Odd Men Out includes a little bit of everything effectively blended together, resulting in an action-packed story of a diverse team of do-gooders and baddies. There are a lot of characters and a lot of action to get though--not to mention a lot of world-building--but it all clips by at a quick pace, and never does that info-dump thing that so much science fiction falls back on.
The story takes place in an alternative history version of the U.S. in which the Civil War has ended only because the South and North have joined together to fight a zombie outbreak. When the book opens, the zombie outbreak is pretty well contained, although still ongoing, and the country is adapting to a new normal. What caused the outbreak? No one knows, but neither does anyone know exactly what mad scientist Dr. Pooley was working on before his death…
This truce of convenience doesn’t sit well with everyone, including Tom Preston, leader of a group of Northern loyalist terrorists who destroy infrastructure, engage in espionage, and generally lie, steal, and kill their way into possession of a small arsenal, including one mythically powerful (but untested) weapon. The only people in a position to stop Tom from leveling Atlanta are a rag-tag team of former soldiers, circus performers, pacifists, and others, all with their own secrets. Also thrown into the mix is a circus baron stubbornly intent on bringing some questionable giant lizards into his show.
Although I found myself wanting to explore some of the characters a little more, the author gives you everything you need to know to understand their actions and motivations. In a plot this complex, there’s not really time for much more. But I never felt lost or confused keeping up with everything, which says something to the author’s skill at understanding exactly what the reader will need. And with this many characters to choose from, pretty much any reader will find at least one to closely identify with.
I’d recommend this book to a wide range of people, but it would make an especially good gift for the people in your life who think books are boring. Odd Men Out just might change their minds.
Read my reviews on