A Specter’s Journey starts in the middle of a hellish gunfight, as our hero Jackie Clarke blasts his way through the streets to rescue his kidnapped wife, Melody. What a great beginning! Instead of the boring start many use, of their hero waking up in bed, or contemplating life over a coffee, Odabaş throws his readers into the action, immediately gripping his audience and seducing with language. Onomatopoeic writing employed at the off, Odabaş opens with a choice of phrase that colors reading in an unusual and sometimes exciting way.
The reader can smell, see, hear and sense, in color, with the book’s characters in a way that many recent writers have not enabled. However, this style does seem to tail off a little around halfway through and takes on a less detailed style – the author perhaps should take a look at this and add a few more details to the latter parts of the writing to keep the book consistent.
Despite this, characters do have their own voices and their own inner thoughts so that they stand out from each other, rounded and whole. Villains talk in patois, and Jackie talks with his own accent. This again really makes this book stand out. It’s a sign that Odabaş understand what a character should be, and crafts them with care.
Just as the book seems to be going in one direction in the very first act as a crime thriller, Jackie Clarke dies. This may seem like a massive spoiler, but this is only the beginning. Because A Specter’s Journey is in fact a science-fiction novel about the afterlife, and asking not “who am I?” but “why am I?” The man formerly known as Jackie Clarke in life becomes a Specter in the Crafters Cosmos, one of many cosmoses attainable in the afterlife after being alive in the Mortal Cosmos. Now called Walker, our hero must learn what it means to exist in a different world, with new Specter friends with strange names like Smoke and Tamrock.
There seems to be a collective trend for “space kidnap” style books, and this follows those leads. Walker has little choice but to explore his new world with the reader, and discover the Cosmoses with us. The one issue with this book is the presentation – the cover, while attempting to capture the look of a cosmos in space, is truly under par, and could affect Odebaş‘ sales considerably, which is a great shame.
That aside, fans of this kind of book will find in A Specter’s Journey a classic in this genre and will enjoy getting to know the various traditions, laws and structure of the Specters’ society. There are echoes of Stephen Donaldson and Jules Verne, and a little of the TV show LOST, and all of those references will be pleasing for fantasy/sci-fi readers.
Although in theory this may seem a strange mix of space science fiction and philosophy, this is a fun read and does actually strike some serious chords in execution. The Specter’s Journey offers a somewhat humorous and entertaining look at existentialism and ideas of reality, based on the author’s well-communicated beliefs in what “it might all mean”, without, thankfully, stirring up any ideas of religious conviction.