Odd Girl Out
by Timothy Zahn
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317339
Date: 02 September 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Prolific author Tim Zahn has crafted a noir science fiction adventure. In Odd Girl Out, Frank Compton and his half-human sidekick Bayta continue their fight against the Modhri, a group mind with aims to take over Quadrail space. This novel carries on the struggle begun in Night Train to Rigel (2005). This time Compton fights to find and save a young girl the Modhri wants destroyed. They call her the Abomination.
Mayhem follows Frank. Soon he must flee from murder charges as the body counts rise. Each time he strives to stay ahead of the opposition, someone else dies. Despite his certainty he knows what will happen and the short-term plans of the Modhri and its "walkers", a twist occurs and he has to regroup.
Violence and old-fashioned gun battles keep Frank and Bayta on the move. Aided on occasion by BruceMcMicking, they outshoot the villains. Surprisingly, guns remain the weapons of choice although ammunition offers some variation from snoozers that put the victim to sleep to thudwumpers that kill and spatter.
Frank's humanity acts as both a strength and a weakness. Believing himself on the side of good, he accepts the end often justifies murder and destruction—kill or be killed. If he fails to contain or defeat the Modhri, they will take over the galaxy and make all subject to the group mind.
McMicking surfaces at critical times and saves Frank more than once. At times, his appearances approach deus ex machine and strains credibility.
An easy read, the novel pays homage to the noir detective and thriller genres, and Zahn spices his novel with a variety of aliens. Non-stop action keeps the reader turning the pages. Zahn saves a few surprises for the end. However, he slips in a serious theme near the end. With so much material, sequels are sure to come.