ODIUM II: The Dead Saga by Claire C Riley
High Five, Claire! You’ve produced another example of why you’re one of my favorite authors and a rising star to watch. Speaking of stars- can you say 5 stars? If I could rate this book higher, you bet your sweet buttocks I would.
Readers fell in love with Nina’s snark and Doc Martens in ODIUM I. And it was gut-wrenching when the first book ended, leaving us with absolutely no idea what would happen to the main characters at the hands of the Forgotten. So, when I heard that the second book was coming out in May, I marked it on my calendar- with a big, bloody red ‘X’. Well, not blood, but sharpie. Close enough.
The beginning of the book is brutal. Nina is being tortured to within an inch of her sanity, Mikey seems to have turned-coat and rejoined the Forgotten and Emily, well, she seems to be sitting pretty contributing to the community with every strand of hair unharmed. How does this make Nina feel? Understandably… pissed off.
Of course, nothing is what it seems and Claire C Riley takes us on a twisted journey where the travels of our main characters are punctuated by a new duo… a couple, the woman pregnant, running from something. Something more terrible than the Forgotten. That’s hard to imagine, that there’s something in Claire’s dystopian, deader-ridden landscape worse than brutal humans willing to do anything (and I mean anything) to survive.
Okay, I don’t want to give too much away here. What’s another point I want to make… Oh, yes.
Sometimes, when you read this type of book (this genre, etc.), you end up with a book that is either ‘too brutal’ or ‘too vague’. For example, pages and pages of gore with no levity OR, endless movement through scenes that lack descriptions that really bring a reader into the landscape of the book. Claire threads levity and heartfelt scenes throughout her book in the form of a young couple that is clinging to the world that they ‘remembered’ so they could mentally survive the apocalypse. It’s strange and causes me to quirk an eyebrow, but it’s also a perfect picture of how different people may cope with the ‘end’. On the subject of descriptions and details- Claire is aces at it. She brings every sense into the read- even evoking a sense of smell, of touch. After some zombie-killing scenes, I could actually taste the rotting, pungent flesh. Gross, but highly effective.
Now, again, I don’t want to give too much away here, but there is a huge reveal towards the end of the book, when Nina is faced with the madness of certain new characters. Just when you think Nina’s had it, a twist punches the reader square in the jaw. And… oh… that reveal. Trust me, your eyes will widen, your stomach will drop and all you’ll be able to think is ‘WTF?!’.
So, that’s my spoiler-free, 2 cents. Read the book. (Read the first book if you haven’t). It’ll capture you, lock you in a vice, and leave you dry-heaving. It’s that damn good.