Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brother Odd, by Dean Koontz



By far the weakest entry in the Odd Thomas series so far. Koontz fails to realize that Odd Thomas works best as the lone "supernatural" factor in a normal world. Instead, Koontz insists on surrounding him with increasingly fantastical circumstances.

The plot in this story was particularly weak. So bizarre as to be downright ludicrous, the "bone beasts" and "grim reaper" were laughable rather than scary. And the climax was telegraphed from the beginning chapters of the book. It is a well known literary trope that the brilliant and secretive physicist monk brought on in the first act must go off in the third. Especially when the author forces him to engage in this little gem of dialogue:

"I want to know."
"Know what?" I asked.
"Everything," he said, and the door slid shut between us.
These words, reminiscent of Eden and spoken by a scientist, always herald the impending arrival of some horrific discovery/invention man was never intended to make/create, with catastrophic consequences. Koontz likes cliches too much to deviate from this pattern.

He still fancies himself a wordsmith, and he certainly knows a lot of words. But his usage of words feels forced, rather than effortless. Every once in a while, his descriptors are dead-on. But the rest of the time, he sounds like he wants to be a poet, and the flowery prose rings false.

There was one line in the book that made me laugh out loud, though:

"There's a girl named Flossie Bodenblatt--"
"Surely not," said Romanovich.

But other than that little gem, you're better off spending your time elsewhere.

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