Imagine the possibilities if your parents made a mistake on your birth certificate. Maybe, instead of “Jack”, your name is “Sack”, and you are forever the victim of crude, male genitalia-oriented jokes on the elementary school playground. Or, perhaps your drug dependent parents meant to name you “Randolph”, but in a heroin-induced brain lapse they named you “Adolf”. Let the Neo-Nazi puns begin, shall we?
Odd Thomas is a novel published in 2003 by Dean Koontz and is the first of four works that revolve around the unusual world of the lead character, Odd Thomas. Odd has led an interesting life. His parents were the flamboyant sort and mistakenly left the “T” off their son’s first name on the birth certificate. Couple that with the teenager’s ability to see dead people and one has the basic foundations for what proves to be a remarkable story.
On page 32, Odd simply states, “I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it.” This statement is an obvious stab at Haley Joel Osment’s character in The Sixth Sense (1999) and initially turned me off from the story. A rehashing of an aspect of a story that was already told through cinema? But it works. It works because of the last part in Odd’s declaration…he does something about it.
However, the fact that Odd can see dead people is not the most grabbing part of the novel. Instead, the relationship between Odd and his girlfriend, Bronwen (aka Stormy), serves as the emotional attachment the reader is looking for. Koontz uses his gift of flowing dialogue to portray these two adolescents as a duo with a connection that is mature beyond their years and that very fact makes the fate of their relationship that much more heart wrenching.
Although the future installments of this series fall flat, Odd Thomas is an enjoyable, poignant read that mixes horror, romance, and coming of age. The reader will find themselves cheering for Odd to find his way, and isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? And there is rumor that a film is soon to follow…
If your name is “Sack”, or “Adolf”, or “Rainbow”, or any other name the hippies of this world can think of, do not fret. There is a reason for everything. A lesson to be learned from the most trivial happenings. Maybe you are meant to cure testicular cancer, or save the world from Germany’s second Nazi uprising, or simply to be a rainbow in the lives of those who need it most. But then, by God, do something about it.