September 10, 2007
Brother Odd by Dean Koontz
Finished on 9/2/07
Rating: 2/5 (Below Average)
R.I.P. II Challenge #1
I see dead people, spirits of the departed who, each for his own reason, will not move on from this world. Some are drawn to me for justice, if they were murdered, or for comfort, or for companionship; others seek me out for motives that I cannot always understand.
This complicates my life.
Meh. I guess I'm not terribly disappointed since I didn't have high hopes for the book. As most of you already know, I loved Odd Thomas (read it twice and still think about reading it again), but was awfully disappointed with the sequel, Forever Odd. I've been holding off on reading Brother Odd for quite some time, but Carl's R.I.P. II Challenge inspired me to finally give it a chance. Well, it wasn't bad. Just not great. It lacked the hold-your-breath suspense that I've grown to enjoy in say, Stephen King's books, and the overdone metaphors became a bit tiresome:
Behind the white gravecloth of churning snow, the dead-gray face of the day awaited imminent burial.
Koontz is a talented and skillful writer. But when you encounter an over-the-top metaphor like this, one gets the feeling that he's simply showing off--using metaphors not because they add to the story, but simply because he can.
Another negative aspect of the book is that I never really connected with any of the supporting characters (far too many monks and nuns to keep track of), and as quantum physics isn't my thing, I found the premise of the story a bit far-fetched. (Then again, quantum physics is probably more plausible than seeing ghosts.) I simply couldn't wrap my brain around the skeletonized boogeyman or uberskeleton, as described by Koontz in this passage:
Beneath the veneer of a face lay the fullness of what I had only glimpsed in the eye sockets, in the yawning mouth: a phantasmagoria of bony forms linked by hinge joints, by pivot joints, by ellipsoidal joints, by ball-and-socket joints, and by joints for which no name existed, and which were not natural to this world. The apparition appeared to be a solid mass of bones combined so intimately that they must be fused, compacted so completely that they could have no room to rotate or flex. Yet they did rotate and flex and pivot and more, seemed to move not merely in three dimensions but in four, in an unceasing exhibition of dexterity that astonished and amazed.
One saving grace in all three of these novels is Odd Thomas' sardonic wit. Not only is he a likeable hero, he's very funny.
Had the visitor been a man, he would have knocked. If it had been only the wind, it would have huffed and strained against the door until the planks creaked. This scrape was the sound of bone on wood, or something like bone. I could imagine an animated skeleton clawing with mindless persistence at the other side of the door. In all my bizarre experiences, I have never actually encountered an animated skeleton. But in a world where McDonald's now sells salad with low-fat dressing, anything is possible.
And, Koontz certainly does have a way with words. This is a particularly nice passage:
Living in a monastery, even as a guest rather than as a monk, you have more opportunities than you might have elsewhere to see the world as it is, instead of through the shadow that you cast upon it.
But given a choice, I'll take a Stephen King or Joe Hill ghost any day; for some reason such ghosts seem more realistic than Koontz’s bizarre creature of flexing bones!