Reviewing the Pages: Odd Thomas

748610

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

From the very get-go, Odd Thomas explains that he is going to be an unreliable narrator, well, at least in terms of the writing that he is doing for the tale that he is publishing, but it still works here. Odd is…well, odd. An avenger of sorts; Odd inspires to be nothing more than your everyday common man, but his special gift tells him otherwise. I have to say that this tale gets you invested with Odd’s way of telling things, plus getting you rooting for him and Stormy. This is one of the very few tales that I would make me cry because I feel for Odd. Is that a bad thing?

For those who like a bit of a odd tale, with a bit of love, happiness, supernatural elements, and some Elvis within, then you should check it out. 

Within the first three pages, Odd already establishes himself as an unreliable narrator, and it certainly shows throughout the tale.  Odd throws a lot of humor at us, interspersed between the darkness that he is plunging himself into.  From the humorous introductions of the supporting cast, or his self-deprecation (one of the clearest moments of this is during his interaction with his father’s Girlfriend of the Moment).  However, there’s a darkness to Odd’s tale.  A family that doesn’t love him, and a fear of firearms that doesn’t get explained until the latter third of the book.  Though, while it seems like it goes away, part of me thinks that that fear got suppressed by Odd trying to save the people of the story.

Which is where the sadness comes in.  I’m glad that we didn’t get Odd seeing Stormy.  I can only imagine what sort of dark character turn it would have taken Odd down, and we don’t need that.  Reading chapters sixty-four through sixty-six, for a brief moment (even though I had read this before, and remembered the ending), I was rooting for Odd and Stormy to have their wonderful life together.  But, alas, it just isn’t meant to be.  And for Odd, there’s so much more for him…like six novels worth.  As stated above, those who like odd adventures should check this read out.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll know why the dead don’t speak.

Advertisements

Reviewing the Pages: The Graveyard Apartment

28220806

A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.

I saw this book somewhere, whether it was on Goodreads or through a website that did book lists, and were like “this is a horror book that you should read”. And I decided to go pick it up. Cause an apartment building in the middle of a graveyard is sure to leave us full of laughter and joy. Which, this book doesn’t have. At all. Sure, there are some snarky moments given by Teppei, but for the most part, there seemed to be too many aside and thoughts that should have been said. Which, may be the Japanese way. I’m not entirely sure.

Now, there are some minor cultural hiccups, like the mentioning of the Golden Week, and a couple other customs that us Westerners don’t come across in our daily life. But that’s perfect. I most certainly enjoyed the small peek into Japanese life that we got in this book, especially with the time period that it was happening in (which was 30 years ago. Makes me feel old just thinking about it).

As far as the horror, I felt like I was reading a horror movie. I think I’ve said that before in a review, but it really felt that way here. I also felt like there wasn’t a real motivation for the ghosts. I’m not entirely sure if there was an explanation given, other than some of the larger story points.

However, if you are a fan of ghost stories, and want to experience a different setting than one in your native home land, than you should check this read out.

Ok.  As I said above, this reminds me of a horror movie.  Well, I was specifically thinking of Annabelle, but with ghosts instead of a creepy possessed doll.

Anyway, I really missed out on the motivation here.  Sure, our setting primarily takes place in an apartment complex that was built on a Buddhist graveyard, and that the spirits were not happy that there were living people living in their final resting spot.  That’s about it.  I would have much rather had this attack happen because of Reiko finally getting enough energy to start haunting the holy heck out of the family.

I did appreciate this read, just wasn’t so keen on the lack of the motivation of the haunting and the general portrayal of the characters, especially the brothers.  Yes, I know brothers can fight and get jealous of each other, but it just didn’t seem to work for me here.  However, I do urge you to check this read out, and enjoy it.