Written by: Adrienne Kress
Published by: Diversion Books
Release date: June 4th 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.
Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.
He thinks it’s 1956.
My initial impression of Outcast, before I read it, was that it would be a light, possibly quirky read. The synopsis sounded very promising: a spunky main character, a great southern setting, and hopefully some cute romance. And it did deliver on those counts, for the most part.
I really enjoyed Riley and her voice as the narrator. I feel like Kress did a great job making Riley’s voice unique from anything I’ve read before, and I really liked her frankness and sense of humor. I also liked the setting – a small Southern town which has been the site of yearly disappearances believed to be the work of angels. And the romance was definitely cute and (thank goodness!) not at all instalove-y.
Gabe was a fun character – charming, funny, and of course very attractive. But he’s also a little unbelievable: He’s very quick to accept that he’s basically time-traveled to the present from 1956, and I found his lack of curiosity about his missing years a little bit weird.
On the surface, everything should work… so I was a little surprised when I finished the book and my main feeling was, “Well, that was okay.”
I did really enjoy the beginning of the book with Riley and Gabe getting to know each other, and there were definitely a lot of great creepy scenes when Riley starts to be “followed” by some sort of “ghost thingy”, a she calls it. Many of the secondary characters were also great, especially Father Peter (of the town’s now-little-used Catholic church) and Lacy (mean-girl-cheerleader turned actual-friend-to-Riley, yay).
However, I feel like there’s really nothing “deeper” going on, and there’s not a lot of actual substance to any of the events or characters. Everything in the book can be taken at face-value, and there’s no deeper emotional arcs or connections that would’ve made the characters great. They’re good, and enjoyable, but not great.
Additionally, as the plot progressed and we learned more and more about the “angels” and the town’s predicament, I found that my interest didn’t really pique like it was supposed to. Again, the revelations were good (I didn’t predict anything), but they weren’t mind-blowing. So my enjoyment sort of plateaued until the very last few pages, where I hoped we’d get a really spectacular ending (considering this is a standalone – I think?).
But the big climax was a let-down for me. I can’t say anything specific (no spoilers!!), but I was expecting something different – especially that more loose ends would be tied up. But more than that, I felt like the ending just pushed the Big Red Reset Button. You know, the one that resets everything back to factory settings. Unfortunately, that sort of resolution really didn’t work in this case, at least for me. Now, having said that, if this book does have a sequel, I might change my mind – I just think that the story, if it’s a standalone, really doesn’t benefit at all from the resolution that’s presented.
I wish this book had been as awesome as the cover, to be completely honest! It was okay, and I enjoyed Riley’s narration and the other characters, but felt like there was a lack of substance that would’ve made the characters and emotional arcs really shine. I’d definitely recommend checking out this book if you’re looking for something different in the “angels” category, but only if you’re okay with a lighter read, with a rather simple resolution.