by Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Diverson Books
Reading level: YA
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.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
Doesn't that description make it sound like a cool story? Yeah. Too bad that description is about some other book. It must be. I got through one-fifth of this thing and didn't really see any hints of themes like love, trust, or coming of age... unless you dig really deep through Riley's internal monologuing/infodumping (but, to be honest, those passages kind of made me zone out).
In the past few days, I've read Angelfall by Susan Ee and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors, so I thought I'd keep the angel theme going and read Outcast. I knew it would be different from the other two books (which are very different from each other), but I didn't realize that I wouldn't even be able to finish this one. That's too bad, because I think the premise and story here could have been turned into the best book of the bunch.
I should have known reading this book would be painful when I started noticing (and bookmarking) technical errors at page six. Yes, page six. It only got worse from there. The author seemed to be afraid of commas, because there were lots of places where they were missing. There were also quite a few places that gave away the fact that there was no editor. For example:
Maybe the girl who shot him in the face maybe?
At least, I mean, at least for me it was.
Then a character's name changed (Jonah Richards to Jonah Robinson). I searched my Kindle copy, only to find that Jonah was mentioned a mere three times. Three times... and you can't make his name consistent?
Those are the types of mistakes that I find in my own writing from time to time. But I usually find them, because I proofread -- even if it's just a blog entry. The fact that this book made it through all the stages of publication without someone with a red pen saying, "Hold on a minute!" makes me shake my head.
Riley was kind of a blank for me. Despite the fact that she tells us (yeah, she tells us... we're not actually shown much in this book) that she's smart and "objectively" pretty (whatever that means) and wears dowdy sundresses all the time even though she feels dowdy in them (okay... is she really as smart as she thinks she is?), I didn't have much of a feeling for who she was after reading 20% of a book that's told in the first person with so many sentence fragments I almost swore this was a verse novel. As for Gabe... don't even get me started on him. He talked like I think the author thinks 1950s jerks are supposed to talk, but it came off as kind of ridiculous to me. I don't want to read the words "dollface" or "sweetheart" for a while. Oh, and there was also the fact that he was supposed to be this hot, sexy guy with chiseled abs and nakedness that Riley couldn't stop thinking about. We weren't given any more than that at first, so my mind went ahead and decided what he looked like. Because I recently read Angelfall, Gabe took on a similar appearance to that book's angel: dark-haired, dark blue-eyed. Then, all of a sudden, we were informed that Gabe had sandy blond hair and "those bright blue eyes", as if it had been mentioned before. It hadn't. I can take vivid character descriptions, or I can leave them... but waiting to release that kind of information until after your reader has already formed a mental image of the character isn't a good move. It's jarring and disorienting.
There were other parts that had me thinking that the author couldn't remember what she'd previously written. Like when Riley shook Gabe's hand and stated that it was the first time they'd ever touched. I guess she forgot about hauling his unconscious, naked body into a wheelbarrow and then trussing him up in her father's toolshed. Because that sort of thing is easy to forget.
Sorry about the snark. I'm just really disappointed in this one, because it could have been as awesome as the synopsis made it sound and the cute, professional-looking cover led me to believe. Unfortunately, the writing was just so bad that I couldn't enjoy this one at all. The only real enjoyment I got out of the book was writing down my issues as I went along and posting some snarky status updates on Goodreads.
So, in the final analysis, the reasons why I didn't finish Outcast are as follows:
- too much telling, not enough showing
- bad writing, riddled with mistakes
- characters that were too boring and/or irritating to care about
- inconsistencies that took me out of the story