Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: The Oddly Addicting Odd Thomas Series
Welcome, welcome, to the 75th Annu- wait, wait, that’s not it, sorry…I was getting distracted there. Too many amazing movies and novels in my mind brimming over the seams that sometimes my mind just goes in to quote mode. What I meant to say is “Welcome to another hijacked suggestions post where you get to hear all about Lilith’s favorite things”, and today I am bringing you a character that I have come to admire for all his idiosyncrasies, a true oddity amongst the world of horror, right down to his name. The first novel in the series is named after this touching person: Odd Thomas is the first in a series about a boy named Odd by Dean Koontz, and it is my pleasure to suggest this series to you all.
I first met Odd when I toted along the namesake book with me on a business trip. It was a trip to a conference where I would be able to meet many of my friends and colleagues, both enjoying entertaining lectures in the day, and even more entertaining drinking antics with friends at night. Picking up the book in my hotel bed the first night, I found myself hooked, and the only saving grace was that it was a quick read, for in the four days that it took me to read it I found myself constantly wanting to get back to it.
Odd Thomas is a regular kid, only a teenager when we first meet him, living in a desert town called Pico Mundo in Southern California. And while there are some discrepancies about how he came to have the name Odd, it is indeed his legal name. And Odd certainly is just that in so many ways. Odd has a special power after all. Odd’s power? He can see the dead. Spirits and ghosts that is. And while they cannot talk, they can take many forms in front of him, either their dead corpse form or more commonly various forms they had and liked when they were alive. Not all dead people stay behind as ghosts, but many that do seek out Odd to use him to help them complete whatever unfinished business they have on this earth before moving on.
And along with the ghosts of dead, often murdered people, there are also spirits of another type that Odd sees. In particular the spirit he dreads seeing the most are bodachs, a somewhat formless, liquid creature that is drawn to death and destruction. Odd learns early on that where there are bodachs, there will soon be chatastrophe. And because of this ability of his to see where the bodachs accumulate, Odd has on many occasions prevented the killing of many people.
In the first novel we also meet several important recurring characters, like Odd’s best friend “Little Ozzie”, a morbidly obese man that is living of the riches of his famous mystery novels. There is Chief Wyatt Porter, the local police chief that knows and believes in Odd’s special skill, and helps Odd come up with cover stories on how he again and again captures various killers. And most importantly there is Stormy Llewellyn, a beautiful woman who is just as in love with Odd as he is with her. The two have been friends for years, and a fortune teller once predicted they were “destined to be together forever”.
In the first novel Odd is perturbed by a sudden mass influx of bodachs to his little town, and he uses his sight of them to help him track down a group of serial killer, mass-murdering Satanists. There are several plot twists in the story as on certain occasions when you feel genuine terror that Odd is going to get killed by one of the villains, it turns out it was just the ghost of that killer coming after him. And of course the biggest plot twist comes at the end, which I will promise not to spoil here but will say that even I did not realize it until the last minute, and you better get your tissues ready!
Seeing as how Stormy also taught Odd a lot about faith and morality growing up, it makes sense that Odd believes what Stormy told him that “this life is just boot camp”, and there is something more waiting for them after this life, that the earth life is to prepare Odd and Stormy for something more important, to fight evil beyond what they can imagine in their next life. So naturally the books continue on after this first one, enabling Odd to continue his boot camp training.
Our next novel, Forever Odd, continues in Pico Mundo, and helps Odd focus his psychic magnetism. Though the main focus of his powers in the first book were his ability to see bodachs and try to prevent death because of it, in the second book he must use his uncanny sixth sense to guide him towards the kidnappers of his best friend. How do these bad things always happen to Odd you ask? Well in this novel a crazy woman who believes in super powers some how hears about Odd’s abilities and wants to both test him and learn from him, so she figures kidnapping and threatening the life of his best friend is probably to surest way to inspire Odd.
After two horrific experiences in his home town, Odd decides to pack his bags and travel elsewhere, hoping maybe he can find a more quiet life somewhere new. What better place to travel to than a monastery, right? In Brother Odd, the third novel in the series, Odd travels to a mountainous monastery to help nuns and monks alike in raising many orphaned children. Of course, thinking this was a perfect oasis from his deadly home town of Pico Mundo, Odd quickly realizes his psychic magnetism and maybe a high power’s wish to keep up his boot camp training probably brought him here. As one of the newly ordained monks is actually a retired millionaire that is playing with powers above his safety range, and preventing the destruction of the entire planet ends up on Odd’s shoulders yet again. In this novel we meet our first ghost dog as well, who is quite an endearing and helpful addition as a side kick to Odd.
The series continue with Deeply Odd, Odd Apocalypse, and most recently Deeply Odd, of which I have read the first two but will save them for another time.
So what is it that I love about Odd? There is so much. He is witty, always has a great joke to say, continues to be optimistic in the worst of times, and doesn’t look before he leaps. He also seems to accumulate various side kicks throughout his adventures. I already mentioned I love his canine companion, but for the first three novels for some reason the ghost of Elvis Presley seems to follow him everywhere, hamming it up like he is a professional lip syncher or just making Odd smile with his outfits. We learn from Odd that many ghosts come to him to find help moving on to the next life, but Elvis seems reluctant to leave Odd’s side for the longest of times. Eventually he does, only to be replaced by the infamous Frank Sinatra, who also happens to be a poltergeist when he is particularly angry.
And the reason I decided to write about the Odd Thomas series now, over 3 years after I read the first book, is because the first in the series was recently made in to a “made for TV movie”. I have to admit, the fact that it did not make it to the big screen had me seriously skeptical. I thought for sure the movie would suck, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, yes, there were things they left out: they did not explore Little Ozzie’s character much at all, only showing him once and not ever delving in to his importance as a mentor for Odd in the series. Then probably because of the difficulty of finding a perfect Elvis look-alike, they left the whole Elvis side kick thing out. But there were a lot of ways they stayed true to the books and made me pleased.
The overall plot was untouched. The CGI bodachs were well done, and pretty terrifying. Stormy and Odd’s relationship was adorable as I pictured it in the books. And even the retired (now dead) little league coach at the Tire World store was as weird as I pictured him in the books, always trying to make Odd laugh with some stupid antic like using his detached arm to pick his nose. I was also curious if they would change any of the major plot twists, or try to make the ending less heart-breaking yet triumphant from the book. Luckily they did not change this stuff. Just as I had in the book, I found myself in tears at the end of the movie. Now, I doubt they will make a second movie out of the second book, but I am glad I took the time to watch the first.
I just have to give a shout out to Dean Koontz for a moment too. I will admit I used to think of him as a horror-genre writer, and as a child I was too scared to read his works. I am glad that I got over that fear, as I have really come to be a fan of his in adulthood. His novels deal with many things that can both eerie, horrifying, and mystical all at once. I know I will continue reading his novels as long as he keeps coming out with them, and you should consider it too. Afterall, this is my chance to put my suggestions in you, and you asked for it! Until next time geeks!
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Posted on May 15, 2014, in Books, Let Me Put My Suggestions In You, Movies and tagged Dean Koontz, ghosts, Horror, let me put my suggestions in you, made for TV movie, novels, Odd Thomas, psychic magnetism, Stormy Llewellyn. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.