Getting to Know Odd: Unpacking the First Odd Thomas Novel

Among the one-hundred-plus novels, novellas, short fiction, and collection of short stories that Dean Koontz has published since the 1960s, the Odd Thomas series is a major highlight in his writing career. It comprises nine titles published between 2003 and 2015. The first Odd Thomas novel appropriately acts as an introduction to the titular character, the simple life he has, the small circle of friends he makes, and his supernatural ability that often helps the local police solve the otherwise seemingly unsolvable criminal cases.

Who is Odd?

Let us begin with the narrator’s unusual name. Odd is his first name; Thomas is the surname. It is not even a nickname. Some say “Odd” may have been a misspelling of “Todd,” while others think he is given the name after an uncle who might not even exist to begin with. He doesn’t talk to or see his mother very often, if at all. They have a strained relationship, mostly because of her manipulative nature. Despite an early display of writing talent in high school, Odd finds no ease in the trade and instead chooses to work at a local hamburger joint as a cook in the small town of Pico Mundo in the Mojave Desert, California.

The biggest reason he likes to flip hamburgers rather than write stories for a living is the simplicity of the job. Odd can see ghosts, especially those who need to find peace. Many of them are victims of brutal murders, seeking Odd for help to bring their killers to justice. He feels like it is his obligation to do what he can to help. A constant exposure to supernatural beings and the horrible experiences they went through moments before their deaths is nowhere near good for anybody’s mental health. By keeping life simple, the man has kept his sanity intact.

Odd Thomas does live up to his name. He is indeed odd, but that is probably the only unflattering aspect anyone can say about his personality. Despite the quirkiness, he is humbly compassionate and never fails to show respect to others. Odd is deep in love with his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn and finds a wonderful father figure in the local police chief Wyatt Porter. Apart from those two, there is only a handful of close friends who know about Odd’s ability to see the dead.

A good relationship with the local police chief means Odd can contribute to society by helping investigators solve tough cases, including heinous crimes. He only plays behind-the-scene roles, but that’s the best he can do to avoid exposing himself to the public. Not every ghost he encounters is miserable. In fact, he is often accompanied by the ghost of the King himself, Elvis. It is worth mentioning that Elvis’ ghost is the only one with the ability to wear any outfit befitting his status. Other ghosts are simply stuck with whatever they wore the day they died.

The story picks up the pace when a stranger comes to town and inevitably attracts Odd’s attention. It is not about his clothing, appearance or demeanor, but the shadowy creatures swarming around him. Odd refers to the stranger as the “Fungus Man” and calls the dark entities “bodachs.” While he doesn’t actually know what the bodachs are, he once heard a young man mention the term before. Within just minutes after the young man had spoken of the shadow’s name, he was killed in an accident. As far as Odd knows, the young man was the only other person who could see the dark entities. Odd understands the bodachs are dangerous creatures and that he must not let them know if he can see them. Past events also taught him that bodachs’ appearance is almost always a prelude to a catastrophe in which many people die. He once witnessed a swarm of bodachs before an earthquake destroyed a nursing home and left dozens killed.

He cannot help but wonder who the stranger is, and his investigative adventure begins. Odd borrows his boss’ car to look for the Fungus Man, who is at a mall and seems to be engaged in a shopping spree. There is nothing he can do, so he follows the stranger to his home. Odd finds an opportunity to dig deeper into the mystery just as soon as the Fungus Man leaves again. He enters his home and discovers the largest concentration of bodachs in a single place he has ever encountered. It is much denser than he saw before the earthquake, which only means an even bigger disaster is about to hit the town. Everyone he knows is now in danger unless he can stop the looming calamity before it is all too late.

We think Odd Thomas is a short and sweet old-school tale about good versus evil, told from the perspective of a unique personality. It is the adventure of an amateur detective as he prevents an inexplicable yet dangerous paranormal-related crime. As for the main character/narrator himself, readers should immediately notice that he is unlike any conventional hero in most stories. He is a peculiar, round yet dynamic character who actually realizes his unreliability as a narrator. The story can be quite repetitive but it never outweighs the novel’s readability and fun.

Do you think Odd Thomas is geared toward adult or teen readers? Is the supernatural stuff enough to make it a horror novel? We’d love to hear from you.

Have you read the Odd Thomas series? If not then buy it here!

Other things you might want to know:

Books in the series:

  1. Odd Thomas (2003)
  2. Forever Odd (2005)
  3. Brother Odd (2006)
  4. Odd Hours (2008)
    1. Odd Interlude (2012)
  5. Odd Apocalypse (2012)
  6. Deeply Odd (2013)
    1. Odd Thomas: You Are Destined to Be Together Forever (2014)
  7. Saint Odd (2015)

Odd Thomas series prequels:

  1. In Odd We Trust (2008)
  2. Odd Is On Our Side (2010)
  3. House of Odd (2012)

All titles in the prequel series are graphic novels by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan.

Screen adaptation of Odd Thomas:

The 2013 thriller film Odd Thomas is based on the novel. The film features Anton Yelchin as Odd Thomas and Willem Dafoe as Wyatt Porter.

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