I stole this part of the review from Goodreads/François Vigneault: “Odessa is the first long chapter in a sumptuously-drawn post-apocalyptic tale following the journey of teenager Virginia Crane.” That does not seem “steal worthy” but it starts my feelings of this book. It is a long “chapter to the story of the Crane family. I am not sure I would say “sumptuously-drawn,” but it does have its own unique style.
This is the surface story: three children (ages around 9 to 17) travel through a post-apocalyptic world to locate their presumed dead mother. The rest is lots of wonderful gravy, potatoes and other side dishes. It is a coming of age story that has all the usual storylines, but there is just more. There is something about this book that makes you want to savor every single letter, but also just gobble it down. It is not just dystopian/apocalyptic but there is hope, hunger and something deeper. The characters are both loveable and dislikable. Even our heroes/heroines are not always nice people. This contradiction makes everyone relatable, understandable and again, more. The violence, death, gangs, war, drinking, smoking, drugs, language and even cannibals really builds up slowly and yet is right there in your face. You know there is always someone or something around the corner.
So, needless to say, not for the young or sensitive reader. I recommend it for ages 14 to adult. It is not for the person just starting their graphic novel journey, but someone who has gotten their feet wet, are long time readers, fantasy and science fiction lovers. But as long as you know this book is a goldmine filled with pyrite and diamonds, you will be fine.
The only reason this is not a five is because the art was not always to my personal tastes, but works perfectly for the story and the cliffhanger ending made me want to throw the book (but it was a library book so I couldn’t). I still can’t believe that Jonathan Hill is the author/illustrator of Odessa, but also Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy, and honestly that one person can create two equally good but radically different stories still boggles my brain.