Friday, August 10, 2012

Brother Odd | by: Dean Koontz

Brother Odd is the third book telling the story of Odd Thomas, a man with strong intuition and can see the dead who have not crossed over. But there are also more sinister things he can see that others cannot.

After months at St. Bartholomew's, the monastery Odd Thomas has been staying at in order to find refuge from the hectic supernatural life he leads, Odd Thomas sees such sinister things that may be a sign of impending death. More specifically, he sees them lingering around the disabled children at the school at St. Bartholomew's. Meanwhile, there are a couple of brothers at the monastery that Odd Thomas does not believe he can trust, for he suspects that there is much more than meets the eye.

There is something odd happening at St. Bartholomew's, and if there's anyone who can figure it all out, it's Odd Thomas.

When I began to read Brother Odd, I felt as though I would never finish this book. In other words, the start was slow. Of course, Koontz needed to give readers a good understanding of the setting, St. Bartholomew's Abbey, as many readers may not be accostomed to such a setting. This was done in a way that was a bit babbly, kind of like when historical fiction writers ramble about all the information they know about a time period and the plot suffers. Thankfully, Brother Odd did not continue to go on like this. When Koontz made the enviornment well-known, he no longer persisted and the plot was in motion.

And from then on, I rarely ever felt like putting the book down.

Dean Koontz's writing is descriptive and humorous as Odd Thomas narrates, but there are definitely some heartfelt moments in the midst. For one thing, Odd Thomas is an interesting and sympathetic character. Each time he spoke of losing Stormy, my heart sank a little. He seems like such a nice guy with good intentions, and it sucks when bad things happen to kind-spirited people - even if they are fictional.

Speaking of which, while Odd Thomas is at the monastery, he talks to a couple of the disabled children there as the plot progresses. Being an overly sympathetic person, some of the backstories of these kids really felt like a knife in the chest. Especially Jacob and Florrie (aka Christmas). Those two contribute to why this novel is as good as it was; they gave this story so much more meaning to it. Honestly, without Stormy, Florrie, and Jacob, I probably wouldn't have seen quite as much in this novel.

Still, there are even more standout characters involved. All the characters are carefully crafted and likeable, and each of them had a backstory (which could be a bit tedious at times, but I think it's generally a positive factor). Brother Knuckles was a favorite of mine because of his troubled past and toughness, while Brother Romanovich stood out more and more as the story progressed. Readers will definitely be amused that Elvis Presley is a character, and an enjoyable one at that.

Despite all of the lightness previously mentioned, this is a suspenseful novel where creepiness was always a factor. Though it was indeed a bit eerie, there's nothing particularly frightening about this book. I couldn't really feel the suspense as much as I would have liked to. In the end, the who/what/when/where/why was surprising to a degree, but I must say the way to finally stop the antagonist was very predictable.

Though Brother Odd hit some good notes, I do feel it could have been better if the suspense factor was more potent. But overall, it wasn't bad at all and was indeed more than entertaining.

3.5/5 Stars

Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd
New York: Bantam Dell

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