Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

Forever Odd is the second in a series of novels centred around the character Odd Thomas, a young man with the ability to see what he calls “the lingering dead” – spirits of dead people who, for one reason or another, have unfinished business before moving on. It’s far from an original notion, of course, but that didn’t stop me devouring the first and second novels quickly, and anticipating the third.

I’m probably repeating what I said in my review of the first book, but Forever Odd is a great read because of its titular character, a sensitive, eccentric, deep thinking young man, dealing with a supernatural gift that has the habit of doubling as a curse.

Forever Odd begins several months after the traumatic climax of the first novel. We see Odd voluntarily unemployed, living alone in an apartment, trying to put the pieces of his psyche back together. Suddenly he is visited by a new ghost, the father of one of his friends – a man who should be vey much alive. Odd quickly visits the man’s house, only to discover that his friend has been kidnapped, and his friend’s father murdered. And so, Odd sets off in hot pursuit, his gift giving him an edge over anything the police might do.

In one sense, the novel is typical formulaic Koontz, and just when I’m inclined to view the author as a bit of a hack, he goes and surprises me with a nugget of wisdom among the pages, elevating the book to more than just the literary equivalent of a dumb action movie. Koontz, in his podcast, said the novel is about “the redemptive nature of unearned suffering.” That’s a tad pretentious, but credit where credit’s due: Koontz does inject a few good insights about life into the prose.

All things considered, the Forever Odd makes a pretty good thriller, and it has a tendency to surprise the reader (as did the first novel).

A worthy sequel. Looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into Brother Odd sometime. And I’ve heard Koontz is intending to write yet more Odd Thomas books.

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