Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Outside by Laura Bickle

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it's up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 320
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Rachel, age 18

There is something unique about The Hallowed Ones and its sequel, The Outside. The most obvious answer would be that it's an Amish apocalypse story. The second would be that Laura Bickle writes grade-A scary action scenes--the story itself is both smart and well-written. The third would be the characters. 

Bickle has developed a main character--Katie--who, under very bizarre circumstances, is relatable and admirable. I think I admire her more than any other character I've read in a long time. She knows who she is, who she's supposed to be, and though she makes human mistakes, she owns up to them and always chooses to be who she knows she is in her heart. There were a few instances I wish she would have stuck true to her Amish-side, but in the end she is who she is and I had to respect her for it. She's interesting and the way she perceives situations, both as a Plain girl and a girl on the run for her life, kept my intrigued. 

She's one of many interesting characters. Even the animals in this book have great character arcs, and you fall in the love with them just as you do the humans in the story. Alex, the love interest, is a handful of years older than Katie and is an anthropology major. He's logical and scientific and Katie is religious and naive. He calls her "Bonnet". Cute, right?? 

However, when these two polar opposites come together, it's a blast. You get the science vs. religion discussions, the moral dilemmas, the making fun of each other situations, and so much more. They are a unique and unlikely pair, but the way they mesh together throughout the course of the book is perhaps one of the best parts. Their relationship is not insta-love; it's admiration for each other, friendship, survival and then love. A deep, personal love that you understand way more than in most books, when the characters insta-love each other and there's no depth. 

The first book, The Hallowed Ones, is sort of a mystery. The Outside is a journey. Both are thrillers. These evil 'vampires' are pure evil. There is no human emotion, no sexy supernatural effect. They are "Darkness" or "diseased" and for that reason they are so much scarier than something that talks and has feelings. Instead, they just want to kill you. Some of the situations Katie and Alex are put in are graphic and cringe-worthy--and I'm no baby! 

Sometimes readers, like me, are deterred from 'journey' plots because they've become somewhat of a cliche, and a little overdone. However, Bickle is able to steer clear of many of those cliches, keep it interesting, keep you guessing, and keep your heart racing. I still loved it, even though I've read a dozen of journey books! 

Usually, I would complain about how fast the book was tied up, but I also understand that Ms. Bickle had to wrap it up in two books, which is incredibly hard to do. So, this book does leave with an open-ending, but it's satisfying and most loose ends are tied up while still leaving plenty more plot if a third book is ever written. But my one complaint is that it is wrapped up so quickly. Too much to do, not enough time!

As I've stated, this is not for the lighthearted, but if you like an action-packed story with great character arcs, and want to find out how an anthropology graduate can fall in love with an Amish girl, then this is the book for you! 

As of now, Ms. Bickle is only under a contract for book one and book two. But if you read them and would like to see more, buy the books and spread the word! Hopefully we will see a third and final installment if we can hype it up a little. 

Now, read my interview with Ms. Bickle where we discuss research, Alex, vamps and more! 

This book is in stores now! 
Buy Hardcover | $16.99

Happy reading,
Rachel, age 18

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~Youth Board