I’m not sure what motivated me to pick this book up, since mystery novels are not usually my cup of tea, but I am forever grateful that I made that decision. I have read and re-read this novel a few times and it never ceases to amaze me. The way Dean Koontz presents the content, yet odd, characters is a perfect way to rope someone in. It is quite difficult to drag your tired eyes away from this novel (even when it’s 4am and you know you have to work in the morning).
Odd Thomas lives up to his first name; he is a 20 year old short-order cook with the ability to see the ghosts of the dead and the shadowy faceless spirits he calls “bodachs,” who gravitate toward scenes of horrific violence and evil. Odd is a very likable guy whose ideal future rests with his girlfriend (and soul mate) Stormy Llewellyn and with a career in tires or footwear. Aware that his sixth sense is a burden that sets him apart and makes him appear otherworldly to others, he knows that he has received this gift for a reason. He feels a responsibility to make sense of the ghosts he encounters and to thwart the violence that the bodachs portend. When he spots a large congregation of bodachs converging on his hometown of Pico Mundo, he has a premonition of great disaster. He hones in on a villainous and twisted “Fungus Man” who he senses will most likely cause the violence. He must now discover the time and place where the bloodshed will occur. He races against the clock to prevent a tragic outcome. Narrated by Odd, this story is at times gory, at times inspirational, at times funny, and at times bittersweet. But the entire time it is flawless even though it can be unsettling, because it is worth it.
“We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which we must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness and despair.”
Oddly, I’d never read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was a high school student. Nor had I ever seen the film version with Gregory Peck. Somehow I was lucky enough to avoid learning the plot of the famous story until I decided to pick the book up one day and read it cover to cover in one day.
I sank into Harper Lee’s only novel not knowing what to expect. And I was certainly not disappointed. I was also not discouraged by the slow movement of the first few chapters. Jean-Louise Finch, better known as Scout, is the protagonist of the story (with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their exiguous friend Dill (his real name being Charles Baker Harris. “Your name’s longer’n you are,” Jem points out) evoke the timeless place of childhood.
Dill set the stage for the entire story to unfold. He encourages Jem and Scout to begin a quest to seek out the infamous Boo Radley who, naturally, turns out to be nothing like you’d expect. It takes a tremendous amount of talent for an author to be able to develop two plots for a book. As Harper Lee begins it is with the journey of the young Finch children through Maycomb, and she gracefully builds up the story of the trial that will change the feel of the entire story and build up to a well thought out and perfectly planned ending to a phenomenal story.
As for Atticus Finch (I certainly didn’t forget about him), what can one say about a Pulitzer Prize winning father who seems to embody the greatest of virtues? He is tolerant, patient, kind, and understanding. He does not meddle with his children’s affairs, he always speaks to them as his equals, as fellow adults (he even allows them to call him “Atticus”), and his infamous skill as a lawyer is legendary. Lee presents Atticus in a tough and sensitive manner, so that his believability is paramount.
This novel is, and always will be, a must read for any age. This legendary classic is one that is recognized by everyone, even those who have never read it show some familiarity with the timeless, ever-popular characters.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is….It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”