Dean Koontz’s thoroughly enjoyable and readable Odd Thomas series gets the graphic novel treatment in the paperback IN ODD WE TRUST. The series has been a bestseller for Koontz for years, and here he fills in some of the missing details of Odd’s life. IN ODD WE TRUST is a prequel, an original story that begins before the first book in the series.
The premise of Odd’s life is that he sees dead people. Or at least their left-behind spirits. These spirits are sometimes looking for justice or resolution to their lives, and Odd is enlisted to help, along with his tough-as-nails, gun-toting girlfriend, named Stormy (yes, Stormy is more than a bit of a cliché at this point; luckily, she is rescued by being a fresh and genuine character and has enough heart to stand on her own).
IN ODD WE TRUST may introduce some new readers to Koontz’s work, but more likely it will introduce some Koontz readers to manga (the book isn’t true manga; it reads left to right). It’s a great format for Odd, since he’s a bit of a superpowered guy anyway, and it’s nice to have a visual representation of Odd’s native Pico Mundo, California, and the restaurant where he makes the tastiest pancakes in town.
Odd and Stormy are determined to find the killer of a recently murdered young boy (the book’s creepy opening shows the boy’s spirit reading a newspaper account of his own murder). They work at solving the crime while, somewhere outside, the killer plots again. It’s not exactly groundbreaking fare, but Koontz has always had a unique eye for the suspenseful. He’s having fun here, too, using the format to great effect and creating an atmosphere of chilling and eerie effectiveness.
Koontz has enlisted the help of noted manga artist Queenie Chan (the Australian artist is probably best known for her great work on TOKYOPOP’s The Dreaming series). Chan also helps with the writing here, so the graphic novel doesn’t have the same feel as Koontz’s prose series, but it’s a nice changeup here.
The series gets some new life, and additional insight, from this work. Koontz includes an essay at the end that explains how he created the character of Odd Thomas and how he draws his inspiration for the work. Koontz promises that ultimately there will be six books in the Odd Thomas series and that “His end will prove to be there in his beginning, and his beginning in his end.” Fittingly, the book then segues into the first chapter of ODD THOMAS, so readers can see exactly what that beginning was. Chan’s sketchbook work is also included, a nice behind-the-scenes touch for readers.
Despite its fictional timing set before the opening of the first novel in the series, IN ODD WE TRUST is not the best introduction to the characters of Pico Mundo. New readers will want to check out ODD THOMAS first before checking back here. The experience will be more rewarding that way.
Reviewed by John Hogan on June 24, 2008
In Odd We Trust