A new hybrid: horror meets spiritual development

Let me backtrack to Dean Koontz’s first Odd novel, Odd Thomas, in which the charming, quirky Odd is introduced. He is a twenty year old man who lives in Pico Mundo, California, and would like to lead a simple life as a fry cook or a tire salesman and marry the love of his life, Stormy Llewellyn. Unfortunately, his life is not destined to be simple or quiet. Among other “gifts,” Odd sees and communicates with ghosts (these interactions are the source of much surprising humor), and receives forewarning of deaths and disasters. Being a pure spirit himself (not self-identified, but clearly so to us readers), he feels compelled to try to avert these catastrophes, although he has no idea how best to do that.  This first entry is surprising, charming, and totally entertaining. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an absorbing, action-filled novel with a twist. The second two (Forever Odd and Brother Odd) are equally satisfying, developing Odd’s sense of mission.Odd Thomas

After thoroughly enjoy the first three Odd Thomas novels from Dean Koontz, I opened Odd Hours with great anticipation, but I found myself somewhat disappointed with this entry in the series. I know others have given it positive reviews, but my sense was that the writing and development went too far in the direction of things left unsaid and simple moment by moment narrative. Odd is wonderfully simple in his approach, and I understand that Koontz wants to emphasize this in the narrative style, but this time out, the narrative voice became almost silly at times. The addition of a major new character, Annamarie, suggests somewhat the track of the plot to come in the next installments, but again, she is too thinly drawn to be quite satisfying to me. Nonetheless, I heartily recommend the first novel and leave you to decide how many of the sequels you want to try. Request Odd Thomas from the Heights Libraries.

There is a significant trend among genre writers toward combining genres these days–“crossover” titles: romance and horror; mystery and the supernatural; science fiction and mystery; etc.–and this unusual series by Koontz seems to me to be right in that vein. Although these hybrids can drive librarians crazy (where do they go? where will our customers look for them?) they provide great variations for readers who enjoy surprises. One example is Stephenie Meyers. Her Twilight series is a romance and horror combo (vampires) that is in heavy demand with both teens and adults. Another is Charlaine Harris , whose Southern Vampire Series, a blend of humor, mystery, romance, and horror,  is hugely popular with a wide audience. Just about any combination of genres that appeals to you is probably waiting at your library! (Ask a librarian to point the way.)

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