I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Outcast by Adrienne Kress
Published by Diversion Books on June 4th 2013
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.
When a plot device in your book is a naked boy tied in a shed who immediately starts flirting with his captor, you’d think it would be pretty easy for the book to set up some sizzling romantic tension. However, Outcast still managed to feature one of the most awkward and bland to read relationships I’ve ever encountered.
Gabe was likeable enough, and carried his own baggage that gave his almost constantly happy demeanour some real depth. There were a lot of moments when his actions seemed like no person would ever actually do them, moments that made him, despite his flaws, seem like nothing more than a projected image of a person, perfect and flawless.
I still liked him a lot better than the MC though. Riley’s voice started out sounding awkward and stilted, but in the end her unique cadence of speech was one of the few qualities I found tolerable in her. For the most part, I was fed up with the disproportionate ratio between how much time she spent dwelling on her crippling insecurity and the amount of dwelling she did on… anything else. I felt like a good chunk of the book was just Riley confessing her insecurities to others, like Amber and especially Gabe, and them having to reassure her.
As a reader, I don’t need multiple paragraphs expressing to the MC how innately beautiful she is despite her almost unbelievable state of absolute oblivion. It’s just not interesting to me. While the fantastical components of Outcast were for the most part introduced somewhat sloppily, they still held my interest far more than the running pity party that was every conversation Riley had.
Riley had all these assumptions made about herself that she kept repeating, almost as if the book needed another plot barrier so Riley had to gain a stubbornness regarding a persona that was not even her. Ideas like: Riley doesn’t date, and Riley isn’t a leader were often at the forefront of Riley’s mind.
When she began to show an uncanny natural talent for shooting, despite multiple trials and mountains of evidence, Riley still found enough self doubt to call off her newfound talent as a fluke.
The setting, although a place of shared history for both Riley and Gabe, was completely overlooked. I felt as if the more intimate details of the town were brushed aside in favour of setting up the history regarding the Church and the three prior years of angel encounters. While this information was obviously necessary, the town never felt as closely knit or inescapable as the narration kept repeating it was.
That was another issue I had with Outcast, the telling not showing that made me lose interest in the plot faster than you can say “Riley is gorgeous”. During the training when Riley’s team is learning to shoot angels, we’re basically just told that “yeah, they sucked at first, but some time later, they got better.” I wanted to see them fail so I could be excited when they improved.
This was not an awful book, and I thought the ending really saved a lot of it’s downfalls, taking a slightly unexpected turn while still providing closure. However, no amount of closure can erase nearly 300 pages of an MC who, after befriending a boy for nearly a year and moving past the loss of her first love, still takes an extra chapter or so to deliberate over starting a relationship with Gabe because that is “just not what Riley does.”