The Odds: Book One of the Deadblast Chronicles, A Post-Apocalyptic Action-Comedy (http://www.theoddsnovel.com) is the first full length novel imprint from fledgling publishing house California Coldblood Books (http://www.californiacoldblood.com). It is currently available as an ebook from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E9G96W4), and a limited print run will be available in the future.
I first learned about The Odds via a Kickstarter boost on Fanboy Comics (http://www.fanboycomics.net/), and I was intrigued by the concept. As a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign, I was able to preview the first section of the novel almost a year before its official release, and I became convinced that I had never read anything quite like it.
The Odds takes place in a world that is part post-apocalyptic, part Wild West where cell phones are the most powerful weapons, gambling has become the primary source of income. Powerful brokers known as Odds control all of the bets, and any ordinary individual who loses to them or defaults on a wager is subject to harsh punishment.
Enter Eldridge, a man somewhere between 35 and 45, who has a history of failing at almost everything. His debts have reached such astronomical numbers that his only hope of protecting his family is dying on July 4th, the day the red head bet he will pass away. However, higher powers have other plans for Eldridge, and in a last ditch effort to earn enough jenta to erase his debts he calls in a favour to enter the latest Xiang tournament, a deadly game of ritualized combat chess.
What I liked:
- For all of his faults Eldridge is an amazingly likable character, and I loved learning more facets of his character throughout the course of the novel. His true super power is an ability to make friends wherever he goes.
- The world-building in The Odds is amazing. Robert J. Peterson has created a fully developed society with political and social structures. While some of the groups seemed over the top (The Narsyans *cough cough*), I could still believe in their function as part of the whole.
- Xiang! As brutal and disturbing as I find the concept of combat chess performed by avatars that must fight to the death, I also found it fascinating. The relevant rules are explained in the text, so they feel natural rather than an info dump soliloquy. The fight scenes are also some of the most riveting in the novel, in my opinion.
- The ending worked for me even though several aspects seemed a little too coincidental. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers.
What I Disliked or Didn’t Work for Me:
- My most notable gripe with the ebook version of the novel is that there are several typos and editing errors. I’m unsure whether this was a transfer issue or simply a case of most word processing software not picking up on the words. Most of the errors were real words that were typo’d in place of the correct one. Fortunately, the plot was riveting enough that these errors didn’t pull me out of the story.
- It took me about 25 or 30 pages to get into the story, so the beginning felt slow to me. However, like the editing issue it’s a minor gripe since I felt the payoff was worth it when I did get immersed into the world.
How does the book live up to its impressive tagline? The Odds is definitely post-apocalyptic, but is it funny? I think so. The humour in the story is very dark (Eldridge facing off against one of his musical idols in a Xiang battle or an aging beauty queen donning the White Queen’s banner for the latest tourney), but it worked for me. There are also many quips and one liners that gave me a real chuckle while I read. However, it’s not a laugh a minute type of story, and the humour won’t fit everyone’s taste.
Overall, I recommend The Odds to anyone who wants to try something different from anything currently being published. It’s original, engaging, and just a fun read.
4 Mutated Dreens out of 5