Saturday, 11 October 2014

Interlude 008

Deeply Odd – Dean Koontz

Published 2013

2 stars

Odd Thomas is a young fry cook with an extraordinary paranormal gift: he sees the dead, and the soon-to-be dead. Encountering a truck driver, he is suddenly visited by the disturbing vision of three innocent children who will be horribly slaughtered by this man.

Realizing that his outrageous intent is now known, the trucker – a sociopath of singular boldness and cunning – tries to kill Odd, but fails and flees. Odd gives pursuit, and then is himself pursued. And it is on this journey that Odd will discover that he is up against not a single twisted murderer, but a network of evil men whose identities and motivations are mysterious and whose resources seem almost supernatural.

Luckily, in this world that Odd finds so beautiful and full of wonders, and deeply odd as well, he will meet a collection of like-minded dreamers and eccentrics who will help him to take the next giant step towards his destiny.

I’ve mentioned before about the great deals on books at Tesco. One of the first I ever picked up was Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I’d never read Koontz before so I didn’t know what to expect but it was cheap enough for me to take a chance.

Until then I assumed Koontz was a second rate Stephen King as I often saw there oversized libraries competing for shelf space within spitting distance of one another.

I was impressed with the story of the small time fry cook who sees ghosts. Its supernaturally gifted main character and real world threats mixed well and the ending was a real, unexpected gut punch.
That book is one of my all-time favourites; a guilty pleasure on my top ten.

Now, six books on, I wish Mr Koontz would just give up.

Odd’s story seems to just be dragging on now. Since book one he has gained new compatriots and faced some pretty boring evil in some really OTT situations. And no answers are forth coming. The character of Odd just repeats himself to each new person he meets and he has, in this book, meet some really mysterious people that, I’m guessing, will be explained in about three or four books time despite appearing in all the books between now and then.

The story itself has Odd on the tail of a murderous trucker; a man who Odd has foreseen will murder three children in a pretty horrific way. This set up comes nice and early (as in immediately) but, just a couple of chapters in the pace drops; dramatically.

Fortunately it picks up at the end with a really good climax that, while adding another thing to the world of Odd Thomas without a real explanation, does start showing the bigger picture of things beyond just Odd and the ghosts he sees.

Part of me wishes that I could stick with it, just like a lot of us held out hope for Attack of the Clones even after Phantom Menace. But I’m tired of waiting for things to kick off. I’m worried that there is no ending in mind for Odd and, like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, he is destined to just carry on and on and on and (you get the picture).

And speaking of Star Wars; there is one reason beyond all others that will prevent me from going back. Mr Koontz’s writing style has slowly started to grate on me over the course of the last few years. So much so that I dropped all his other releases (I’d been reading all the books since Odd Thomas and even some back catalogue) and only kept up with Odd’s adventures out of sympathy for the character.

But, of all the awfully written passages in this book there was one that stood out and made me realise I was ‘breaking up’ with this author.

I don’t want to sound egotistical or all high and mighty but when authors do this it really, really ticks me off.

Odd makes a comment about half through the book and says he’s not trying to compare himself to Yoda. That is fine. Unfortunately Mr Koontz clearly thinks he is writing for movie deprived two year olds because what he does here, and indeed what he does for all cultural references in this novel, is 
explain the reference further; Yoda; the little green Jedi master from the Star Wars movie.

If someone doesn’t know who Yoda is by name alone then describing him further is pointless. Cultural references in stories shouldn’t be mistaken for Wikipedia entries.

Because of this, I’m out (note to Dean Koontz – that quote is from Dragons Den, a show where ordinary people ask to borrow money from established millionaires to help their fledgling business ideas. Just in case you didn’t know).

Note: As I posted this I found out that the last book in the series is coming out December 2014.

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