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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Oddkins by Dean Koontz

A Fable for All Ages

Dean Koontz
Open Road Media
This was up for a Locus award.

Toy maker Isaac Bodkins gives toys life, the ability to come alive only for the children they serve, but they must pretend to be lifeless around adults. Before Bodkins passed away, he passes over responsibility to the toys to find the new toy maker before another group takes over.

Rex and an army of evil toys--robots, puppets, Jack-in-the-Boxes, and a switchblade bee--come alive and try to set in place a serial killer as the new toy maker so that their reign of terror on the hearts of children can return.

Isaac's nephew, Victor Bodkins, feels the pull to step out of his work, and to enter something different. As he drives around, he runs into the evil toys who attack him, and the serial killer himself. Meanwhile, the good toys, ill-prepared to attack like the evil toys since they are soft and without the evil toys' armaments, must fend off both the other toys and natural dangers in a world where they are only to be alive for their own children.

While this doesn't have the children-storytelling voice I mentioned earlier in "The Voice of the Children's Author", the characters have their charm, and the tale conveys the pacing, suspense, chills and thrills you'd expect in a Dean Koontz novel.

It's curious that this is subtitled, "A Fable for All Ages" since the characters are toys, albeit animal toys (According to the a fable is "a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral."). What's the fable's moral? It may be good vs. evil (helpfulness vs. indifference, violence vs. kindness), or technology versus nature, or some religious parable whose parallel is not readily apparent. You'll have to decide for yourself.

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