t recall them at this point.

THE ODD THOMAS SERIES, BY DEAN KOONTZ
Prequel: You Are Destined To Be Together Forever
Book I: Odd Thomas
Book II: Forever Odd
Book III: Brother Odd
Book IV: Odd Hours
Interlude: Odd Interlude
Book V: Odd Apocalypse
Book VI: Deeply Odd
Book VII: Saint Odd
Manga Prequel Series
Odd Passenger (Non-Canon Webseries)

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Review: “Odd Thomas” by Dean Koontz

“The dead don’t speak. I don’t know why.”

No, this isn’t a review of The Sixth Sense, though insofar as it features a main character who can see and interact with the dead Odd Thomas does share some similarities with that remarkable film. However, the comparison will end there. Bruce Willis has nothing to do with this story, living or dead or in between. Instead, this is the story of Odd Thomas (yes, that’s actually his name), a fry cook in the small town of Pico Mundo, California with an unusual gift. Or curse, depending on how you look at it. Odd sees the dead that have refused to move on for some reason, whether it be that their murder has yet to be apprehended or that they’re just too stubborn to leave. (Elvis Presley likes to hang out around town, for example, and Odd was once mooned by the ghost of Richard Nixon.) He also sees shadowy spirit-beings that seem to feed on the dark emotions surrounding tragedy. And a stranger has just come to Pico Mundo with thousands of them in tow……

This book is an absolute must-read. A beautifully-written novel, this book taught me the beauty of a well-written tragedy. For a tragedy it is at heart, despite its cheerful tone. You will start to read it and disbelieve both me and Odd, the narrator, but I promise you it will get you in the end. That said, its not a book for kids. There is some foul language, though far from being gratuitous. Likewise there is some sexual content, nothing very explicit but still there, implied and discussed, including topics such as rape and child molestation. There is violence as well, though I don’t recall it being too graphically described. So be aware of what you are in for, but by all means read this book.

Dean Koontz is one of my absolute favorite authors. And Odd Thomas is quite possibly my favorite Dean Koontz novel ever. There are a few others that could maybe rival it, but I’ll leave those for other reviews. Koontz’s writing successfully captures the tension and drama (sometimes the horror, depending on the book) without becoming as bleak and hopeless as some of this peers, especially Stephen King. (Don’t get me wrong, I like King’s work, but a lot of what I have read has been pretty bleak.) Evil exists, and it must be countered, but Good exists too in all its wonder. And whatever horrors happen along the way, Good ultimately triumphs over Evil. But there may still be tragic consequences…..

On a related note, I recently discovered that there is a film version of this in production as I write this. I am somewhat skeptical of a film’s ability to capture the magic of Odd’s narration that really sells the book, but we’ll see. And who knows, maybe we’ll get some Bruce Willis connected to this after all!

MOVIE UPDATE: The good news is, Dean Koontz has seen the finished film and gives it two thumbs up! The bad news is, its locked up in a financial lawsuit at the moment and there’s no telling when it will be released…..In the meantime, we do have a promo trailer. The video quality isn’t great, and the article’s author is dubious as to whether this is going to be any good, but I’m still excited.

SERIES UPDATE: In addition to the subsequent sequel novels, Koontz has teemed up with Queenie Chan and a couple other comic book folk to release several manga prequels to this book. I recommend reading this first to become acquainted with the characters, but they are worth checking out. I posted a review of them here.

THE ODD THOMAS SERIES, BY DEAN KOONTZ
Prequel: You Are Destined To Be Together Forever
Book I: Odd Thomas
Book II: Forever Odd
Book III: Brother Odd
Book IV: Odd Hours
Interlude: Odd Interlude
Book V: Odd Apocalypse
Book VI: Deeply Odd
Book VII: Saint Odd
Manga Prequel Series
Odd Passenger (Non-Canon Webseries)

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