Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Review: Outcast by Adrienne Kress

Published by: Diversion Books
Release date:
9th May 2013
I got it from:

Goodreads summary:
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.

My review:
This is an interesting take on angels, a more traditional view of the heavenly creatures in my view. I'm always a bit wary of angel-based stories, because I'm not a believer. Granted, it's not necessary to believe vampires and werewolves are real to enjoy reading about them, but I think when God and the angels are involved a bit of faith helps. There have been tons of books involving fallen angels and such-like, usually sexy boys with a few handy superpowers. Those are the ones I tend to steer clear of. Outcast is different though. Kress' angels are more alien, more removed from humankind and more believable because of it. Oh, and I love that it doesn't assume angels are pure, good and kind. They have their own agenda.

Kress plays on the phenomenon that is small-town America. A God-fearing town is blessed by annual visits from angels. Okay, so the angels take away a few residents each year but that can only be a good thing, right? Who doesn't want to be taken to heaven? Of course, the logical thing to do is the build a church to praise to the angels, and make sure the media don't get a hold of it. Folk can get awfully possessive when it comes to heavenly glory. And don't think you can get away with living in this blessed town but going on 'holiday' when it comes to the day of the taking - you have no right to be a part of this community unless you offer yourself to the angels, same as everyone else.

Riley has lived through the 'glory' for the past six years - she's grown up with it, seen it take a hold of her town, and steal her best friend. She's not as convinced about the goodness of the angels as she should be. I loved Riley. She's been grieving for a year, since her best friend Chris was taken by the angels. Her best friend who she shared her first kiss with just a few days before he was taken. Riley feels justifiably hard-done-by - just when things were starting to get interesting, the boy she loves disappears up into the sky. So when she comes face-to-face with an angel a year after Chris was taken, she shoots it in the face! That's quite some come-back. But then things get complicated when the angel turns into a hot boy from the 1950s with a big hole in his memory.

There's a whole back-story going on here, a tale of shyster priests and faith that's really fear. It's surprisingly easy to get people to believe the unbelievable when you have an incontrovertible occurrence such as people disappearing into the sky to point at. If that can happen, surely anything can happen. Luckily there's always a few who aren't taken in by it all, and our Riley takes reluctant control of a little band of unlikely crusaders to a rollicking ending.

I think I'm being a bit vague, a bit teasing with my review here, but there's a lot I can't say for fear of spoilers. What I can say is that Outcast is a breath of fresh air, a delightful, slightly spooky piece of whimsy. Riley rocks, and 50s rocker Gabe is a suitably swoon-worthy distraction. The dialogue between these two is just great. As for the angels? Let's just say keep an open mind...

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