Oddity by Sarah Cannon
Ada Roundtree is no stranger to dodging carnivorous dumpsters, distracting zombie rabbits with marshmallows, or instigating games of alien punkball. But things haven’t been the same since her twin sister, Pearl, won the town’s yearly sweepstakes and disappeared.
Along with her best friend, Raymond, and new-kid-from-Chicago Cayden (whose inability to accept being locked in the gym with live leopards is honestly quite laughable), Ada leads a self-given quest to discover Oddity’s secrets while evading the invisible Blurmonster terrorizing the outskirts of town.
But when one of their missions goes sideways, revealing something hinky with the Sweepstakes, Ada can’t let it go. Because if the Sweepstakes is bad, then what happened to Pearl?
Full disclosure: Until I picked up Oddity I had not listened to Welcome to Nightvale, but now I am hooked. If you are already a listener, stop reading this review and get to the store to get this book because it’s what you need in your life.
For those that haven’t listened to that podcast, strap in because things are about to get weird.
Oddity jumps right in with the weird too, just to let you know you’re not in Oz or even Narnia anymore with students locked in the gym for ‘safety drills’ dodging and tranquilizing angry leopards. Ada comes out swinging as a delightful mix of sarcastic and confident, with a dollop of Mama-Friendness as she does her best to keep New-Kid Cayden alive.
Cayden is a nice touchstone for those of us who don’t live dodging carnivorous dumpsters and aliens. While Ada is the main character, Cayden gets more page time than Raymond because while he may flail and scream, deep down inside he’s just like the rest of us and knows an epic adventure is at hand.
Raymond is rock solid to match Ada’s fiery impulsiveness. Raymond is an excellent foil not only in personality but in the steadiness of his home life as well. He does seem to play a bigger role at the beginning when reigning Ada in is more important. He remains a constant character throughout the book but once the mystery is hatched there’s more a focus on Ada and Cayden.
Ada’s world is topsy-turvy—more than usual—since her twin sister, Pearl, won the Sweepstakes. Her father is working long hours as an animal control officer (and that is one hell of a job) and her mother is mostly comatose. For better or worse, Ada’s Aunt Bets is there to try and wrangle her. And, despite their warring ways, Aunt Bets is like Raymond. She’s solid and there for Ada, looking out for her, putting the fear of the gods in her. All the things solid parental figures do for us.
The first few chapters are a ride as you find your new ‘normal’ in this bizarre little town. Things like the sentient puppets that run the city, the Puppet Committee, the invisible Blurmonster who routinely tears up the outer edge of town, UFOs sticking out of diners, zombie rabbits that are cute in inexplicable ways, ghosts that haunt closets, and even a pirate.
And then things get weird even for Ada.
Which kicks off the race to find Pearl and to find out what dark secrets the strange and dangerous town of Oddity are hiding. But most important: Finding Pearl.
If you strip away all the fantastical elements, Oddity is a story about family. Ada’s family is holding on by threads after Pearl is taken away. Ada’s recklessness initially is about running away from the Pearl shaped hole in her family and her life, but soon she circles back and begins running toward that gaping hole and looking for a way to fix it. And if she has to burn the whole town down to fix that hole and get Pearl back, she will.
As someone with a younger sister, this was a refreshing book to read. So often in media siblings are pit against each other at first and their arcs are about finding a close relationship I think most of us already have with our siblings. Sure, my sister annoys me sometimes, but she’s still my sister and I’d do anything to protect her. Being twins, Ada and Pearl have a little bit different bond, but they’re still best friends at the start of the book.
If you’re a fan of Welcome to Nightvale or you love the old Twilight Zone shows, Oddity by Sara Cannon is a book for you, your kids, the ghost in your closet, and the aliens in your side yard.
You can find Oddity on:
And at Sarah Cannon’s website: www.sarahcannonbooks.com