I’ve been really getting into graphic novels, comic books and manga lately. So when I saw Odessa listed on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. Odessa by Jonathan Hill is about three Vietnamese American siblings several years after a super earthquake destroys the world as they know it. It’s both wholesome and dark at the same time which sounds weird but it actually works really well. So without any further babbling, here’s my review of Odessa by Jonathan Hill!
Many thanks to Jonathan Hill, Oni Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Odessa by Jonathan Hill
Publisher: Oni Press
Date of Publication: 10th November 2020
Genre: YA – Comics & Graphic Novels
Format: eBook (328 pages)
Content & Trigger Warnings
Amputation, kidnapping, cannibalism, hangings, references to graphic violence, torture, murder, gang violence, absent parents, blood, bones/skeletons, references to child death, natural disasters (earthquake)
Eight years ago an earthquake—the Big One—hit along the Cascadia fault line, toppling cities and changing landscapes all up and down the west coast of the United States. Life as we know it changed forever. But for Vietnamese-American Virginia Crane, life changed shortly after the earthquake, when her mother left and never came back.
Ginny has gotten used to a life without her mother, helping her father take care of her two younger brothers, Wes and Harry. But when a mysterious package arrives for her eighteenth birthday, her life is shaken up yet again. For the first time, Ginny wants something more than to survive. And it might be a selfish desire, but she’s determined to find out what happened to her mother—even if it means leaving her family behind. (from Goodreads)
Odessa is much more than just a post-apocalyptic tale. It also explores human behaviour following a catastrophic event, the complexities of human relationships (especially family) and is also a journey of self-discovery.
Firstly, I loved Odessa. It was one of those impossible to put down books. The artwork was beautiful and the story was beyond captivating. I didn’t want it to end… but more on that later.
Ginny is one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever read. Although our cultural background is different, we are very similar. We’re both stubborn, older sisters to younger brothers who hold a somewhat idealistic and pacifistic perspective of what the world should be like. Now I can’t begin to imagine the enormity of making this journey under the weight of that responsibility. But unfortunately for Ginny, her brothers have followed her. She doesn’t have a choice. (And to be fair, I’m sure my brothers would have done the exact same.)
Ginny has been through a lot in her seventeen years of life; earthquakes, her mother leaving and now she’s received a birthday present from her absent mother. Knowing that her mother is alive, she longs to be reunited with her. So she sets off without any information about her mother’s whereabouts, completely disregarding the warnings from others about how dangerous a quest it will be. I won’t tell you too much more than that because spoilers but it turns out that it is a very dangerous quest.
There are some wonderful secondary characters that really add to the beauty of the story. I loved how three-dimensional they all are. Everyone has their good and bad qualities to highlight that it’s more of a spectrum than a clear cut good vs. evil and it’s done in a really beautiful way to add momentum to the story each time. I also loved the LGBTQIA+ representation – I believe there were at least three characters? Again, this goes back to the complexities of human relationships that’s at the heart of Odessa.
Now, back to the ending. This is the one thing that I’m not sure how I feel about. On the one hand, I was disappointed that it left it open-ended. On the other, I was thrilled that I’d be able to rejoin Ginny, Harry and Wes in the future. So I’ll leave it as I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either.
Read this if…
You like dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories that are centred around the lives and perspectives of children and/or teenagers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Odessa by Jonathan Hill!
Do you like graphic novels? And if so, what are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.