Odessa – Jonathan Hill

Odessa, like last week’s Eden, leaves me in a difficult spot, it’s enjoyable but largely forgettable. It tells the story of an America that’s literally been torn in two by an earthquake, and within that is the story of a family in search of their Mother, though things end in this volume before they find her.

When Virginia Crane turns 18 she receives a parcel from her mother, whom she’s not heard from in a number of years. After reading the enclosed letter and discovering she is still alive, she makes the decision to leave her home and the responsibility of helping her father look after her younger brothers, to trek across a now very dangerous landscape to look for her. Her father is obviously hurt by this, not only has he raised the family alone since his wife left, but he needs her help to watch her younger siblings whilst he scavenges for scrap they can sell in exchange for food. However, he realises he is powerless to stop her and writes her a note saying that her brothers are now of an age that they can start to care for themselves whilst he is away. So, one night, she sneaks away. Unfortunately for her, her brothers have figured out what she’s doing and follow her.

It’s a fairly typical story set in a fairly typical setting as I said, it’s largely forgettable, that’s not a bad thing, not everything is going to always stick with the reader. But it does have a few things going for it, one is its art style, which is almost like a more realistic Gravity Falls (I do so hope that Hill doesn’t find that insulting), played out through a variety of pastel reds. As you can see in the header image, it’s pretty striking. The character of Four Dollars was pretty cool too, I won’t say a lot more other than out of everyone he shows a lot of growth and depth, despite not really appearing in the book until about the halfway point, he certainly felt the most fleshed out amongst the cast we’ve met in the story so far. There’s also a fair amount of representation here, the three siblings are Asian-American and there’s the beginnings of exploring one character who is gay, but unlike a lot of media who are trying to write gay characters, it’s not a character trait, it’s just her sexual orientation, though it does play a huge part in the biggest decision she makes.

Also, being fair to it, I’m totally on board for the journey all of these characters are on, by the end of the volume the core cast had lost someone who they were beginning to become attached to, had a couple of big revelations with others and grown in both their numbers and their maturity to the situations that were presented to them as shown in the way they handle the big confrontation towards the end of the book.

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