It feels like an eon since I read Riley’s jaunt into zombie culture- Odium- yet, it is a testament to her writing strength that exploits of each character within came flooding back during my read of Odium Origins.
One of the most surprising characters stories was the first entry in Odium Origin: Crunch’s background. The story itself wasn’t surprising to me; I expected as much about Crunch. Frankly, I loathed her in Odium. What surprised me is, as much as I fought the feeling, I ended up feeling sympathy for her. I find the mark of a skilled writer is the ability to cause a paradigm shift in unwilling consumers. I still dislike Crunch, but I can’t find it in myself to loathe her anymore, because underneath all the bluster and anger, is a scared girl with lost promise that wants a kind word and a look of recognition from a parent. I was also glad to get the backstory on the Crunch & Mikey relationship dynamic; it’s easy to see how it deteriorated, but there are also hints that Crunch was feeling something beyond the casual tête-à-tête.
Duncan’s story is a disturbing look at human response to extreme circumstances, a reminder that the mild-mannered business man can do the unspeakable in pursuit of survival. One thing about an honest man: the truth of past actions will haunt. Steve and Jane give you another look at personalities and how they determine response: a laid back couple, encountering the strange, the dangerous- head for the hills and bunker down in each other’s arms, fortifying for safety, survival and trying to forget the plight of the world beyond the camper.
I have a new-found appreciation for JD; the story Riley has crafted in Odium Origins for him is tragic and painful, but JD is a protector and even when he fails to save that which is most precious to protect, he finds the will to move on and the determination to protect others despite his great losses.
Odium Origins is a wonderful companion set of stories to Odium. Read it before, after or simultaneously with its parent book; you won’t be disappointed.